By Nadav Eyal
Practically, there's just an agreement not to fight before it is needed. The Americans don't know whether the next step, in case the talks with Iran fail, would be more crippling and severe sanctions – or an attack. They have yet to make up their mind. The Israelis are still uncertain about an independent preventive strike; this ideological battle has not yet been decided in the political and defense establishments.
Translated by Viktoria Lymar
Edited by Steven Stenzler
22 March 2013
In domestic policy, the U.S. President is an idealist, while in foreign policy – he is a realist; if there's no need to invest political capital in resuming the peace process, he prefers not to.
When these lines are read, on Friday morning, Obama is wrapping up his visit. It is likely that the feeling of satiety and maybe, even a sort of revulsion has already washed a large part of the Israelis, perhaps, sick of hearing about the fruit and coconut platter in the King David hotel awaiting the President, the traffic jams that are not just yet in Jerusalem but still may be there, scholarly speculations of commentators (including the above-signed) on the reasons for his coming and examination of the connection between the legendary taking off of the jacket at Ben-Gurion airport and the future of chemical weapons in Syria.
Over here [in Israel], everything is being exaggerated, big time. There isn't an important visit of an American president – there is a historic one only. There are no gestures – only extraordinary gestures. The hugs are always strong, the statements are forever significant and crucial. In a certain sense, Obama is responsible for this hype: he refrained from visiting here in his first term and naturally created a level of expectations (a huge one – our level of expectations is always huge) for his first visit as president. When he arrived, it was impossible to be content with the recognition that we're basically talking a visit whose essence is what the Americans call "maintenance."
The American attack of charm engulfed Israel upon the moment of landing. The President of the United States has come to conquer. Not Netanyahu or Peres – but the Israeli public. He nonchalantly waved from the airplane stairway, like it's no big deal that he is back to a place loved so much. And from the moment his foot touched the ground, the President was mostly busy using his rare political abilities to the utmost. Many talk about the dry cold of no-drama Obama, and few remember that he is also an exceptional politician even by the high standard of American presidents. When Obama wants to, he possesses a hard-to-find ability to solve complex situations solely by the force of his words. By the force of a single speech.
By means of a compliment which he gently puts in the right place, as if it was a firm and valid fact, according to all. The pause before Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid at the airport – only they got to hear that he would be happy to work jointly with them. Within a moment, he determined what the American alliance in the Netanyahu government is. Repeated emphasis of the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. The exact use he made of the quote by the late Yoni Netanyahu* – perhaps, the most sensitive and fundamental subject matter to the Netanyahu family. Flattering Sara Netanyahu on her beauty, the generous compliments to the Prime Minister's children… All these were designed to create a picture, and the picture has been created: rapprochement, a new page, eliminating the bad blood – and he's done all this merely on his first day, even before the speech in the [Jerusalem] International Convention Center. […]
Between the U.S. and Israel There Is an Agreement Not to Fight in the Meantime
Narrowing the gaps between Israel and the Americans on Iran is probably the second most important message (after the message of endless friendship) that the Americans are trying to convey throughout the visit. Iran won't have nuclear weapons; both sides agree that diplomacy is preferable, but if necessary – there will be an offensive. The Iranians are a year away from a nuclear bomb, if they decide on a scenario of breaking the rules, – but in any case, they won't be allowed to keep on enriching without disturbance.
The United States of course recognizes in principle Israel's right and duty to defend itself, by itself, and Israel recognizes the need to coordinate with the Americans the actions for stopping the Iranian nuke. Apparently, a rare consensus.
Practically, there's just an agreement not to fight before it is needed. The Americans don't know whether the next step, in case the talks with Iran fail, would be more crippling and severe sanctions – or an attack. They have yet to make up their mind. The Israelis are still uncertain about an independent preventive strike; this ideological battle has not yet been decided in the political and defense establishments. But both sides understand that there is nothing to fight about now. That [they] should give diplomacy a chance and go through the election campaign in Iran. Before then, there's no room for any military action. So why fight now, if you can do it only later?
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The above is an abstract from a larger original Hebrew article:
Photo credit: nana10/Channel 10
The big Hebrew letters on the TV studio screen (as well as the headline) read: Presidential Visit
Yonatan Netanyahu - Benjamin Netanyahu’s older brother, Israeli Special Forces commander, killed in 1976 while commanding a counter terrorist hostage-rescue mission in Entebbe, Uganda