Benjamin Netanyahu and American Presidents

Sept. 19 2023

Yesterday, the Israeli prime minister arrived in San Jose, California for a six-day visit to the U.S., which includes a meeting with Joe Biden at the United Nations on Wednesday. Biden is the seventh president in office since Benjamin Netanyahu came to work at the Israeli embassy in Washington in 1982. Drawing on Netanyahu’s recent autobiography, Tevi Troy dimensions his relations with these American leaders:

Vladimir Jabotinsky believed that making one’s case forcefully and persistently in a democratic society is the best way to bring about preferred policy outcomes. Bibi Netanyahu turned the idea into a reality.

During the Clinton administration, Netanyahu rose to prime minister after winning a 1996 election to replace acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres following the assassination of Yitzḥak Rabin. To say that Clinton and company were disappointed at the result is an understatement. Clinton actively tried to have Netanyahu defeated in the election, but, he later admitted, “I tried to do it in a way that didn’t overtly involve me.” Clinton hadn’t fooled anyone. When Netanyahu next came to the White House, Clinton remembered that Netanyahu “wanted me to know that he knew I wasn’t for him and he beat us anyway.”

In April 2002, [President George W.] Bush demanded that Israel withdraw its troops engaged in Jenin and Shechem/Nablus operations to stop the terrorist bombings of the second intifada. With Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s blessing, Netanyahu flew to Washington and spoke to a bipartisan group of senators. “I am concerned that the imperative of defeating terror everywhere is being ignored when the main engine of Palestinian terror is allowed to remain intact,” he told them. Netanyahu’s words packed a punch in a Washington still focused on responding to 9/11 terror attacks. The Bush administration returned to its statements that Israel should be allowed to defend itself, which took the pressure off and gave Israel room to maneuver. Once again, Netanyahu had used the Jabotinsky method of developing public pressure to help lead to a desired policy outcome.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Second Intifada, U.S.-Israel relationship


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy