Many Americans who visit Jerusalem like to go shopping at the Mamilla Mall. It’s a comfortable experience. It feels almost like America.
For something more exotic, tourists go to the Arab Shuk. There, they do not find the comfort of a familiar environment. They find only the Shuk merchant.
The Shuk is different. It isn’t air-conditioned. Often, it’s not well-lighted. Individual shops can be tiny. Product is often not marked. Product quality is uncertain.
In America, you can shop with a copy of Consumer Reports in your hand. In the Shuk, Consumer Reports is useless. It’s just you and the Shuk salesman.
Tourists tell tales about the Shuk. They never know if they underpaid or overpaid. They never know if what they heard about their purchases was truth or fiction.
It’s all part of the shuk experience. Instead of feeling empowered by a Consumer guide, one feels only the breath of the Shuk merchant.
Middle East diplomacy works the same way. A Western diplomat in the Middle East is like a tourist at the Shuk: he never knows if what he’s been told is truth or fiction.
We saw this with Saddam Hussein. Western diplomats were convinced that Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Apparently, he did not.
No one ever found evidence of WMD in Iraq. Was it all a lie?
Now, we have Iran. As with Saddam Hussein’s claims, Iran is supposed to have a massive WMD program. But Saddam Hussein had nothing. Does Iran also have nothing?
Iran denies it is working towards a bomb. It says its nuclear program is for peace. Is this a lie—or the truth?
Some argue that Saddam used a fake WMD program to promote himself as the Middle East leader, the only one capable of destroying the Arab’s greatest enemy--Israel. For a while, the ploy worked. His influence blossomed.
This is the question the West cannot answer: is Iran—like Saddam Hussein—just another Shuk salesman playing politics?
No one knows. The European Union says it doesn’t care. It says there are only two ways to explain Iran’s behaviour. Each explanation contradicts the other. But both, the EU says, lead to the same benign conclusion.
The first explanation says that Iran has no nuclear WMD program—that, in essence, Iran’s behaviour is just shuk-talk: a lie designed to sell a product called, Iran the Great.
Therefore, there is no reason to worry. Iran is just a more sophisticated imitation of the Saddam scam.
The second explanation says that Iran will indeed produce a nuclear bomb. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t worry because Iran understands Israel’s own nuclear capability. Iran understands MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction. Iran, like the former Soviet Union, would never start a war that would guarantee its destruction.
Therefore, there is no reason to worry. A nuclear Iran will not attack Israel.
The United States, meanwhile, imitates Hamlet. President Obama makes decisions about Iran—and then unmakes them. The ‘military option’ is not on the table; it is on the table. There will be no talks with Iran; there will be talks.
His diplomacy is just another name for failure-to-act. Does this failure allow Iran to push unopposed towards its bomb?
Now, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—America’s highest ranking officer—becomes bold. He suggests that perhaps the US should avoid direct military action against Iran altogether (Mark Langfan, “Op-Ed: Dempsey’s bombshell: no US attack on Iran, ever”, Arutz Sheva, August 6, 2013).
Hamlet’s hesitation led to tragedy. Is Obama Hamlet?
It’s an important question, given Hamlet’s end, because two reports have appeared in Israel (July 31 and August 7, 2013) that could render Obama’s “diplomacy” irrelevant. One story suggested that Iran could be ready to build nuclear bombs by mid-2014. If those bombs take six-eight months to complete, Iran could be ready for nuclear war in early-mid 2015. According to the second report, 2015 could also be the year Iran completes development of an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile capable of reaching the US.
These reports should bother Mr Obama. He expresses no concern. He will not even criticize Iran.
This indifference to Iran isolates Israel. If no one sees evil in Iran, Israel must look after itself (Jerusalem Post staff, “Official: Israel capable of unilateral strike on Iran, if US not committed”, Jerusalem Post, August 6, 2013). Israel must prepare to defend itself.
Iranian leaders have already declared that they wish to destroy both the Little Satan (Israel) and the Big Satan (America). If the West refuses to protect itself against a potential nuclear threat, it will render itself irrelevant. Its mantle of world leadership will melt.
That leadership will pass to Israel. By defending herself, she will defend everyone. Israel—not the West--will make peace possible.
If that sounds familiar, it is. It’s from our Tanach (Jewish Bible). It’s how our Jewish story ends.