Elkan’s view from Radlett


It’s getting nasty. Obama, trying to leave some sort of acceptable legacy behind him, has crafted the agreement with Iran in an attempt to achieve immortality as one of the great peacemakers, while he is actually more likely to be remembered as among the worst of American presidents. There is no shortage of non-Jewish non-partisan Americans who are saying clearly and loudly that this is a bad deal. There is insufficient inspection; one commentator said that a restaurant in New York was subject to more inspection than Iranian atomic installations. There is a rumour, not yet proved wrong, that the samples for examination by independent inspectors will be supplied by the Iranians themselves! There are certainly at least two side agreements with Teheran which have not been disclosed to Congress. If, as the president’s supporters claim, this is one of the most important agreements of the century, why cannot everything be revealed?

If anything goes wrong with this agreement, and the chances are that it will, then the Israelis will be in the front line. In an attempt to scare them in the time honoured and old-fashioned anti-Semitic way, Obama this week met with leaders of the American Jewish community and warned them that if Congress kills the Iran deal then rockets will fall on Tel Aviv. The logic of this American statement is that if the deal doesn’t go through then America will have to attack Iranian nuclear installations. If that was even remotely true, then why (as the Israelis have shown) did the Americans give in on every important point, and why didn’t they seriously threaten military action years ago? This seems to be another one of Obama’s “red lines” which are actually written in white flags.

Despite this, Netanyahu’s continuing to publicly attack the president of the United States and his policies is doing no good to Israel’s position with its largest and best ally. With a bit of sense he could translate what remains of America’s desire to placate Israel into real military and financial advantages. What he seems to be doing is just irritating everybody, including an increasing number of his own supporters in both Washington and Israel.