COMMENTARY | President Rohani of Iran has impressed the world, especially President Barack Obama, with a new moderate tone. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is having none of it. He regards the moderate tone as cosmetic.
Rohani, in Netanyahu’s view, is not quite so moderate after all.
“Well, Rohani headed Iran’s Supreme National Security Council from 1989 through 2003. During that time Iran’s henchmen gunned down opposition leaders in a Berlin restaurant. They murdered 85 people at the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. They killed 19 American soldiers by blowing up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.
“Are we to believe that Rohani, the national security adviser of Iran at the time, knew nothing about these attacks?
“Of course he did, just as 30 years ago Iran’s security chiefs knew about the bombings in Beirut that killed 241 American Marines and 58 French paratroopers.
“Rohani was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005. He masterminded the – the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons program behind a smoke screen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric.
“Now I know: Rohani doesn’t sound like Ahmadinejad. But when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the only difference between them is this: Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing. Rohani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a wolf who thinks he can pull the eyes – the wool over the eyes of the international community.”
Netanyahu may be forgiven for taking such a forthright approach where it comes to Iran. A nuclear armed Iran would be alarming to the world community. For the State of Israel, it might well mean total destruction. In Netanyahu’s view, Rohani means to lull the world community with honeyed words in order to have economic sanctions lifted without Iran actually having to end its nuclear weapons program.
The Israeli prime minister also had a warning, that one suspects that many in his audience did not want to hear. “Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself.”
The meaning was quite clear. The world community, including the United States, must deprive Iran of its ambitions to be a nuclear power or else Israel will do it alone, if necessary. Israel has often been accused of intransigence, but when the lives of millions are on the line, that is not a bad thing to be.