The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, said last week in Washington that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat to Israel.
Mullen said he would prefer that the U.S. work diplomatically to keep the country from acquiring nuclear weapons, but hinted that should such efforts fail, the U.S. air force and navy could be put into action as well.
Ahead of Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s visit to the Pentagon this week, Israeli military sources said they were satisfied with the progress in talks with their American counterparts over acquiring F-35 fighter jets. Israel will pay $135 million per jet if it buys 25, and $100 million if it buys 75.
Meanwhile, Washington has retracted its opposition to installing Israeli-made systems on the jets. However, a disagreement over Israel’s request for complete access to the planes’ computer systems is yet to be resolved.
At a conference at the National Press Club, Mullen said he has spent a significant amount of time with his Israeli counterpart, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and that “it’s very clear to me that a nuclear weapon in Iran is an existential threat to Israel,” according to a transcript released by his office. [continued…]
…members of the Obama administration, in interviews over the weekend, said that they had now all but lost hope that Iran would follow through with an agreement reached in Geneva on Oct. 1 to send its fuel out of the country temporarily — buying some time for negotiations over its nuclear program.
“If you listen to what the Iranians have said publicly and privately over the past week,” one senior administration official said Sunday, “it’s evident that they simply cannot bring themselves to do the deal.” The administration officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were speaking about delicate diplomatic exchanges.
Iranian officials told the energy agency on Oct. 29 that they could not agree to the deal that their own negotiators had reached, but they never explained why. Iran has never publicly rejected the deal, but its official reaction has been ambiguous at best.
Dr. ElBaradei insisted he still had hope, but he conceded that the chances were receding.
“I have been saying to the Iranian leadership, privately and publicly, ‘Make use of that opportunity. Reciprocate,’ ” Dr. ElBaradei said last week. But he said that it now appeared that “the foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen,” partly because of the country’s own domestic turmoil.
So far, President Obama has said nothing about the stalemate threatening his first, and potentially most important, effort at diplomatic engagement with a hostile foreign government. When the first meeting in Geneva ended Oct. 1, Iranian and American officials said they would meet again later in the month to discuss the nuclear program and the potential for a broader relationship. That meeting never occurred, and none is scheduled. [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — It’s hard to push the narrative that Israel faces an existential threat and that it provides a safe haven for Jews. The “existential threat” argument would simply seem to reinforce what has for decades seemed to be objectively true: America and Europe and much of the rest of the world provide a much safer haven for Jews than does Israel.
In light of this we are likely to hear another argument presented with increasing force: that Israel’s necessity rests in its providing the only base in the world for a Jewish army.
Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, in an address to the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America on Sunday noted that the creation of Israel provided the opportunity for the creation of “the first Jewish defense force in 2,000 years” as, in the wake of the Goldstone report, the issue of Israel’s right to exist in now being made subordinate to its right to defend itself.
[Oren] said Israel was now facing questions about its legitimacy, not only from its traditional enemies but also from young people in the U.S., both Jews and non-Jews.
He told the conference that Israel’s ability to withstand the “onslaught of delegitimization” depends on the unity of the Jewish people, not just in Israel, but in communities all over the world.
“Our strength derives from the belief that we have a right to independence in our tribal land, the land of Israel, and that Jews have a right to defend themselves, there and everywhere. That Jews have a right to survive as Jews and as a legitimate nation.”
He seems to be claiming that the ability of Jews to survive anywhere hinges on the ability of Israel to defend itself.
If a Qassam rocket gets fired at Sderot, subtly — perhaps almost imperceptibly — it gets a little more dangerous to be living in Brooklyn.