Why Israel Still Can’t Trust That Obama Has Its Back

When the President of the United States repeatedly says he’s got your back, and in precisely those words, what more can you ask for?

Yet as I read Obama’s interview with Jeff Goldberg in The Atlantic, then his speech to the AIPAC convention, and finally reports of his meeting with Netanyahu, I felt increasingly uneasy. True, Obama went farther than he ever has in reassuring Israel of his commitment to stopping a nuclear Iran. He explicitly mentioned the military option. He upheld Israel’s right to defend itself. He articulated the reasons why a nuclear Iran would be disastrous—from an accelerated nuclear arms race in the Middle East to the threat of a nuclear suitcase in the hands of terrorists. He affirmed, in other words, what we in Israel have been warning about for years.

Why, then, the unease? Because Obama wasn’t speaking primarily to Iran but to Israel. Even when he seemed to be warning Tehran, he was really warning Jerusalem. His goal these last days hasn’t been so much to deter them but us. The headlines got it right: Cool down the war talk. Give sanctions—and diplomacy—a chance....

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