In the wake of public tensions between US leaders and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over several issues in the Middle East, Arutz Sheva Radio has interviewed Professor Moshe Arens. Arens is a former Foreign Minister and Defense Minister who had a difficult time dealing with an uncooperative US administration in the 1980s.
Prof. Arens clarifies that the differences between the US and Israel on vital issues - i.e. Israel's relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the right course of action in stopping a nuclear Iran - are important not only in an Israeli context, but also in an American political forum. Arens specifically relates to differences between Israel's stance on Iran, which supports a military strike if necessary, and the US's, which prefers diplomacy at potentially great cost.
Arens emphasizes that he supports Netanyahu's position on Iran. Not only is a deal incapable of preventing Iran from continuing to build nuclear weapons, Arens says, but international support for sanctions against the regime will collapse, leaving Iran to do as it pleases in pursuing its enemies in the Middle East.
By contrast, Arens points out that Americans fear a military confrontation, and would be willing to do almost anything to avoid it. Arens theorizes that this is due to widely held views by the American public, who believe that intervening in Iraq and Afghanistan was a mistake, and thus igniting fears of another prolonged military conflict overseas.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, believes that an absence of a diplomatic deal with Iran is better than a bad deal - a stance that Arens insists is completely justified.
"A nuclear Iran is a danger to the entire world - even to the Americans," Arens stated. He pointed out that Americans do not see the situation as a purely Israeli issue, and that the American government is determined to prevent another military move lacking public support, "so they simulate reality as they want it to be, not as it really is," despite other world leaders knowing full well the gravity of the situation.
Arens emphasized repeatedly that economic sanctions against Iran have devastated the Iranian economy; to release themselves from an economic crisis, Iranian leaders are pasting a smile on their faces and cooperating with negotiations - without any actual intentions to keep peace in the Middle East.
Arens was also asked how the Israeli government should handle tensions with the US. While MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) argues that Israel should not share its disagreements with US official policy with the press and the general public, MK Gideon Saar (Likud) maintains that the PM should boldly defend Israel's security in clear, bold, public statements.
"We need to present the truth exactly as we see it," Arens said, supporting Saar's take on the issue. "We are not talking about trivialities, but vital differences of opinion regarding issues which are very very important. There is no point in remaining silent and ignoring the fact that events are going down a very wrong path in this regard," Arens explained. He praised the PM for stating the truth in such a difficult situation.
As for the future relationship between Israel and the US, Arens believes that if Iran were to sign a nuclear arms deal, it would simply continue building - which would not only be difficult and dangerous for Israel, but for the whole world. Arens does say that despite the fact that such an agreement would hang over both Israel and the US, that a bilateral relationship would continue nonetheless.
"We haven't gotten to that point yet, we hope to not have to get to that point, and it's good that France has stopped the process" for the time being, Arens concluded, referring to reports that France stopped Iran from achieving a deal with international powers during P5+1 talks.