Did Obama Threaten Military Action Against Israel?

A shocking, if dubiously sourced, report claims President Obama threatened to shoot Israeli warplanes out of the sky if the country launched airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. The report comes from Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency by way of Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida. According to the report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to launch the airstrikes after learning that the U.S. and Iran had been engaged in secret talks regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

That Netanyahu has been a fierce opponent of these talks is no revelation. However, the report claims that Netanyahu told his Army chief of staff to draw up plans for an airstrike after several days of discussion with top cabinet officials. The paper even claims that Israeli pilots trained for the attacks and flew exploratory missions through Iranian airspace in preparation for the strikes.

Unnamed Israeli officials told Al-Jarida that once President Obama got wind of the planned airstrikes, he warned Netanyahu that U.S. forces would shoot down any Israeli jets before they arrived at their targets. Ma’an reports that it was this incident that caused the now-strained relations between Israel and the Obama administration.

Under ordinary circumstances, a report this far-fetched and devoid of on-the-record sources could be safely dismissed as pure fantasy. Unfortunately, we are not living in ordinary times. This administration is getting ready to sign an historic agreement with Iran that would permit them to begin enriching uranium under close observation. To say the Israeli prime minister is opposed to such a deal would be the understatement of the century. Netanyahu is scheduled to speak before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday morning, where he will undoubtedly make the case against lifting sanctions against the rogue state.

A Deadly Proposition

Whether the report is true, exaggerated, or pure fiction, the fact remains that Obama is wading into dangerous waters with this Iranian deal. The administration insists that the deal is our only hope of avoiding war with the Islamic Republic, but there is reason to fear that war is coming regardless. Israel is not the only Middle Eastern country that fears a nuclear-capable Iran.

It’s unlikely that Iran would lash out if the talks come to a close and the sanctions continue. The theocracy knows that they would be quickly pummeled by the United States and Israel. That said, an Iran that succeeds in developing nuclear weapons is an Iran to be feared. One strike against Israel could kill hundreds of thousands of people and lead to a Middle Eastern war the likes of which have never been seen. That’s the scenario that doesn’t involve those nukes finding their way into the hands of terrorists. Either way, it’s a situation that must be avoided at all costs.

Backing away from the negotiation table would be a minor embarrassment for President Obama. It would be an admission that his critics were right all along. It would also be one of the wisest decisions this president has made. So wise, in fact, that it’s almost impossible to hope that it might happen.


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