JERUSALEM --- Conservatives the world over are getting nervous as November 4th draws nigh.
A last-ditch attempt by the Israeli hawks to trash Barack Obama has appeared in the respected daily Haaretz, which has been noticeably tilting right in the past few months. An anonymously sourced news item echoed the latest volley of television ads by John McCain, faulting Obama for his diplomatic stance toward Iran. Between the lines, lurked the unspoken caveat: Barack your world and we Israelis get nuked.
Citing alleged insider knowledge of talks conducted between Obama and French President Sarkozy, Haaretz's front page story berated the U.S. Democratic candidate as "utterly immature":
Sarkozy has made his criticisms only in closed forums in France. But according to a senior Israeli government source, the reports reaching Israel indicate that Sarkozy views the Democratic candidate's stance on Iran as 'utterly immature' and comprised of 'formulations empty of all content.'
Obama visited Paris in July, and the Iranian issue was at the heart of his meeting with Sarkozy. At a joint press conference afterward, Obama urged Iran to accept the West's proposal on its nuclear program, saying that Iran was creating a serious situation that endangered both Israel and the West. According to the reports reaching Israel, Sarkozy told Obama at that meeting that if the new American president elected in November changed his country's policy toward Iran, that would be 'very problematic.'
Putting these words into the mouth of the French President, who like most Gallic statesmen ranks diplomacy as a French art as elevated as its cuisine, perhaps was intended as punishment for Obama's 'presumptious foreign tour' this summer when he advocated negotiating with America's adversaries. But the Haaretz strategy backfired rather quickly. A crisp diplomatic communiqué from the French embassy in Washington flung the cold freedom fries back in the face of the nameless rumor-mongers:
The remarks attributed by the newspaper Haaretz to the President of the French Republic concerning Senator Obama's positions on Iran are groundless. To the contrary, the in-depth discussions between the President of the Republic and Senator Obama on Iran during their meeting in Paris in July demonstrated a broad convergence of views on this issue. President Sarkozy and Senator Obama agree to oppose Iran's development of a military nuclear capability.
Furthermore, Sarkozy has said that France ought to worry more about tensions between Iran and Israel than between Iran and the United States, and has urged neighbors to ramp up sanctions against Tehran.
One can only conclude that Israeli hawks view a McCain administration as an extension of the sweet deal they had under George W Bush. For the past eight years, the US offered scant criticism of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and very little pressure to adhere to a 'roadmap' or even the gentle Annapolis nudge towards conflict resolution. The nags of Condoleezza Rice during her more than 20 diplomatic shuttles to the Holy Land resulted in very little substantial action. Israeli expansion was emboldened, and even the lame duck Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has despaired belatedly that he allowed too many "facts on the ground" to go unchecked. Now it appears that under Barack Obama, the Israeli right may fear that "No, we can't."