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FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: Iran and the Bomb 2: A New Hope

Why Israel Is So Afraid

Iran, the United States, and the Bomb

Israelis look on as Israeli air force jets fly in formation over the Mediterranean Sea during celebrations for Israel's Independence Day, April 26, 2012. Nir Elias / Courtesy Reuters

The Obama administration is hoping that its recent deal with Iran will make the Middle East more stable. But the opposite outcome is at least as likely. For Israel in particular, the deal is a bad omen -- not because of what it says about the prospect of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons but because of what many fear it says about the United States’ commitment to Israeli security. In addition to believing that the agreement itself is no good, Israelis suspect that the United States’ pursuit of it signals the end of deep U.S. involvement in the region, upon which Israel has long relied to overcome isolation. Without the American safety net, Israel could now defy U.S. expectations and attempt to deal with emergent threats preemptively, disproportionately, and entirely unilaterally.

By some estimates, Israel has never been safer. The peace treaty with Egypt, the cornerstone of Israel’s

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