Israel is entering a very dangerous time, and Washington is not paying enough attention to the situation, according to Jonathan Schanzer, a former counterterrorism analyst for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Treasury.
Although the Obama administration has been working on the economy and health care, the president “has not tackled the biggest problem in international security — the threat from Iran of nuclear weapons,” Schanzer said.
Schanzer spoke to several hundred people attending The Friends of Israel annual prophecy conference at Willow Valley Resort & Conference Center on Monday.
Schanzer currently is the deputy executive director of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington, D.C., editor of In Focus magazine and author of the new book, “Hamas vs Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine.”
Just last week, Schanzer said, it was reported that Iran will be able to put together a crude nuclear weapon by the end of this year.
Ten years ago, Iran said it wanted to test its nuclear weapons — not underground, but on Tel Aviv, he said.
More recently, Schanzer said, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he wanted to “wipe Israel off the map.”
“Israel, of course, has taken note of this,” he said.
Here in the states, Schanzer’s office is watching what our government is doing very carefully, he said.
Because the Bush administration said it would be unacceptable for Iran to gain nuclear weapons, there are efforts under way seeking to sanction Iran through the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, making it illegal for any company or country to refine Iranian petroleum.
“But despite the many, many sponsors in Congress, there’s no support in the (current) White House. We’re struggling to get this bill passed,” Schanzer said.
Polls in Israel had asked whether they believed President Barack Obama was pro-Israel. Only 6 percent said yes and, just last month, that number dropped to 4 percent, he said.
“What we’re watching now is that Israel is increasingly isolated,” Schanzer said.
Therefore, to counteract Iran’s nuclear program, indications are that Israel is planning a daring raid, similar to the raid that occurred in 1981, he said.
But to do that, they would need help from the White House, he said.
And what does Washington want? For Israel to give up building in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
“(Obama) is more concerned about Jewish housing than Iranian bombs,” Schanzer said.
But even if Israel were willing to make these concessions, there is nobody on the Palestinian side able to ratify it, Schanzer said, because the Palestinians have been in a civil war — Hamas versus Fatah — since 2007.