The Israeli government insists that a nuclear Iran is an "existential threat" and that, accordingly, it will decide for itself how to handle it.
And yet, the same Israeli government that is determined to alert the world to the dangers it believes are posed by Iran is equally determined to preserve an occupation that would spell the end of Israel's existence as a democratic Jewish state.
One can argue about whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons or would use them against Israel, knowing that doing so would be suicidal. The experts are divided on those questions.
But there is no way to argue that a democratic State of Israel can survive once it has a decisive Palestinian majority, an eventuality that is just a few years away if Israel maintains its control over the occupied territories.
Once a Palestinian majority is permanently in place, Israel would be faced with two, and only two, alternatives. It could grant the occupied Palestinians the ballot, affording them the opportunity to vote the Jewish state out of existence.
Or more likely, Israel would deny Palestinians the vote, becoming like apartheid South Africa, a state where the minority rules. Such a state would not even be able to maintain a relationship with the United States, let alone the rest of the world.
There is no third alternative. That was demonstrated this week when some leading right-wing Israelis announced that they had found one. Their alternative is that the Palestinians would be made citizens of Jordan, allowing Israel to keep the occupied land but not the people.
That idea is preposterous, of course. The position of Jordan is precarious enough without adding a few million more non-Jordanians to the population mix. Nor would the Palestinians ever accept Jordanian nationality as a substitute for their Palestinian identity. They want their state in Palestine, not Jordan. Jews should understand that. After all, their dream of Eretz Yisrael was never about Amman either.
The only reason to mention this third alternative is to demonstrate that there are really only two. That is, if Israel maintains the occupation. Both entail the end of the Zionist enterprise.
Not surprisingly, a growing number of Palestinians are coming around to the position long held by the Israeli right: allowing the occupation to go on indefinitely.
And that makes sense for anyone who wants to see the 1947 partition of Palestine rolled back. Rather than "Two States for Two Peoples" (the slogan of those like Tzipi Livni and Mahmoud Abbas), their slogan could be "One State for One People (Not the Jews)."
The Obama administration understands that the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict harms not only U.S. interests in the region but, even more, Israel's prospects for survival. That is why the Obama administration has made it clear that it wants to stop the settlements now.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could not have been more emphatic in a statement she made this week that was airtight in its opposition to settlements. She said that the United States "wants to see a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions." The administration's position on settlements has been endorsed by key pro-Israel legislators like Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry, Senator Carl Levin, House Foreign Affairs Chair Howard Berman, and the longest serving Jewish member of Congress, Henry Waxman.
But Defense Minister Ehud Barak argues that nobody could seriously believe that a "natural growth" exception threatens peace.
And he's right. No one believes that adding a bedroom in Ariel because twins are soon to arrive ("natural growth") endangers the peace process.
But, unlike its predecessors, this administration understands that the "natural growth" excuse is just that. Whenever the United States asks Israeli governments to do anything to advance peace with the Palestinians, it comes up with excuses as to why it can't.
Even when the Bush administration (which Israelis consider the friendliest ever) finally got Israel to accept its Roadmap, Israel added fourteen unilateral reservations. And then, when it failed to implement any part of the Roadmap, it pointed to its own reservations as justification. Of course, accepting an agreement with unilateral reservations is not acceptance at all but rather rejection. ("I accept your offer of $750,000 for my house but at $1.2 million.")
In the past, the United States has accepted that approach.