Andrew Cohen: Obama is right to ignore Netanyahu (Ottawa Citizen)

In the Jewish calendar, the interlude between Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is called the Days of Awe. During these 10 days, Jews reflect on themselves and their faith.

Like observant Jews everywhere, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will consider his conduct over the last year and seek forgiveness for his transgressions. He will have much to contemplate. Before the Days of Awe, Netanyahu had his Days of Audacity.

That’s audacity as in effrontery, not boldness. Netanyahu’s cardinal sin is interfering in the domestic politics of the United States, Israel’s friend, ally and benefactor, in a manner that is disingenuous, ungrateful and irresponsible.

Twice this month, Netanyahu has told the United States, publicly, to give Iran an ultimatum on its nuclear program. It should draw “a red line” that Iran cannot cross, he says. “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red line before Israel,” he told a news conference this month.

His point: that if America is not going to set limits on the Iranians and nuclear weapons, it has no right to tell Israel what to do.

As if those dense Americans didn’t recognize themselves as “the international community,” Netanyahu later went on American television to drive home the point.

Let’s get beyond the coded conversation. The prime minister is saying that President Barack Obama is unreliable. He does this as the president seeks re-election against a Republican who attacks him for being soft on Iran and hard on Israel, who claims Obama is “throwing Israel under the bus.”

It is very simple and very dangerous, Netanyahu’s game. In portraying Obama as weak, he plays to the Republican canard that on Israel — as in events in Libya and Egypt — the president has no backbone.

This is beyond audacity. It is chutzpah.

No wonder Obama is snubbing Netanyahu when he visits the United Nations this week. He resents Netanyahu’s megaphone diplomacy, which tries to drag the U.S. into a premature, preventive war, as well as his ingratitude for America’s magnanimous financial and military support of Israel.

For months, Netanyahu has been warning that Iran is getting the bomb, a refrain from him and other alarmists we have heard for 20 years. In his messianic view of himself and Jewish history, Israel has no choice but to strike first.

Netanyahu continues to argue this amid growing opposition in Israel, particularly among influential insiders, such as Meir Dagan, who ran Mossad. Read Dagan’s assessment of Iran in the New Yorker, and see the emptiness — and recklessness — of Netanyahu’s declarations on Iran.

It was madness to speak of hitting Iran in January, when Netanyahu began his new season of sabre-rattling, and it is madness now. Attacking Iran isn’t about weak-kneed morality. It is about hard-headed practicality.

And practically speaking, it just doesn’t add up.

No credible intelligence suggests that Israel has the ability to destroy Iran’s capacity to make a nuclear bomb. It can delay it, yes, for six to 24 months.

So there's a big shock. A dithering academic fluff-maker finds it important to defend the campaigner-in-chief, the radical-inspired, duck-and-cover, lead-from-behind Progressive borne of academia, President Barack Obama. As if he needs defending. Poor Obama, all he's got is the world's biggest bully pulpit from which be may mislead the world, nothing more. Well, there is that nagging left-leaning TV and print media that dotes on him, not to mention all the surrogates who sustain this largest head among figureheads.

Yet, a Canadian professor is coming to poor little Barry's defense against that overbearing master of mean, Bibi of tiny little Israel. That harbinger of threats to the world from Europe to Asia, that radical theocracy run by... oh wait. I'm talking about Iran. What the hell is this Canadian school marm's honey doing? Is he meshugenah?! He's defending Obama's rejection of personal talks with Bibi?

Yes, let's not rattle sabres at Iran, that might get them riled up. We can't have that. They're such a peaceful nation. Well, after Obama essentially ignored that people's uprising in Iran, which the totalitarian theocracy violently held down, that is. They've been peaceful since then, huh? Well, except for shipping arms to Syria. They've been. No, no I'm wrong, Iran isn't worth our attention.

Israel is, however. Just not according to one Jewish-Canadian academic fluff-maker. And the ladies on "The View." You're in good company there, Mr. Cohen!

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