While The New York Times and The Washington Post hailed the dramatic release of Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini , Nosratollah Khosravi and Matthew Trevithick, one American — former FBI agent Robert Levinson — was left behind. It is not without irony that the one left behind is Jewish, as this is emblematic of President Barack Obama’s utter disregard for the Jewish state and its legitimate concerns for survival during the nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Last Sunday, the day after “Implementation Day,” the much anticipated day when world powers lifted economic sanctions on Iran, Obama said, “This is a good day, because once again, we’re seeing what is possible with strong American diplomacy. … I am happy to mark a milestone on several fronts. … Several Americans, unjustly detained by Iran, are finally coming home. In some cases, these Americans have faced years of continued detention. I have met with some of their families. I have seen their anguish, how they ache for their sons, their husbands. I gave these families my word, I made a vow, that we would do everything in our power to win the release their loved ones, and we have been tireless.”
But apparently, Obama was too tired to win the release of one Jewish American, left withering on the vine, somewhere in the Islamic republic.
And for the sake of comparison, while the U.S. was able to win the release of five Americans, “an overall number of 28 Iranians were freed or were relieved of judicial restrictions within the framework of the agreement,” according to a Fars news agency report that quoted an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman.
This detail was somehow left out of during the triumphant victory lap taken by Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. Their triumphalism ignores the very real geostrategic concerns that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised during his address to Congress last March — concerns about Iran’s proven ability to cheat, concerns about the inability to inspect that which we do not know about and concerns about the Iranian regime’s repeated threats to destroy Israel, as well as the U.S.
Not only was Israel not party to the nuclear talks, but its concerns have been cynically distorted and adroitly manipulated by the Obama administration to drive a political wedge into America’s relationship with Israel.
Shortly after Netanyahu’s address to Congress in March, a colleague of mine who has worked for many years on black-Jewish relations for a different organization expressed outrage to me about Netanyahu’s speech. He said he was unable to talk to members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the wake of the speech and he was somewhat dismissive of the legitimacy of Israel’s concerns for its survival.
However, this person had a rather narrow perspective. Black-Jewish relations are indeed important, but there more weighty matters at stake here. The primary responsibility of national leader is to ensure the survival of their nation and citizens. That is what 17th-century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes described in “Leviathan” as the fundamental reason for why nation states exists.
Approximately $150 billion in frozen assets will be now released to Iran, and it is an irrefutable fact that some portion of this money will go to straight to the terrorist coffers of Hezbollah and Hamas, among other groups. Obama himself acknowledged after the signing of the nuclear deal last July, saying, “I think it is a mistake to characterize our belief that they will just spend it on day care centers, and roads, and paying down debt.”
This is precisely what Ayatollah Ali Khamenei outlined in his 416-page book “Palestine,” in which when he described the elimination of Israel in stages, through a series of horrific terrorist attacks that would make all Jews want to permanently leave Israel. Khamenei stated that he was not recommending “classical wars” to wipe Israel off the map, as former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had suggested. Instead, Khamenei prescribed a long period of low-intensity warfare designed to make life unpleasant, if not impossible, for a majority of Israeli Jews, so that they leave the country.
Khamenei prides himself on Iran’s ability to make life miserable for Israel through terrorist attacks by its proxies in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. “We have intervened in anti-Israel matters, and it brought victory in the 33-day war by Hezbollah against Israel in 2006 and in the 22-day war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip,” Khamenei reportedly wrote.
All of this will become infinitely more achievable with the vast enhancement of Iran’s ability to exert its power over the entire Middle East region via the threat of nuclear annihilation. That is because even if the Iranians do not cheat on the deal, they will still eventually have a nuclear bomb, within 10 or 15 years. This is not even mentioning Iran’s new, significantly increased ability to funnel millions, if not billions of dollars, to its proxy terrorist organizations.
Just as Levinson’s survival was ignored by the Obama administration, so too were concerns about Israel’s survival. Average Americans should not ignore, however, that the American and Israeli flags are burned together on the streets of Iran every week after Friday prayers.
Originally published at Israel Hayom: https://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=15041