I totally understand Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mistrust of Iran.
He is bringing that message this week to the United Nations General Assembly and warns the United States not to trust Iran’s new president, who says he wants to make peace with the rest of the world.
President Obama placed a historic phone call last week to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the first president-to-president contact between the nations in 34 years. Obama said a comprehensive agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is possible. I hope he’s right, quite obviously.
Netanyahu isn’t so sure. And why should he trust a thing that comes out of the Iranian president’s mouth?
Rouhani succeeded a man who vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the planet. Indeed, that’s been the stated goal of the Islamic Republic of Iran since its founding in 1979.
I’ve had the pleasure of touring Israel. I spent five weeks there in the spring of 2009 and witnessed up close the proximity between Israel and nations with which it has gone to war several times since Israel’s founding in 1948. The Israelis live in a constant state of heightened vigilance.
Iran doesn’t border Israel, but it is close enough to launch missiles westward and into Israeli cities. That is the concern Israel maintains to this very moment and it is the concern that Netanyahu intends to relay to the world community when he speaks to the U.N. General Assembly.
No, he doesn’t trust Iran’s newfound conciliatory posture. The task at hand is for the world to extract from Iran’s president ironclad assurances that he means what he says.