The Real Opportunity Confronting Israel

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Iran has performed the steps required under the multinational agreement negotiated last year.  It has dismantled its rapid capability to  develop a nuclear bomb, has accepted international monitoring, and now is released from international sanctions. A new era of better relations between Iran and the U.S. could happen. Israel’s inappropriate attack in the U.S. Congress on the multiparty agreement with Iran  could be forgotten.

Or could it? Israelis need to address the next phase of their relationship with Iran and the the Arab states and with the U.S. Will the Netanyahu government seek to participate in the coming U.S. presidential election in a continuing battle to advance American militarism and the candidates who walk that line? Or will  Israel take the opportunity that the Iran Agreement offers to try for a better future?

Argument will not cease over whether the Iran Agreement is good or bad, or better or worse than the U.S. (and the nations China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom who joined with us) might have achieved. What is undeniable is that the Agreement sets the stage for a 15-year period of opportunity.

David Hazony argued that Netanyahu is a centrist measured against the majority of the Israeli body politic. He said that American Jews in the “moderate middle” have lost touch with the authentic Jews and Jewish sovereignty that exist in Israel today.

But leadership, whether by Netanyahu or Obama, has the obligation to carry us in productive directions. For America this means building relationships across the world, because we are the preeminent world power. For Israel this means building bridges between their political island and the sea of Arabs that surround them.  At a minimum, Israelis must accept that their government has no veto on American foreign policy, and must make its own way.

Israelis may believe that they are invincible. Their government may have sold them the idea that they can live with occasional terrorist activity, and if the level of that activity grows objectionable from time to time, they can launch a military strike to quell it.  As a standing bet, that is tough. Technology moves forward, and seemingly impervious defenses are sometimes breached. Then there is the question of sustaining a confrontational posture in the face of a growing Arab population within Israel.

Israelis need to find their own pathway to the future. The challenge to Israel today is to make the best use of the 15-year multinationally supervised breather with Iran, its most vocal enemy. Every step Israel can take to come to terms with its Arab neighbors that remain estranged, and everything that Israel can do to advance the condition of Arabs within and along its borders, deserves to be explored in the most serious way.

That is the real opportunity that is available to Israelis. We can hope that they are not blinded to it by the ferocity of the rhetoric of their leadership.

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