IT IS one thing to be deprived of a little surgical strike. But quite another matter to be robbed of a real big operation.
A recent Israeli cartoon showed the President of Iran sitting before the television screen eating his popcorn and watching with relish how Obama is being beaten in Syria.
How can Obama pressure Iran, Israeli commentators and politicians ask, if he has given up on pressuring Syria? After he has let Assad cross the thin red line unpunished, how will he prevent the Iranians from crossing the much thicker red line he has drawn there?
Where is American deterrence? Where is the awe inspired by the mighty world power? Why would the ayatollahs abstain from building their nuclear bomb after the American president has fallen into the primitive trap laid by the Russians, as Israelis see it?
TO BE honest, I cannot restrain a touch of schadenfreude at the plight of our commentators.
When I stated categorically that there would be no American military strike against Iran, and no Israeli one either, some of my acquaintances thought that I had gone off of my rocker.
No war? After Netanyahu had promised one? After Obama has followed suit?
There must be a war!
But lo and behold, the war is receding into the distance.
In Israeli eyes, Iran is ruled by a crazy gang of religious fanatics, whose main aim in life is to annihilate Israel. They are hell bent on producing The Bomb, which will enable them to do so. They don't care that the Israeli second strike is assured, and Iran will be destroyed for ever. That's the kind of people they are. So the production of the bomb must be prevented at all costs. Including the collapse of the world economy, as a result of the closure of the Strait of Hormuz.
That is a clear picture, consistent in every detail. Fortunately for us, it has no connection with reality.
RECENT EVENTS have painted a different picture altogether.
It started with the elections in Iran. The slightly deranged Ahmadinejad, the pathological holocaust denier, has disappeared. Instead, a modest-looking moderate, Hassan Rouhani, was elected.
Such a choice would have been impossible without the approval of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. He has to approve all candidates. It is obvious that Rouhani was his personal choice.
What does that mean? To Israeli commentators, it is quite clear: the sly, devious Persians are cheating the whole world again. They will continue, of course, to build their bomb. But the naÃ¯ve Americans will believe their lies, precious time will be lost, and one day the Iranians will say: Now we have got the bomb! From now on, we can do what we want! Especially, destroy the Zionist Entity!
All this is built on complete fantasy. The Iranians are far removed from being a primitive, self-destructive people. They are very conscious of being the heirs of a glorious civilization, at least as ancient and as rich as the Jewish past. The idea of exchanging queens -- we destroy you, you destroy us -- is ridiculous, especially since chess is a Persian game. (the very word "Chess" is believed to derive from the Persian Shah, king.)