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EAST HAMPTON, NY—For the first time since its founding in 1948, Israel is now the most dangerous place in the world for Jews. That is the assessment of Mort Zuckerman—editor in chief of U.S. News&World Report, publisher of the New York Daily News, and past chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
Israel is in a “terrible dilemma,” Zuckerman said in an interview with JNS.org, because unlike the United States, it is a small country that can be destroyed by just one or two nuclear bombs and therefore does not have “the luxury” of waiting to act.
Moreover, Israel “does not want to be blamed for the outcome of the American election,” Zuckerman said. Finally, the media mogul noted how Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has pointed out that Israel does not have the “super bunker busters” and the large aircraft it would need to carry those bunker busters that are critical for the Jewish state to succeed were it to act on its own.
Speaking of an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program, it was Dempsey himself who recently grabbed headlines by saying he does not wish to be “complicit” in such a strike if Israel chooses to take that route.
Addressing a standing-room only audience at The Jewish Center of the Hamptons on Sept. 2, Zuckerman said the “siege” around Israel “is getting tighter every day.” He illustrated this by pointing out that “as a result of the democratic election of a tyrant (in Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi), Egypt has turned into a major opponent of Israel instead of being a major ally,” that relations with Turkey have soured, and that Israel’s border with Bashar al-Assad’s Syria can no longer be considered to be “quiet.” On top of that, Israel faces an existential threat from a soon-to-be nuclear Iran, he said.
The question Zuckerman asked was “How do we get from now to a more peaceful future?” He said the answer lies with the U.S., for “if Iran knew that the U. S. would retaliate in a major way” against an attack on Israel, the situation might change. He feels, however, that President Barack Obama’s promises cannot be trusted because he has walked away from his campaign commitments in support of an “undivided” Jerusalem (Zuckerman said this even before the controversial omission and then restoration of language affirming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in the 2012 Democratic Party Platform), Israel’s secured, recognized and defensible borders, and other assurances that the U.S. has “Israel’s back.”
According to reports in the New York Times, the White House is considering formulating a new negotiating strategy “around clear ‘red lines’ for Iran, beyond which the United States would not allow” Iran to go. Even if this were to happen, Zuckerman told JNS.org that as a result of its policies that failed to support the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia—leaders who were longtime American allies—the U.S. has lost much of its credibility in the Middle East.
There was also a recent report in Yedioth Ahrnonot that Washington told Tehran “it will not join in an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program” if Iran does not “draw [the U.S.] into a conflict by firing on American army bases and aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.” When asked about that report, Zuckerman told JNS.org “if the report is indeed true, it is a serious indication of the kind of support to be expected from the Obama administration.”
In response to a question from the audience in the Hamptons concerning the effect of the current stalemate in Israel’s peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Zuckerman said a settlement with the Palestinians “would definitely change the political realities on the ground and it is, of course, in Israel’s self-interest to solve the problems with the Palestinians.”