Israelis across the political spectrum are in a state of shock over a proposed deal to lift sanctions on Iran in exchange for promises to partially suspend its nuclear program and a pledge to not expand it.
Acting out of a position of self-imposed weakness, the world’s democracies have effectively undermined the aim of several United Nations resolutions banning any uranium enrichment. The agreement that’s currently being ironed out in Geneva will allow Iran to continue to enrich but at a lower grade.
Since 1979’s Iranian Revolution, world powers have doggedly worked at crafting and implementing a crippling sanctions regime meant to weaken the rule of Iran’s Mullahs.
And the current set of sanctions are the toughest yet, causing Iran to become increasingly isolated and its leadership increasingly destabilized.
Yet just as this maximum leverage on Iran to scrap its nuclear program is beginning to bear fruit, sanctions are about to be eased without requiring Iran’s thuggish theocracy to dismantle even one centrifuge.
In response to this very bad deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a stinging rebuke to Washington, stating over the weekend that “Israel utterly rejects it and what I am saying is shared by many in the region, whether or not they express that publicly.”
So serious is the rift that has opened up between Israel and the United States that, in an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke out right away against the deal and its principal backer, the United States.
US President Barack Obama, the perpetual crisis manager, quickly phoned Netanyahu in an attempt to tamp down growing unease over the emerging Iran deal among the United States’ Middle East allies.
The bitter lesson that devout proponents of diplomatic engagement with Tehran are beginning to learn is that one sovereign nation can not realistically outsource its security to allies or supranational organizations.
Simply put, Israel’s zero hour with regards to Iran has never been nor will it ever be synchronized with that of the United States.
As such, Israel must now decide between launching a preemptive attack to eliminate the nuclear threat posed by Iran or live under the constant threat of nuclear blackmail.
Until recently, opponents of such an attack relied heavily on an array of doomsday prophesies: the reaction of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas; international anger directed at Israel over higher oil prices; an escalation of hostilities across the Persian Gulf.
As dire as these worse case scenarios sound, they are non-lethal and short-term.
In contrast, the cost of continued restraint could be far greater than that of a preemptive strike: a nuclearized Iran would enslave Israel both politically and militarily.
Left unimpaired, Iranian nuclear assets and materials could be shared with certain Iranian surrogates or otherwise aligned groups, including Hezbollah, or assorted Jihadi organizations.
Regarding the legality of such an attack, if there is an imminent threat against another state, then a preemptive strike is technically lawful under the UN Charter .
Israel, like any other nation, is under no legal obligation to sit back passively and quietly await annihilation from a country that remains determined to destroy it.
Should Israel strike at Iran, the world will undoubtedly howl. Let it: this too shall pass. Guided by the rightness of its cause, Israel will be acting for the advancement of shared regional and global interests, which happen to dovetail with its own.
Check out this and other essays of mine that have appeared in the Jerusalem Post here