The Middle East is under assault from Iran, its allies and its surrogates. Whether in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen or Iraq, Iran is projecting its power and seeking to destabilize Israel and its neighbors. Iran’s hegemonic ambitions and the cataclysmic danger the region and the West will face should Iran possess a nuclear weapons capability (thereby initiating a regional arms race) are the central issues for non-jihadist countries. Obama in effect is saying “shut up” to the leader of the country most affected by the Iranian threat. As bad as that may be, even worse is Obama’s refusal to discuss the issue in broader terms. To the contrary, he is seeking rapprochement with Iran. His temper tantrum at the prospect that Netanyahu might discuss this within hearing range of lawmakers and the American people is not the sign of someone who is confident, has the facts on his side or knows what he is doing. The very fact that Obama made this into an international incident reminds Israelis — who overwhelmingly distrust him — how perilous their most important alliance is and how anxious Obama is to give away the store at the bargaining table.
Obama must imagine he holds great sway over world opinion, for he is banking that his shushing of Netanyahu will cause a rally round the leader — him! In fact, as the poll suggests, the more the U.S. president attacks Netanyahu and acquiesces to Iran’s demands, the less credibility he will have in Israel, in Sunni Arab countries and, of course, in Tehran. The mullahs surely must conclude from this that Obama and Israel are out of sync, Obama intends to sell Israel down the river and Obama is desperate for a deal, no matter what the terms. Leaks continue to drip out of Vienna negotiations suggesting that the West is prepared to let Iran keep its nuclear weapons infrastructure — precisely what we committed once upon a time to disabling, by force if need be.
The hideous murder of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, burned to death by agents of the Islamic State, could not make it any more clear that we are in a battle for Western civilization — really, any civilization — against Islamic jihadists. And yet all that induces from Obama is another bland and empty statement of condemnation. One has the distinct impression that he is much more aggrieved by Congress and Israel, which stand in the way of his capitulation to the jihadists. Israelis have noticed this as well. And that pretty much explains why they are rallying around the toughest prime minister they can find.