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In September of 1995, I was invited to the home of prominent Israeli news broadcaster Nissim Mishal, anchor of Israel’s mainstream, popular Channel 2 news. We were then discussing the increasingly apparent violations of the Oslo Accords by the Palestinian Authority, then under Chairman Yasser Arafat.  

At one point during the discussion, Nissim leaned into the group, with a grave look, almost whispering, “I was just at a highly classified briefing at Israeli Military Headquarters, and there is a much more existential problem looming out of the East. The Iranians are working on a nuclear bomb. And we had better listen to what the Americans want us to do with the Palestinians, because we will need them when it comes to the Iranian nuclear threat.” 

Over the past two and a half decades, Israelis felt that they needed to go along with the charade that the Palestinian Authority were peacemakers, as opposed to the more violent Hamas.  They knew fully well that the P.A. was systematically teaching their children that there was one name for the map of Israel – Palestine – to which they exhorted decades of Palestinian children to return.

They knew fully well that UNRWA’s Palestinian textbook (an agency to which the United States contributed approximately $197 million dollars this year) are replete with antisemitism and anti-Zionism. They knew full well that the Palestinian schools and their media outlets strongly encourage their children to conduct acts of jihad, deifying “shahids” (martyrs), constantly relitigating the 1948 conflict, over Israel’s existence, not the 1967 conflict over Israel’s borders.  

All of this Israeli submission to the will of successive American administrations has eroded what only decades ago was strong, bipartisan support for Israel. It has also helped cement in the brains of many young people decades of horrific slanderous attacks that have been bandied about, by most of the professoriate, and taken by most unsuspecting students at face value that Israel “stole” “Palestinian land,” that Israel is a “colonial” “fascist” and “apartheid” state.  

By now this has infiltrated into the corridors of power throughout the country. 

None of the lengthy history of Israel’s willingness to accept multiple offers for a two-state solution is ever taught, going all the way back to the Peel commission in 1937, (where they would accept a mere 15% of the land offered). No one mentions the incredibly generous offers made by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to Chairman Yassir Arafat at Camp David on July 25, 2000 for 97% percent of the West Bank or Judea and Samaria, or the even more generous offer of withdrawing from almost the entire West Bank and a partition of Jerusalem made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to President Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.  

Each one of these offers was met by a new round of violence, let alone the missiles, balloons and kites  with incendiary devices attached, and thousands upon thousands of missiles launched into Israeli communities.  

Yet, Israelis have held their tongues, hoping that when the big, existential threat is upon them, the Americans will come through. 

Well, crunch time has arrived. According to both Israeli and American nuclear scientists, the Iranians are just weeks away from having enough highly enriched uranium for total nuclear breakout. We also know that they have the delivery mechanism. What no one is certain of is whether they have the “weaponization” program, or the means for delivering the fissile material via drones or missiles. 

Having placed all of our eggs in the “diplomacy” basket, the United States only has a few tools left in its tool box. The credible threat of military force is the only solution. 

It was somewhat encouraging that the U.S. Treasury Department sanctions against several Iranian companies involved in manufacturing drones, and that on Saturday, the US military flew 1B bombers over the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow opening in the Persian Gulf.  

Both of these steps are necessary, but not sufficient.  Iran must feel the heavy price to pay for its malevolent behavior. 

Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, 28 years of erosion of support for Israel has done tremendous damage to Israel’s standing in the community of nations manifested by, among other things, the increasingly popular international BDS movement.  

The Faustian bargain that the Israelis made to go along with muzzling the truth about the decades upon decades of maligned Palestinian behavior has created a Frankenstein, while the trust that Israel has placed in America coming through at “crunch time” with Iran, may not be warranted. 

Israel might well be left on its own in a multiple-front war. 

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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