With all these nearby threats, you would expect Israel would be able to count on her friends to be fully versed on the situation and be ready to protect her, right?
Chodoff has been researching terrorism for over 30 years. He grew up in New York, but this die hard Yankees fan eventually moved halfway across the globe to Galilee. He crossed paths with the Israel Collective, a group of young Christian peacemakers, on our journey through the Holy Land.
As we drove through the northern border toward Syria, Chodoff shared with us just a glimpse of current Middle East affairs. Actually, he began by declaring there was no Middle East. The four major players in the region, he explained, include Egypt, Turkey, Russia and Iran. While Egypt has been friendly to Israel for political reasons, Chodoff believes he knows why the leaders of the other countries are behaving so aggressively: power.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is a “chess player,” Chodoff said. Each of his moves is made with a strategic lens. That’s why Chodoff can say with confidence why Putin entered Crimea.
“Russia is No. 2, it wants to be No. 1,” he stated.
Putin wants access to Crimea’s warm water ports and to build a land bridge between Russia and Ukraine, Chodoff explained.
These facts don't mesh with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's representation of Russian aggression. Two years ago, Kerry reacted to Russia’s invading Crimea by insisting “you just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion.”
Chodoff had news for him:
“Someone should tell Mr. Kerry that the 21st century is looking a lot like 19th.”
As compelling as Chodoff’s comments were about Russia, I was most struck with his analysis of Iran. Iran, Chodoff said, is most responsible for the mess in the Middle East.
“I like honest murderers,” Chodoff said about the Iranian leadership, who has declared “Death to America” on more than one occasion. “What do you think that means?” he asked.
It’s not a trick question.
With this context in mind, I asked Chodoff to chime in on the Iran nuclear deal the White House signed a few months ago.
It’s “disastrous,” he said.
Why not just enforce the treaty and keep the sanctions? he wondered. Not only did we succumb to pressure, but we backed down on any kind of strong response to the Iranian capture of our U.S. soldiers. (More on Chodoff's analysis of the Iran Deal to come in a later piece.)
Chodoff's expert perspective on Middle East affairs confirm that this White House has dangerously underestimated the Iranian regime and other dangerous powers. After spending some time in Israel and speaking with her citizens, I believe more than ever that Israel needs her friends. As Chodoff said in his closing remarks:
“Sanctity of life is not a universal value.”