ZOA Critical of Obama Canceling U.S./Israel Anti-Iran Defense Exercise

Netanyahu: Iran Sanctions "Ineffective" - Fmr. IDF Chief Yaalon: Obama "Disappoints" on Iran

 NEW YORK,  January 16, 2012 -- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized President Barack Obama following reports citing Israeli defense officials saying that the Obama Administration has postponed a massive joint defense exercise because it wants to avoid causing further tensions with Iran. Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which a vast quantity of the world’s oil supply passes. 


According to an Israeli defense official, Washington wants to avoid causing further tensions in the region, especially in the wake of reports that the U.S. and Israel are preparing to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. The drill, codenamed Austere Challenge 12, was supposed to simulate the missiles fired by Iran or other antagonistic states toward Israel. Both Israeli and U.S. officials said the exercise would be the largest-ever joint drill by the two countries, involving thousands of U.S. soldiers. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF)  has said that the postponement of the drill is “is not in response to any real-world event” while the Israel Defense Ministry has noted that the drill was not canceled due to budget considerations (‘Israel and U.S. postpone massive defense drill in fear of escalation with Iran,’ Haaretz, January 15, 2012).


In recent days, President Obama has also reportedly “demanded explanations” from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the recent killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist, Professor Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. The attack, which follows a pattern of killings targeting key figures in Iran’s nuclear program in recent years, has been attributed to both Israel’s Mossad and the People’s Mujahedeen by various sources, which both have denied. According to Israel’s Channel 2 television news, President Obama demanded explanations from Prime Minister Netanyahu following reports of the Roshan killing (Gil Ronen, ‘Report: Obama Told Bibi to Explain Iran Hit,’ Israel National News, January 12, 2012). 


Additionally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized Western sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program were ineffective, saying, “The sanctions employed thus far are ineffective, they have no impact on the nuclear program. We need tough sanctions against the central bank and oil industry. These things are not happening yet and that is why it has no effect on the nuclear program” (Moran Azulay, ‘Netanyahu: Iran sanctions ineffective,’ Yediot Ahronot, January 16, 2012). 


Also, Israeli Vice-Prime Minister, Moshe Yaalon, the former IDF Chief-of-Staff, has blamed “election-year considerations” for President Obama’s failure to impose stronger sanctions and a generally more muscular approach to Iran for fear of economic repercussions that would harm his re-election prospects, saying, “In the United States, the Senate passed a resolution, by a majority of 100-to-none, to impose these sanctions, and in the US administration there is hesitation for fear of oil prices rising this year, out of election-year considerations ... In that regard, this is certainly a disappointment, for now.” (Herb Keinon, ‘Ya’alon: Elections handcuffing Washington on Iran,’ Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2012). 


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are concerned about the postponement of the U.S./Israeli joint military exercise. President Obama has often touted strong U.S./Israeli defense ties as proof of his Administration’s strong support for Israel. If that is so, why is a vital joint military exercise dealing with the Iranian threat postponed while no efforts other than weak sanctions pursued to stop Iran?


“We are also concerned by reports that President Barack Obama has demanded an explanation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the recent killing of the Iranian nuclear scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan. Neither Israel nor any other party has confirmed its involvement in the Roshan killing. Even the Iranian government has not internationally claimed that Israel carried out the killing.


“Israel faces an existential threat from a nuclear-armed Iran run by its present Islamist regime. So for that matter does the U.S.  The shadow of nuclear blackmail would hang over us once Iran gets such weapons and even more so if it passes them to terrorists.  Even if neither uses them, what unending series of concessions and retreats would America have to undertake to ensure that this continues? 


“It is only right that all efforts be made to prevent Iran becoming a nuclear power and, indeed, when campaigning for the presidency, Barack Obama repeatedly said that he would do ‘everything, everything’ to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons.   Unfortunately, President Obama has done little - he even prevented a Congressional vote on Iran sanctions for over a year. Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Vice-Prime Minister Yaalon have spoken of the ineffectiveness of the sanctions regime.


“A military strike upon Iranian nuclear facilities, should other efforts to stop Iran becoming a nuclear power fail, is a last resort. Surely, then, if Israel did eliminate the Iranian nuclear scientist, President Obama should be privately congratulating Israel, not demanding explanations or canceling joint military exercises which place pressure on Tehran to stop its nuclear program. It would seem President Obama thinks preparing for a crisis of Iran’s making renders the West guilty of raising tensions. The tension, of course, would not exist if Iran was not pursuing a program to produce nuclear weapons and speaking about destroying Israel.”

About the ZOA

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses. Under the leadership of such presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbis Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise, and current President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been - and continues to be - on the front lines of Jewish activism. The ZOA is a 501(c) (3) non-partisan organization.www.zoa.org