Following the Six-Day War in 1967, Mordechai (Motta) Gur, the Paratroopers Brigade commander who led the liberation of Jerusalem, was sent to the U.S. for a speaking tour. Before his trip, Gur asked then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol how he should present Israel to Americans. Should he act as a strong and self-confident victor? Or should he rather portray Israel as a country that had barely overcome an existential threat and still needed aid, sympathy and compassion? Eshkol astutely responded in Yiddish, "Present it as Samson, the unfortunate hero."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, set to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday, faces a similar problem to that of Gur. On one hand, Netanyahu could make Churchillian statements to Obama and appear as the sole individual sounding the alarm about an approaching threat to humanity. On the other hand, it can be said that the U.S., spurred on by Israel, led the world to impose heavy sanctions on Iran, the effects of which caused Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to speak of peace.
Ahead of his flight to the U.S., Netanyahu said he would "tell the truth" to the world about Iran's deception. But the truth is splotchy, so it is possible to emphasize the potential horror while also mentioning that the struggle can be won. Both angles are true to the "unfortunate Samson" model.
Netanyahu has no interest in quarreling with Obama, especially since the U.S. has said it understands Israel's concerns about dialogue with Iran. On this, he represents the Israeli consensus.
For his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu will look for wording that demonstrates Israel's determination to prevent Iran from going nuclear but also does not reject in principle the West's effort to achieve that goal without using military force.
Israel has conditions. The first is that there be no easing of sanctions on Iran. The U.S. seemingly agrees with Israel on this. But that is not enough. There is a risk that during negotiations the U.S. and Iran will reach interim agreements, as part of which Iran will somewhat reduce its nuclear activities in exchange for the partial lifting of sanctions. That would be an outline for clear fraud.
If sanctions are lifted, they will not be reimposed. Most European countries (as well countries on other continents) had no interest in them in the first place. This is a wheel that could not be turned for a third time. If the situation is returned to a point of normalcy, it will remain there indefinitely. Therefore, Obama and Netanyahu must not only discuss the goal, but also the method -- all or nothing.
Given the current relationship between Obama and Netanyahu, it will be possible to clarify matters without Netanyahu being forced to reduce his criticism of Rouhani's fraud, or at least his warnings about Iran. Congress is more resolute on Iran than Obama is, but the toughest battlefield for Netanyahu will be the U.S. media, where it has become superficially fashionable to embrace Rouhani.