Is now “go time” for a preemptive strike on Iran, or should Israel wait? Here’s my interview on Fox News.

Interview on Iran deal with Fox News anchor Leland Vitter. (August 23, 2015)

Interview on Iran deal with Fox News anchor Leland Vitter. (August 23, 2015)

>> FACT SHEET: Why is the Iran nuclear deal so dangerous?

(Tel Aviv, Israel) — On Sunday, I was interviewed on the Fox News Channel program, “America’s News HQ,” about the Israeli reaction to the Iran nuclear deal, the possibility of Israeli preemptive strikes on Iran, and whether Congress will move to stop this dangerous Iran deal.

To watch a video of the segment, please click here. (it lasts 5 minutes and 27 seconds).

Here is a transcript of the interview with Fox anchor Leland Vitter:

FOX ANCHOR LELAND VITTER: No one has been a more vocal and consistent critic of the nuclear deal with Iran than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He says the deal is a road map for an Iranian nuclear weapon, and he has made no secret of his displeasure with the Obama administration over it. Israeli officials are also lobbying Members of Congress to vote against it.

Joel Rosenberg, author and former aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu, joins us now from Tel Aviv. Mr. Rosenberg, I appreciate you being with us. Good Saturday evening to you.

One thing that has broken over the past couple of days is a report out of Israel that Ehud Barak, the former Defense Minister, told his biographer, among others, that Prime Minister Netanyahu on three separate occasions wanted to attack Iran and did not. Is this really as big as a deal as it seems on paper, and what is the reaction in Israel to this news?

JOEL C. ROSENBERG: Well, it’s very interesting, Leland, because you’ve got a situation in which a former Israeli Defense Minister, in my view, shouldn’t have been talking about this at all, to his biographer now, or later. I mean, this is a very, very sensitive issue. But by Barak’s own admission, he was supportive of these attacks, but the Cabinet didn’t feel that the time was right. What this shows is how serious both Netanyahu and Barak and most of the Cabinet — but not all — believe this issue is.

Remember, we’re dealing in Iran not with a moderate regime that is trying to find its way into the international community. We’re dealing with an apocalyptic, genocidal death cult. This is a group of leaders led by Ayatollah Khamenei who believe the End of Days has come, and that their messiah — the “Mahdi” or the “Twelfth Imam” — is coming to reign over the world at any moment, and that they need nuclear weapons to destroy not just one country, Israel, which they call “the Little Satan,” but also the United States, which they call “the Great Satan.” So the threat to Israel and the United States is enormous.

VITTER: I get that the threat is there. There is no argument there. But the issue of whether or not Israel would launch unilateral military action has been one that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been incredibly coy about over and over and over again, and it’s been one card that he’s used to press the Obama administration hard in terms of trying to have some kind of leverage on Capitol Hill. And what I’m wondering is that now that this news is out that three times he has said “let’s go” and his Cabinet said “no” and there wasn’t an attack, doesn’t that all of a sudden really weaken the Israelis’ position internationally and make the threat of unilateral military action irrelevant?

ROSENBERG: No, I think quite the contrary — what it shows is intent. What you’ve got is a very difficult situation, right? But for the Prime Minister and much of his Cabinet, the question was, “Can we build up more capacity to strike Iran when the time is right?” It’s capacity, and timing. Part of the timing issue, Leland, was asking, “Would the United States, under President Obama, keep its word in which they said the goal of the negotiations was to “end” — not legalize and extend, but end — Iran’s nuclear program?” So you wanted to wait to see, okay, maybe the President will, you know, keep his word on this. That has not been the case. And now, eight-in-ten Israelis believe this deal threatens the very security not only of Israel but obviously of our ally, the United States. More than half of Israelis believe that the Prime Minister should be doing everything possible to neutralize the threat. And almost half of Israelis are ready for a war, if needed. That’s how serious this is.

VITTER: That’s what I wanted to talk to you a little bit about. There is an old joke, at least when I lived in Israel: “If you want four opinions, ask two Israelis.” The question being going forward, it seems, is that every Israeli I talk to is pretty universal in their opinion that this is a bad deal and this makes Iran a much greater threat to Israel. What they’re not necessarily all in lock-step about is whether or not Israel should take unilateral military action. What I’m wondering is, when you’re on the street there, do people seem coalesced around the idea that they should see how things play out a little while longer, or is now “go time”?

ROSENBERG: Well, the only person who can decide if it’s go time — or the only people who can decide — is the Cabinet because they have the intelligence right in front of them to show them do they have to go, is there no other option, or are there other ways to slow down or neutralize the threat? Nobody here wants to go to war if it’s not necessary. But everyone is ready to go to war if it is necessary. One of the questions now is, “Could Israel hold on until the next election in the United States to see if a President who is more sympathetic to its most favored and faithful ally in the Middle East, Israel — as well as our Arab allies — will have a change of policy from President Obama. And look, you also have Democrats emerging right now — Senator Menendez, Senator Schumer — who are putting national security ahead of their own political fortunes. So I don’t think this is the moment to strike. It’s the moment to try to get Congress to go against the deal.

VITTER: Well, there is obviously a lot of lobbying going on on Capitol Hill, and, as you pointed out, Israel and the Iran deal is a big issue in the 2016 elections. We’ll see how it all plays out. I appreciate your insights, Joel Rosenberg, from Tel Aviv.

ROSENBERG: My pleasure.

VITTER: All the best.

BACKGROUND MATERIAL:

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