U.S.-Is­rael re­la­tions on the mend

Obama’s wish­ful think­ing that fa­vored Iran is about to end

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Cal Thomas Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist. His lat­est book is “What Works: Com­mon Sense So­lu­tions for a Stronger Amer­ica” (Zon­der­van, 2014).

The con­sen­sus in Is­rael is that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Jewish state and the United States is go­ing to im­prove in a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, says for­mer Is­raeli am­bas­sador to the U.S., Zal­man Sho­val. On a re­cent visit to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Mr. Sho­val told me that he be­lieves Don­ald Trump and his Cabi­net picks so far have a more “re­al­is­tic” view of the Mid­dle East than Pres­i­dent Obama, who from his first days in of­fice, “per­haps be­fore, be­lieved it was his call­ing to fix once and for all, all mat­ters be­tween the U.S. and the Arab and Mus­lim worlds, as ex­pressed in his Cairo speech. … This gives Trump in the hearts and minds of more than a few Is­raelis a head start.”

Mr. Sho­val said he be­lieves the is­sue of a Pales­tinian state — the ob­jec­tive of U.S. for­eign pol­icy over sev­eral ad­min­is­tra­tions — has be­come less con­cern­ing than the re­gional and in­ter­na­tional threat posed by a nu­clear Iran. He likes re­cent state­ments by Sec­re­tary of De­fense-des­ig­nate Gen. James Mat­tis about the way for­ward in deal­ing with an un­sta­ble Iran, be­liev­ing Gen. Mat­tis rec­og­nizes that as im­por­tant as it is to de­feat the Is­lamic State, or ISIS, the real threat in the Mid­dle East is Iran.

It’s not only the nu­clear deal that both­ers Mr. Sho­val, though he be­lieves Iran will even­tu­ally have a bomb, un­less it is stopped. It is also both­er­some that Iran con­tin­ues with its ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties, sub­si­diz­ing anti-Amer­i­can and anti-Is­rael groups around the world be­cause rad­i­cal mul­lahs think their god has or­dered them to do so. That makes any kind of diplo­matic agree­ment with na­tions Iran re­gards as “in­fi­dels” im­pos­si­ble.

Even when the battle for Mo­sul is over and vic­tory has been de­clared over that ISIS strong­hold, Mr. Sho­val be­lieves, “what it re­ally will mean is that the Ira­ni­ans and the Shia are go­ing to be the real vic­tors. They will con­tinue their at­tempts to build a ter­ri­to­rial cor­ri­dor all the way to the Mediter­ranean along with Hezbol­lah, which is not only a threat to Is­rael, but also some­thing the so-called mod­er­ate Arab states look at with a great deal of con­cern.”

Mr. Sho­val says he hopes the in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­al­izes that Iran can­not be a part­ner with the United States in the Mid­dle East “even if from time to time it seems like that be­cause of what’s hap­pen­ing in Syria. Ul­ti­mately, Iran is a great dan­ger.”

Peo­ple like for­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter have a dif­fer­ent world­view. In a re­cent op-ed for The New York Times, Mr. Carter called on Mr. Obama to rec­og­nize a Pales­tinian state be­fore he leaves of­fice. Mr. Carter also called on the United Na­tions to pass a res­o­lu­tion set­ting the pa­ram­e­ters for “re­solv­ing the con­flict.”

I be­lieve in mir­a­cles, but for the U.N., or any­one else, to re­solve a con­flict in which one side thinks it has a heav­enly man­date to de­stroy the other is not where most peo­ple would see as a good start­ing point for con­flict res­o­lu­tion. Mr. Carter con­tin­ues to trade off his one suc­cess — the peace agree­ment be­tween Egypt and Is­rael. But get­ting one thing right with a unique com­bi­na­tion of lead­ers, one of whom — An­war Sa­dat — was as­sas­si­nated by Is­lamic fa­nat­ics for mak­ing peace with Is­rael, is like an astrologer want­ing credit for one pre­dic­tion that came true while ig­nor­ing hun­dreds that didn’t.

Mr. Sho­val dis­agrees with those who think the Is­rael-Pales­tinian sta­tus quo is not sus­tain­able. He be­lieves it is, oth­er­wise a Pales­tinian state “would mean Ha­mas and Hezbol­lah would be just 20 min­utes away” from Jerusalem and in a po­si­tion to over­whelm Is­rael.

In his book, “The Field of Fight,” Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s pick to head the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, writes about Pres­i­dent Obama: “I find it sim­ply in­cred­i­ble that an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent should be­lieve a strate­gic al­liance with Iran to be more at­trac­tive than our tra­di­tional em­brace of Is­rael. Our new lead­ers need to re­verse that, pronto. We will need Is­rael if we’re go­ing to de­feat the rad­i­cal Is­lamists, and above all, the Ira­ni­ans.”

This is the op­po­site of wish­ful think­ing.


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