Israeli Prime Minister and Likud Party candidate Benjamin Netanyahu campaigns in Netanya, Israel, on March 11, 2015. Newscom View Enlarged Image
Mideast: Tuesday’s elections in Israel might be the most important in history. A loss by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could, along with a bad Iranian nuclear deal, form a perfect storm of Islamist power.
The July 1984 Israeli elections resulted in a hung Knesset and an awkward Likud-Labor right-left coalition. Washington’s reaction to the result indicated there would be no “bold steps” in the Palestinian “peace process.”
Late liberal Irish diplomat and onetime editor of Britain’s Observer, Conor Cruise O’Brien, questioned “the implicit assumption that there are any results at all likely in any general election in Israel, ever, that would lead to the taking of the desired ‘bold steps.'”
O’Brien titled his long book on Israel’s founding and future “The Siege” — a recognition that the Jewish state by its nature has always been, and continues to be today, under siege from hostile Islamic neighbors.
But today it is on the threshold of a new phase: a nuclear siege.
An island of Western civilization under continuous, existential siege requires, as it has in the past, a Winston Churchill. Bibi Netanyahu is that leader.
The challenger who in the run-up to the election appeared to have a growing lead on Netanyahu’s Likud Party, socialist Yitzhak Herzog of the center-left Zionist Union, is in the mold of those who believe deal-making is the solution to the threats this country faces — a Palestinian pact to placate Hamas; an Iran pact to tame the ayatollah.
This is as much wishful thinking as Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler. And even if a Netanyahu-Herzog coalition is the result Tuesday, a Churchill sharing power with a Chamberlain is not muscular enough for the Mideast’s next few years.
Only Netanyahu can be expected to accept the dark reality if the U.S. and other major powers agree to the “bad deal” with Iran that he warned Congress of last month — a deal apparently close to finality. Only he will execute the military option, as Menachem Begin did in bombing Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981.
Because if Iran spends years operating under a charade agreement in which it continues to work toward nuclear armaments while the world pretends it is not, it ultimately means a nuclear free-for-all in the Mideast.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria and others will seek nuclear arms to try to prevent the world’s foremost terrorist state from becoming the dominant Mideast power. Cairo, for instance, with three different governments in as many years, could buy atomic weapons from nuclear Pakistan and become politically destabilized within months.
The U.S. certainly could not envision a stauncher ally than Netanyahu. For the sake of his own country’s defense at a momentous time, and for the protection of the free world from the greatest threat it currently faces — a nuclear-armed Iran — this 21st century Churchill must not become history at the hands of his electorate. He should be allowed to make history.