Netanyahu lonely in his anti-Iran campaign

Netanyahu lonely in his anti-Iran campaign
Sat Oct 12, 2013 15:08:43

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears desperate in his lonely campaign to urge the world against engaging in new negotiations with Iran to resolve any outstanding concerns regarding its nuclear energy program.

In a Friday Article, major US daily The New York Times echoes Netanyahu lonely crusade to discourage renewed international engagement with Iran on the hills of next week’s commencement of fresh talks in Geneva between negotiators from six leading world powers and the Islamic Republic.

“As six major world powers convene next week to negotiate on the nuclear issue with Iran’s new leadership, the Israeli leader risks seeming frozen in the past amid a shifting geopolitical landscape,” the article states, dismissing as “shrill” Netanyahu’s recent media publicity drive “to focus the world on the Iranian nuclear program, using ancient texts, Holocaust history and a 2011 book by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.”

With a series of major speeches — three more are scheduled next week — and “an energetic media blitz,” the paper says, the 63-year-old Netanyahu has embarked on the public-diplomacy campaign of his career, trying to prevent what he worries will be “a bad deal” with Iran.

Insisting on a complete halt to uranium enrichment and no easing of the economic sanctions he helped galvanize the world to impose on Iran, “Netanyahu appears out of step with a growing Western consensus toward reaching a diplomatic deal that would require compromise,” the daily emphasizes.

But such isolation is hardly new to a man “with few personal friends and little faith in allies, who shuns guests for Sabbath meals, who never misses a chance to declare Israel’s intention to defend itself, by itself.”

“Netanyahu is most comfortable predicting disaster, scaring people into doing something,” the US-based daily further adds, quoting Mitchell Barak, a Jerusalem political consultant who worked for him in the early 1990s and has watched him closely since.

“The problem is now he’s lost momentum. His message is clear, his message is the same, the situation is the same, but everyone else’s perspective has changed. It’s like you’re the only one in a dark room with a flashlight,” Barak insists.

Since his address to the United Nations General Assembly, the article adds, “He has hardly stopped selling his message: nine broadcast interviews in New York last week instead of the usual two or three (including radio, a first abroad since 2009, added at his request), and on Thursday, a television trifecta and rare trio of newspaper audiences targeting Britain, Germany and France.”

If he seems “a solo act on the world stage,” its notes, “Netanyahu is also increasingly a one-man show in Israel, doubling as his own foreign minister.”

Gone from his cabinet, according to the paper, are several colleagues with security credentials whom he considered peers. His closest adviser, Ron Dermer, has left Israel to become its ambassador in Washington; he has lost his longtime cabinet secretary; and the veteran national security adviser departs soon.

His office wall is dominated by a map, Iran looming large at the center. Iran has been Netanyahu’s priority — many say obsession — since 1996, when he warned of the nuclear threat in a speech to Congress shortly after becoming prime minister for the first time.

During the next three years he revamped the Israeli regime’s intelligence agenda to focus on Tehran. As the leader of the regime’s opposition from 2006 to 2009, he made it “a personal mission to persuade American state pension funds to divest of Iranian holdings. And since returning to Israel’s premiership in 2009, he has led the charge for sanctions against Iran, in part by threatening a unilateral military strike.”

Citing Netanyahu’s Critics and admirers, the Times describes the Zionist leader’s persisting anti-Iran campaign as “a Messianic crusade,” adding that although the much disliked man -- within Israel and abroad -- is not religious, “he does see himself as a leader of destiny.”


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