The Israel-Iran countdown has begun and with respect to Tehran’s nuclear race we are witnessing the greatest crisis in the US-Israel relations. Will America help the tiny Jewish State? Can Israel trust the word of a US administration that has treated Jerusalem like a banana republic?
A few days ago, Israeli officials told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that “the US’ stance is pushing the Iranians to become a country at the brink of nuclear capability.” Very few people in Israel believe that the US will ever launch another preemptive war against the ayatollahs. The US, especially if Barack Obama gets the re-election, will be tempted to reach a compromise with the Iranians.
Today Israel can stand tall in the face of its important ally because it never asked American soldiers to spill their blood for its defense. It’s Washington that must beg for Israel’s alliance and protect the Jews, as it cannot afford disengagement from the only democracy in a region dominated by Islam. Will the US eventually be compelled to sacrifice Israel on the altar of “realism” and oil price, when Iran’s knife will descend on the Jews? And will the Jewish State’s leadership dutifully bind Israel on the altar?
As Charles Krauthammer spelled it out, “for Israel the stakes are somewhat higher: the very existence of a vibrant nation and its 6 million Jews.” If Israel won’t be able to change the US’s red line on Iran and Jerusalem capitulates to Washington’s appeasement, the Iranians’ ghoulish utopia will be soon armed with atomic bombs. And the Jews? They will be psychologically weaker and totally dependant on others’ help. Like it was before and during the Holocaust.
There are unmistakable signs coming out of Iran that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei is laying the groundwork for a possible deal with the United States. This shift began in February, when Khamenei reaffirmedhis opposition to nuclear weapons on both religious and strategic grounds. The following month, Khamenei praisedPresident Barack Obama’s “good and wise statement” at AIPAC that time for diplomacy still existed, conveniently ignoring that the U.S. leader had also indicated his willingness to undertake military action if necessary. As negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 got underway, Khamenei’s appointees in the clergy, judiciary, and media all sounded a note of optimism. It’s now being reported that Iran is willing to limit the scope of its uranium enrichment.
Most have speculated that Khamenei’s sudden willingness to compromise is the result of his desire to avoid the looming sanctions against Iran’s oil exports. Although there may be some truth to this, at least as important is surely Khamenei’s recent consolidation of power at home. By purging his political competitors, the Supreme Leader has eliminated a significant source of his past opposition to a deal – his fear that his internal opponents would most benefit from it.
The aging Khamenei is also likely thinking of his legacy. Whereas Imam Khomeini is revered for toppling the Shah, creating the Islamic Republic system, and repelling Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1980, Khamenei’s tenure as Supreme Leader has been rather forgettable. While curbing some of the excesses of the Khomeini era, social and political rights remain restricted, the economy underperforms, and Iran is viewed with suspicion if not hostility abroad. As it stands today, Khamenei’s tenure as Supreme Leader is easily forgotten. By achieving a rapprochement with the United States, Khamenei would ensure himself an eternal spot in Iranian history.