Do you know the joke about the guy who murdered his parents and then begged the court for mercy because he was an orphan?
Who brought us the miserable nuclear agreement with Iran, if not Benjamin Netanyahu? It was his policy that transferred responsibility to deal with Iran’s nuclear program to the U.S. And when Obama and the ayatollahs met to discuss the deal, Netanyahu found himself on the wrong side of the door.
After I give a speech, if someone comes over to me and says, “I didn’t understand exactly what you were getting at,” I know that I have failed. Last week, everyone was laboring to explain what Netanyahu was trying to say in his internationally-broadcast speech. That the Iranians plan to destroy us? They already made that declaration a decade ago. That after the agreement expires, they will work toward getting nuclear weapons? They do not deny that. That they are liars? That they are dangerous? What were you trying to say, Prime Minister Netanyahu? You sent an entire country into pre-war mode, and, in the end, what did you say?
Menachem Begin did not make a presentation on the Iraqi reactor. Olmert didn’t make one on the Syrian reactor, either.
For years, I attempted to convince the prime minister and then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon that Israel’s strategy vis-à-vis Iran was catastrophic and would necessarily lead to a nuclear Iran (and, later, a nuclear Middle East). The few times I met with them on this issue, I did not receive a real response to my claims.
Left with no other choice, I took advantage of one of the major faction meetings in the Knesset (Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu) and, in the presence of all the ministers and MKs of the two parties, I turned to the prime minister and asked: “Mr. Prime Minister, when did Israel enjoy more legitimacy to attack Iran’s nuclear installations? Eight years ago when Ahmadinejad had just begun to talk about our destruction, or today?”
Netanyahu looked at me and didn’t know what to answer. A murmur went through the crowd and it was clear that everyone agreed that there is much less legitimacy for attacking Iran’s nuclear installations today.
“Today, it is much more difficult for us to attack – both operationally and politically,” I continued. “So maybe we’re doing something wrong. Perhaps our strategy is taking us backwards instead of forward. Perhaps the time has come to re-evaluate our strategy.”
More than anything else, the depth of last week’s farce was expressed by the fact that Netanyahu spoke in English. This was not a Churchillian speech of a leader who candidly addresses his nation and prepares it for a difficult challenge ahead. Instead, it was the speech of a community leader lobbying the local landowner – and speaking in his language.
Seventy-five years after Weizmann pleaded with the British to bomb the German death camps, Netanyahu is begging the U.S. to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities – even though we now have our own sovereign state, which created so that we never again would have to rely on the nations of the world for our safety.
For seven decades, we have been dragging every visiting VIP directly from the airport to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Why? So that at the moment of truth we will once again place our fate in the world’s hands?
Trump is a fine fellow, but he will not sacrifice one millimeter of America’s interests for us – just as we will not sacrifice our interests for the Kurds, for example.
A decade ago, while nobody noticed, Netanyahu returned responsibility for our existence to the nations of the world. Tactically, Israel certainly defends itself quite impressively. But strategically, we are heading in the wrong direction.
Netanyahu has brought a strategic catastrophe upon us. The central achievement of Zionism was taking our fate into our own hands. Over the last several years, Netanyahu has eroded that achievement. And with the impressive farce to which he treated us last week, he eroded it even more.