Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy. And we've talked about the last few days...Benjamin Netanyahu's remarkable presentation, and the Israeli Intelligence operation...about the Israeli Intelligence operation which secured all of this information from the Iranians about the extent of their nuclear program, and the depth of their lies about it. And certainly that is important to the consideration about what to do about that unholy deal that the Obama Administration negotiated with the Iranians, that as Ambassador Dermer mentioned, or described, didn't PREVENT a nuclear Iran, it provided a PATH to a nuclear Iran. And I don't know if you're familiar with this organization...I got turned on to it a few years ago, CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, is the name of the organization. And so I've been following it for some time, and it is really is remarkable just how skewed the DC Press Corps is with reporting on the Middle East, particularly as it pertains to Israel. Let me just give you one example, that's recent, the last 24 hours; The total blackout of Palestinian leader...bosses anti-Semitic rants. This week, he blamed the Holocaust, Abbas, and anti-Jewish programs throughout history...on Jews. He insisted in a televised speech that Jews were massacred because they were bankers who charged usury. (Jacobson: What?) I'm not kidding! That's Mahmoud Abbas in a televised speech, and there's barely any reporting on it! In addition to, frankly, the lethargy with which the DC Press Corps has reported on Netanyahu's presentation, the underlying substance of the presentation, all being dismissed and frankly, even the former Obama flaks responsible for it are kind of in conflict with one another, it's either "old information, we already knew that", or somehow it is not compelling enough for us to sort of unwind this deal that the Obama Administration caught with the Iranians. Well, for more on this topic and others, we're pleased and honored again to be joined by Michael Oren, who is a former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, now the Deputy Prime Minister. Michael Oren, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it.
Oren: Hi Dan, hi Amy! Good morning, Chicago!
Proft: Good morning...thanks for joining us, appreciate it. So I guess take those arguments advanced by...opponents of Israel, or those that are proponents of the Iran Nuclear Deal, in whichever order you want, with respect to old information, or nothing that's so compelling that it should make us reconsider the deal that was cut.
Oren: Well those that are proponents of the deal will say that they KNEW Iran was lying, that's why they had to cut the deal and have very intrusive inspections. But, that position raises some serious contradictions. One, if the inspections were so intrusive, how come they didn't discover an archive that's sitting in downtown Tehran in broad daylight? Two, if they knew Iran was lying, and one of the conditions of the nuclear deal was that Iran came clean on its nuclear program, and Iran DIDN'T come clean, and everyone knew that Iran didn't come clean, and everyone knew that Iran was lying, then that makes anyone who signed the agreement party to a lie, now doesn't it? And here are some of the more pressing issues. An Iranian regime that has no intention of making a nuclear bomb in the future does not keep the BLUEPRINTS for a bomb in a warehouse. You keep them in a warehouse because you plan to go BACK to the warehouse and build a bomb! And the people who think that Iran is lying and that's why they had to sign this agreement, and think that Iran is never gonna go back to building the bomb, then why would they put an end to the nuclear agreement? Why is there a sunset clause in this agreement, that says after seven years the agreement ends and Iran can go back to enriching uranium. Why would they do that if they KNEW that Iran is lying about its military nuclear program? Nothing, nothing about it makes sense, Dan! And it makes sense...it lacks sense in a way that is exceedingly dangerous for Israel, the Middle East, and the world.
Jacobson: Well, it's amazing to me how you were able to get all that information, and when Benjamin Netanyahu presented it, it was very powerful, it was very precise, but it seemed like he was focusing on an audience of one, and that was President Trump. So was he effective?
Oren: I think he was effective. You know, I've heard this often, that he has an audience of one...I think he has audiences around the world, I think the Europeans are starting to ask serious questions now, they've all asked Israel to look at this information, it has shaken them up. But I think it was more than...I think President Netanyahu was speaking to the American people. And I don't think the American people enjoy having the wool pulled over their eyes, and to be lied to, okay? I don't think they appreciate that, particularly when the issue here is not just pride, it's national security. And if President Trump decides to either cancel this agreement or change it in very fundamental ways, I think he'll be responding to a groundswell of opinion in HIS country, not just in ours.
Proft: I want to go back to some of what Ambassador Rod Dermer had to say. One of the points he made, and I thought it was a salient one, was it's not just the cash that Iran got upfront in this deal, the unfreezing of accounts, it's also the ability to sell oil on the open market, that's about a $35B a year cash cow for the Iranians. And I wonder what Israelis' (sic) position is with respect to just the nuclear deal and unwinding that, but with respect to sanctions on Iran to try and cut off some of their money supply.
Oren: Well, it's excellent. And what brought it onto the table to begin with was punishing sanctions. They should have been made MORE punishing, and they would have kept Iran at the table until we had a deal that actually responded to the threat, and eliminated the threat. The deal...it was a bonanza for Iran! It gave Iran legitimacy, they could conquer a chunk of the Middle East, they could kill hundreds of thousands of Syrians, and nobody protests! Except for Israel, the United States, and Arab countries. Nobody in the world seemed to mind. And it gave the Iranians MONEY, lots of money, to carry out these conquests, to carry out these massacres...unconscionable. And one of the craziest things, I must tell you, the Iranians are using this money to ETHNICALLY CLEANSE Syria of Sunni Arabs. The money is coming from Europe! And where are the Sunni Arabs going? They're going TO Europe. So the Europeans are funding their own demographic disaster. It's extraord...that's what greed will give ya.
Proft: *sighing exasperatedly*
Oren: But since you asked Dan, I think the Iranian economy is already REELING from the possibility that President Trump might pull out of this agreement, and let's see what happens to that economy if he does.
Proft: Sticking in the region, but on the other side of the isle, the Saudis, the king-to-be of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salam, was in New York recently, meeting with Rabbis as well as Catholic leaders, an interfaith dialogue. Characterize the importance of that meeting and this future king of Saudi Arabia, how does he play into stability in the region, are we really seeing a watershed moment in the history of Saudi Arabia with his ascension?
Oren: Well, I can't comment on the meeting per se, but like I say, I can say this; that, well, President Obama sought to bring Jews and Arabs closer together through peace. He succeeded in bringing us closer together, but not through peace, brought together by common concern over his policies, particularly over Iran. And today there is a greater meeting of the minds between Israel and the nations of the Guv...of the Gulf region, Tikrit, Saudi Arabia. We agree ON Iran, we agree on Syria, we agree on Assad and the Islamic Brotherhood and ISIS, we agree on pretty much everything. And the Saudis, at least implicitly if not publicly yet have come to see us as not an enemy country, but an ally and an ally that is vital not just for their security, but the security of the entire region.
Proft: There's been reported strikes...and I don't know that you can confirm or deny this...but reported Israeli strikes on Iranian bases in Syria in the last few weeks. And it's fueled speculation on whether or not this could precipitate a regional war, or whether it can be contained in Syria. How would you characterize the Syrian problem, and the Iranian influence in Syria?
Oren: Well, we certainly don't want a war. We're going to do whatever is necessary to DEFEND ourselves. The bottom line about Syria is that Iran is determined to transform Syria into a militarized front against us, to establish military bases, ports, airfields in Syria, and Israel has drawn red lines. And they are VERY red. We will stop them. They try to build a port, try to build a base, try to introduce advanced precision missiles into Syria, we're going to have to stop them. Iran...the end of the day it's going to be Iran's choice, but this country will do whatever is necessary to defend ourselves.
Jacobson: What's the timeline for President Trump to make a decision?
Oren: His timeline is May 12th. He announced on May 12th he would make a decision about the Iran deal. He said he will either nix it, rescind it, or fix it. Now, our preference is to have it fixed, but the fixtures have to be very substantive and specific. We need to have punishing sanctions on Iran's missile program, we need to have unlimited and unfettered inspections of the Iranian military sites, and the most important thing, Dan and Amy, is we have to remove those sunset clauses, that says that after seven years, these restrictions on Iran Nuclear program get removed and Iran can go back to enriching uranium. THAT...that is our essential, and I think we have a very close meeting of the minds on these points with the Administration.
Proft: He is former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, now Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Michael Oren, thank you so much for joining us, appreciate your insights.
Oren: Have a VERY good day, thank you!
Jacobson: Thank you! And he joined us on our Turnkey Dot Pro Answer Line.