Less than 1,000 miles from Jerusalem, the Iranian government is operating in open violation of international law in a singular pursuit of developing nuclear weapons. Under the cloud of this threat, Israel is considering all options in order to defend its very existence, yet President Barack Obama is failing to grasp the nature of the Iranian beast and has not offered Israel the resolute support it so desperately needs and deserves.
Of course, the President's record falls short of his rhetoric. In a speech yesterday to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee meeting, the President professed his love for Israel, insisting that his Administration has been a staunch ally to America's friend in the Middle East. "I have kept my commitments to the state of Israel," he said. "At every crucial juncture -- at every fork in the road -- we have been there for Israel. Every single time."
Heritage's James Carafano writes that the President left out glaring details on his failure to stand with Israel -- namely by failing to mention the years he spent trying to "engage" with the Syrian and Iranian regimes, his missed opportunity to embrace the Green Revolution against Tehran, and the time wasted pressing Israel to negotiate with a Palestinian authority that tolerates Hamas -- a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
Though the President pledged that nothing is "off the table" when it comes to dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat, throughout his Administration, Obama has failed to go far enough in lending Israel the support it needs at this crucial time and, in fact, has undercut America's ally by warning that an Israeli preventive strike would be premature.
The President's weak commitment to Israel and inadequate posture toward Iran has resulted in a growing distance between the President and his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- a chasm that will be on full display today when the two meet for a summit at the White House. Netanyahu, of course, recognizes the significant threat that the Iranian nuclear program poses to his people. He is determined to prevent another Holocaust, through military means if necessary. Conversely, President Obama evidently does not grasp this threat, underestimates the ideologically based hostility of Iran's Islamist dictatorship, and is relying on diplomacy backed by sanctions to keep Iran under wraps.
In a new paper, Heritage's James Phillips explains that this conflicting view of Iran has bred a glaring lack of trust between Israel and the United States. He says that today, the two leaders must begin developing a common understanding of how to confront Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons and present a credible military threat to Tehran:
Given the bellicose statements of Iran's leaders calling for Israel's destruction, Iran's long history of supporting terrorism, and its growing ballistic missile capabilities--which can already target Israel--Netanyahu is understandably determined to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear capability. President Obama should make it clear that he fully shares those concerns and pledge to take strong action to prevent that from happening.
Phillips recommends a series of actions that President Obama should take in order to bolster America's support of Israel and combat the Iranian threat. Specifically, the President should make every effort to present a common front against Iran, clarify the red lines that will trigger U.S. military action against Iran, set strict conditions on any last-ditch diplomatic talks, and recognize Israel's right to take military action in anticipatory self-defense.
It is one thing for the President to profess his love for Israel -- particularly in an election year. It is another thing for him to take significant action to back up those words. For too long, the President has embraced the philosophy of the "Obama Doctrine" -- an effort to charm America's enemies through engagement, while turning his back on allies like Israel who need America's support. That strategy has not worked, the Iranian threat is growing, and Israel is increasingly vulnerable to nuclear annihilation. If President Obama wants to be a true friend to Israel -- and he should -- then he must change course and offer America's ally the support it needs in guarding against its enemies.