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February 13, 2012

Three nagging questions on Israel and Iran

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/three_nagging_questions_on_israel_and_iran_20120213/

Photo

Benjamin Netanyahu addressing the AIPAC conference, May 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

1. Both the US and Israel are getting closer to Election Day. While it is noble to expect all involved leaders to put political considerations aside as they discuss Iran, it might be unrealistic to expect politicians to put political considerations aside at any given time. But my question here isn’t about the leaders – it is about the voters. What happens if Obama faces American voters in November while Iran is already beyond “the point of no return”? What happens if Netanyahu faces Israeli voters around the same date having decided against military action? In other words: Do voters have enough information to factor this issue in when they go to the ballots?

2. Imagine that you’re Netanyahu’s speechwriter, and that you have to write a speech for the Prime Minister for the upcoming AIPAC conference in Washington. That is the same forum in which Netanyahu said very little about Iran last year, but that’s because he saved the more detailed message to Congress: “The more Iran believes that all options are on the table, the less the chance of confrontation. And this is why I ask you to continue to send an unequivocal message that America will never permit Iran to develop nuclear weapons”. Netanyahu just told his ministers to stop the “chit chat” about Iran, but he still has to talk about Iran and craft a message that conveys urgency but also calm, that conveys determination but is not apologetic. Two questions: Does Netanyahu have to up the ante and say something even more dramatic this time? Is there any drama left that he hasn’t yet used in previous speeches?

3. How is the media going to attract readers and traffic to its websites when the Iran crisis is over? I know, the “will-Iran-be-attacked?” renaissance can probably keep us all alive for quite a while. A case in point: A Newsweek team has just written another very long piece discussing this very question, and this comes just a week or so after the long NYT Magazine piece on the same topic. But someday we will reach a time in which A. readers realize that there’s no good answer to this question, B. they will get bored with it, or C. the question will no longer be relevant. Can you imagine the magazine world surviving without it?

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