Iran is the last item President Barack Obama wants as an election issue, and he also can do without Israel, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu so far is forcing his hand.
Everyone knows but no one says that the Obama administration would prefer to deal with a center-left government, and Netanyahu would prefer Mitt Romney in the White House.
If Obama is going to be against Israel no matter how nice Netanyahu is, he may have nothing to lose and everything to gain by forcing Obama to deal with unwanted elections issues.
Whether or not Israel should attack Iran to stop or delay its unstated program to manufacture and deliver a nuclear warhead has been in the headlines virtually every day the past month, encouraged by Israel officials on both sides of the argument.
American leaders were unable to remain silent, lest their lack of reaction be interpreted as tacit support, and the result has been a flood of news that also has brought Iran into the medley of threats and mockery of Israel and the United States.
Netanyahu appears to be in the minority view of those who argue that the “window is closing” on an attack, and Israel’s Yediot Aharonot, one of the leading anti-Netanyahu antagonists, has published several articles that say Israel is going to be in trouble if Obama wins the election.
The newspaper quoted an Israeli cabinet minister as saying, “if he is reelected, he will make Netanyahu pay for his behavior.”
Another ”high-ranking political official” was quoted as saying that if Obama wins a second term, the United States may not support Israel in the United Nations when anti-Israeli resolutions are raised. “In everything that pertains to the settlements, Israel can forget about an American veto,” the official reportedly stated.
However, Netanyahu, an excellent chess player who once won a tie with chess master Natan Sharansky, may have nothing to lose by thundering over Iran. As a second-term president, Obama presumably would be even less cooperative with the Israeli government than he was during his first term, which was marked by several frigid moments between the president and the Prime Minister.
Regardless of whether an Israeli strike is imminent, talk of an attack is enough to worry Americans. Their number one concern is the sluggish economy, and even the threat of a conflict with Iran has boosted oil prices, forcing up the price at the pump and taking precious dollars away from other expenditures.
If Netanyahu is manipulating the chess board, the next move is Romney's, who can punch holes not only in Obama’s economic policies but also on foreign policy, which has been all but stellar.
Netanyahu has one big ally with tremendous influence in both Israel and the United States – Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson. He owns the pro-Netanyahu Yisrael HaYom newspaper and has pledged to donate up to $100 million to help prevent Obama from winning a second term.
Polls have shown that Israel is on the low end of the totem pole as an election issue, but a threat to Americans’ economic and defense security would be problematic for Obama.
Romney and Obama are running almost at par, depending on the poll and the day, and unless the unemployment rate suddenly drops, which is not expected, Netanyahu may continue to play the Iranian issue on the chessboard.