In meeting with Bibi, Obama boosted Iran

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Special to WJW

All lies and jest. Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest – “The Boxer,” Paul Simon

President Barack Obama emerged from his meeting last week with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu with these words: “If there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I personally believe it actually runs the other way. To the extent that we can make peace to the Palestinians and the Israelis, then I think that it actually strengthens our hand in the international community in dealing with the Iranian threat.”

This line of thought is feckless. It shows an unwillingness to enter into a necessary paradigm shift acknowledging what is going on within the region’s hearts and minds. It assumes allegiance to statehood is the primary source of identification. In reality, the spirit that has captured the imagination of many in the Muslim and Arab world, particularly the youth, is loyalty to fundamentalist Islamism. This is far more pernicious than dealing with issues of loyalty to statehood.

Such loyalty to fundamentalism becomes a regnant part of one’s very identity, and, particularly when dealing with promises of an afterlife, the stakes that youths are willing to risk are infinitely higher.

One explanation is satellite television, which has brought romantic img of the shahid and the suicide bomber into every Arab and Muslim living room. Yet, many in the Washington policy establishment stubbornly adhere to an outmoded paradigm of allegiance to the state as being the prevailing factor for identification and affiliation, and therefore the primary compelling factor for behavior within the Middle East.

A recent poll taken by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Polling Research indicates that if the Israel Defense Forces were to leave the West Bank today, and free and independent elections were to be held there, an overwhelming majority of residents would vote for Hamas, an Iranian proxy, over Fatah. It is due only to the IDF’s finely honed skills that Fatah is in power today.

The “land for peace” paradigm has been empirically proven to have had the antithetical result of empowering precisely those enemies who despise both Israel, the Minor Satan, and the United States, the Great Satan, equally.

We cannot ignore what happened to Gaza since the summer of 2005, when Israel made the internally gut-wrenching decision to uproot every last Jew, in order to give the Palestinians an opportunity for statehood. That following January, Gazans went to the polls, and freely and independently selected the terrorist group, Hamas. Since then, more than 10,000 Kassam rockets have been launched from there, making life for people in Southern Israel a living hell.

Iran is a destabilizing influence, seeking to flex its muscles and having hegemonic ambitions over the entire region – and doing so from the Palestinian territories. Hamas gets a great deal of its commands, equipment, money and training directly from Tehran.

On March 5, Hamas and Iran held a conference in Tehran, probing ways to work closer together to promote “resistance against Israel.” The conference was opened by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni, by calling Israel “a cancerous tumor” and exhorting that “resistance against the Zionist entity is the only way to save the Palestinians.”

Therefore, immediate withdrawal, whether one states that it is for the sake of peace or not, will simply empower Iran, not the other way around.

Finally, in Iran, we are dealing with a toxic combination of state-sanctioned incitement to commit genocide and a full-throttled technological exertion to do so. Israel does not have the strategic depth to absorb one atomic bomb, making this an existential issue.

The essential question becomes: Will the Obama administration use the Iranian nuclear threat as leverage to extract concessions out of Israel, therefore buying itself goodwill within the international arena, as the Iranians use this time as a smokescreen to make their talk of genocide come to fruition?

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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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