Parsing Obama’s Speech To AIPAC: Did He Give Israel The Green Light To Attack Iran?

UPDATE (10:30 pm Monday):  The southern Israeli community of Beer Tuvia was warned of impending terrorist rockets from Gaza at 8:25 pm. Terrorists attack Israelis with two Molotov cocktails at 10:17 pm. (location unspecified).

UPDATE (6:00 pm Monday): Two Palestinian terrorists from the so-called Balata “refugee camp” arrested early this afternoon near Elon Moreh, a Jewish community beside Shechem (Nablus). The terrorists were carrying two large knives and had apparently attempted to gain entrance in order to carry out stabbing attacks. Interestingly, they were arrested after residents of the nearby Palestinian village of Azamut refused them shelter, and the headmaster of the local school handed them over to the IDF.


President Obama At AIPAC yesterday.

In some ways, President Obama’s speech yesterday before the AIPAC convention in Washington was predictable in this presidential campaign season, but in another striking way it was not.

Obama began by calling on delegates to look at his “deeds”, not what had been written or said about him. Quite rightly, the President called attention to the fact that at every major juncture, from votes in the United Nations to standing for Israel against the infamous Goldstone Report to rescuing Israeli diplomats in Cairo, the United States had always “had Israel’s back.”

He went on to point out that security cooperation between Israel and the United States has never been greater–and that the United States remains committed to always making sure that Israel has a “qualitative edge” in weaponry. President Obama also pointed out that it was he who had authorized increased funding for Israel throughout his presidency and even supplemental funding for the Iron Dome missile shield system.

Of course, at no point did Obama mention the rows with Israel that characterized the first three years of his presidency, the seeming adoption of the Palestinian negotiating position concerning what the borders of a future state of Palestine should be based on,  and the isolating of Israel over its insisting that Jerusalem never be divided as well as its insistence on continuing the construction of homes, schools, and hospitals in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

But in comparison to some of Mr. Obama’s previous speeches–including those at previous AIPAC conventions, yesterday’s speech made almost no references to the Palestinians at all (leading the Palestinians today to assail the speech as completely pro-Israel).

However, in a political campaign season in which all evidence points to a close election, all of the above remarks by President Obama were predictable. The speech sounded much like a campaign stump speech–and its message was loud and clear: “Vote for me!”

But it was in the lengthy section devoted to Iran, that President Obama proclaimed some items that your humble servant had never heard him say before–or at least had never heard him say so forcefully before.

He began the “Iran section” with these words:

“Let’s begin with a basic truth that you all understand: No Israeli government can tolerate a nuclear weapon in the hands of a regime that denies the Holocaust, threatens to wipe Israel off the map and sponsors terrorist groups committed to Israel’s destruction. And so I understand the profound historical obligation that weighs on the shoulders of Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak and all of Israel’s leaders.”

This was a remarkably blunt statement of agreement with Benjamin Netanyahu’s assessment of the Iranian situation. And the clear suggestion was that “Bibi Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and all of Israel’s leaders” have a profound historical obligation to make sure that Iran does not get a nuclear bomb.  If this statement does not read like a call to Israeli action against Iran, then nothing does.

And President Obama made the other reasons to stop Iran (aside from Israel’s survival) perfectly clear:

A nuclear-armed Iran is completely counter to Israel’s security interests. But it is also counter to the national security interests of the United States. Indeed, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. A nuclear-armed Iran would thoroughly undermine the nonproliferation regime that we’ve done so much to build. There are risks that an Iranian nuclear weapon could fall into the hands of a terrorist organization. It is almost certain that others in the region would feel compelled to get their own nuclear weapon, triggering an arms race in one of the world’s most volatile regions. It would embolden a regime that has brutalized its own people, and it would embolden Iran’s proxies, who have carried out terrorist attacks from the Levant to southwest Asia.”

What followed was a laundry list of everything that the United States and its allies have done, and are doing, to bring an end to the Iranian nuclear program diplomatically. President Obama reiterated his belief that there is still time for the sanctions to have their desired effect because both the United States and Israel believe that the Iranians don’t have the nuclear bomb quite yet.

Then followed two lines that are reverberating around the world today–and the second line is what PM Netanyahu emphasized in his reaction to the speech:

“We all prefer to resolve this issue diplomatically. Having said that, Iran’s leaders should have no doubt about the resolve of the United States — just as they should not doubt Israel’s sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.”

Let’s repeat that: “Israel has a sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs.” There seems to be a recognition in this statement that Israel will act–whether it be soon or after a few more months of diplomatic actions that may lead nowhere. The statement is indeed, the closest that President Obama has ever come to giving Israel the green light to attack Iran.

Your humble servant has expressed in previous blogs his own opinion about an Israeli attack on Iran and will not repeat it here. Suffice it to say, that President Obama seems to be more on board with such an attack than ever before.

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