On Sunday the Washington Post featured an op-ed “What Bill Clinton can teach Obama about the Israelis.” It was written by Natan B. Sachs, an Israeli “research fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.”
Sachs opined that it is possible for the White House to disagree with Israelis on some policy issues as long as there is a presumption that the U.S. president really cares about them. That view can certainly be challenged, as it assumes that American national interests have to be first explained to the Israeli public and then negotiated with Benjamin Netanyahu, but one notable aspect of the op-ed was the subliminal message it delivered. In a 1500-word article Iran was cited no less than nine times: “Iran’s nuclear program;” “Iran’s ominous rhetoric and nuclear ambitions;” “the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program;” “deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions;” “prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons;” “concern over a nuclear Iran;” “prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons;” “getting Israelis to trust him [Obama] on Iran;” and “crisis over Iran’s nuclear program.”
Okay, I get it. Sachs is hardly a disinterested observer or he wouldn’t be working at the Saban Center, and he wants to make sure that every reader accepts what he believes to be true from the Israeli perspective, i.e that a menacing Iran that must be dealt with by whatever means are necessary. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by anyone should concern all of us, but the constant iteration of the alleged Iranian threat is little more than demonization of a foreign country that has not in fact actually threatened anyone. It seeks to establish a casus belli for staging a preemptive attack based on allegations that are themselves light on actual evidence. Both U.S. and Israeli intelligence actually agree that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapons program and has not made the essentially political decision to start one.