The Secret at the Heart of the Israel-U.S. Alliance on Iran

David Horovitz makes an excellent point in his Times of Israel column: From the American standpoint, an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities will always be premature. The Obama Administration has argued -- and is arguing in earnest this month -- that it has the Iran matter in hand. The President has stated it as clearly as he can state it that he intends to stop Iran from going nuclear by force, if it comes to that. So from Obama's perspective, any Israeli strike runs the huge risk of being premature, rash, ineffective and counterproductive; many of the same arguments, in other words, made very publicly by the former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan. Here's Horovitz:

...(T)here is one great unspoken secret at the complicated heart of this highly sensitive relationship between two true allies facing what, for one of them -- the weaker and more immediately threatened one -- is a potentially existential danger: There is no circumstance, absolutely no circumstance whatsoever, in which the United States will empathize with an Israeli decision to strike alone at Iran's nuclear facilities.

No American official will come out and say this. No Israeli official will acknowledge it. But that is the case, notwithstanding Obama's declared support for "Israel's sovereign right to make its own decisions about what is required to meet its security needs."

Why is this so fraught and complicated? A) Because Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn't fully trust President Obama to carry out such a preemptive attack; and B) Both Netanyahu, deep in his Revisionist Zionist bones, and the defense minister, Ehud Barak, deep in his Labor Zionist bones, believe that it is a great moral wrong for Israel to subcontract out its defense to another country, even to its most stalwart ally. The Obama Administration understands the internal pressure these two men are facing, which is why it is dispatching half the cabinet this summer to Jersualem, to try to calm them down.

By the way, The Times of Israel, which Horovitz edits, is rapidly becoming an indispensable source for news and analysis out of Jerusalem. Its knee doesn't jerk in the fashion of The Jerusalem Post, and it is not prone to hysterics, as is sometimes the case with Haaretz.

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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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