Romney Apparently Doesn't Want Israel to Attack Iran (For Now)

Mitt Romney's announcement that he will be visiting Israel later this month puts Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister, Ehud Barak, in a rather odd position: If they were to launch an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in the wake of that visit -- and I think it is plausible, though not probable, that they would act fairly soon -- it would smack of conspiracy. How could Netanyahu receive the American opposition candidate for president, a man with whom he is reputedly close friends (though I think the relationship between Romney and Netanyahu is a bit overstated), and then pivot and strike Iran?

Anything is possible, of course, and Ehud Barak, speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival over the weekend, did not make it seem as if there is a great deal of time left before Israel has to decide whether or not to attack, but still -- an attack following a closed-door meeting with Romney would strike many people, including and especially the man who is still the American president, as odd and undermining. This doesn't mean, of course, that Israel couldn't strike Iran before the November election, it just means that an attack, should it happen (obligatory Goldblog caveat: I don't want it to happen) might be pushed off somewhat by Romney's coming Middle East intervention.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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