How Bibi Played Us On The Iran Deal — And We Let HimAlmost two years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went before Congress to denounce President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran. The deal, he warned, “could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people.”
Then, in the closing moments of his speech, Netanyahu addressed the late Elie Wiesel, who was seated in the crowd. “Elie,” he declared, “your life and work inspires to give meaning to the words ‘Never again.’ And I wish I could promise you, Elie, that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
The implication was clear: Approving the nuclear deal meant permitting a second Holocaust. The only difference was that, this time, a Jewish state would wage war to prevent it. “I can guarantee you this,” an emotional Netanyahu told a hall echoing with applause. “The days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over… I can promise you one more thing: Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
Almost two years later, Netanyahu is returning to a very different Washington. Obama is gone. Donald Trump, who last spring told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, “My No. 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” has replaced him. Republicans, who overwhelmingly opposed the Iran nuclear deal, now control both houses of Congress.
The political barriers that Netanyahu faced two years ago are gone. He and Trump are now free to renounce the Iran nuclear deal, and thus, by Netanyahu’s logic, prevent a second Shoah. Or, failing that, Netanyahu could take matters into his own hands and bomb Iran’s nuclear sites himself, secure in the knowledge that Trump is less likely than Obama to object.
Yet none of that is happening. To the contrary, Defense Secretary James Mattis testified in January that the Trump administration will “live up to” the nuclear agreement. Last week, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly expressed the same sentiments to the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. Last Friday, even as it imposed new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile tests, Trump’s Treasury Department insisted that the penalties were “fully consistent with the United States’ commitments under the” nuclear deal.
Even stranger, Netanyahu doesn’t seem to mind. According to Reuters, “Israeli officials privately acknowledged that,” while in Washington, Netanyahu “would not advocate ripping up a deal that has been emphatically reaffirmed by the other big power signatories.” Nor is Netanyahu repeating his threats to strike Iran himself, something he warned Congress he might do if it approved the nuclear deal. More at: