Israel's Iran Debate Comes to America

Two Push Opposing Views at Height of Election Season

By Nathan Guttman

Published September 14, 2012, issue of September 21, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Yet for some observers, Danon’s direct attacks on Obama, and the public chill coming from the prime minister’s office toward the president, are reminiscent of the 1972 elections, when Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel’s ambassador to Washington, openly supported Richard Nixon.

Ever since, Israelis tried to steer clear of American election politics, but the prominent role Israel is playing in the foreign policy debate in this election cycle has made them difficult to avoid. Both candidates have been pointing to Israeli leaders as backing their views: Obama and his campaign by quoting Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres praising Obama’s friendship, and the Romney campaign by producing a video message showing the warm embrace the candidate received from Israeli leaders during his July visit to Jerusalem.

“Iran has become a kind of political case, and that’s the wrong approach,” argued Halutz, a retired lieutenant general. The former IDF chief of staff and Air Force commander presented his listeners with a view opposite of that of Danon, one that the Obama campaign could gladly embrace at the meeting for reporters sponsored by J Street.

The dovish lobby is advocating for a diplomatic resolution of the Iran crisis. The group noted, however, that Halutz was speaking on his own behalf, not on that of J Street.

In his presentation, Halutz warned against using the American political system to bypass the president. He stressed that as long as Israel isn’t facing an existential threat—which, in contrast to Netanyahu, he did not consider Iran to currently present—Israel should “take some risks in order to keep the relationship” with the United States. Obama’s resolve to prevent Iran from going nuclear, Halutz said, “is not measured by how many times he comes to visit Israel,” a quip at critics who say Obama refraining from visiting Israel as president reflects his negative feelings toward the Jewish state.

Explaining the administration’s refusal to draw red lines, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on September 10 that it “is not fruitful as part of this process to engage in that kind of specificity.”

Halutz offered a more colorful iteration of this policy. “I don’t think super powers should use red lines,” he said. “An elephant doesn’t use red lines against an ant.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.