George Birnbaum, the former chief of staff of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaks to local residents who attended Tuesday’s Gwinnett Tea Party meeting. Birnbaum discussed the recent nuclear arms deal reached with Iran.
SUWANEE — America’s new nuclear arms deal with Iran is “a bad deal for the world,” and a threat to western civilization, the former chief of staff for the Israeli prime minister told the Gwinnett Tea Party on Tuesday.
George Birnbaum, an international political consultant who was Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff in the late 1990s, said American leaders have greatly misjudged the situation, putting Israel and the rest of the world in danger with the tentative deal struck with Iran days ago.
“This misunderstanding of how to use American leadership (to broker peace) has greatly endangered the world,” he said. “Israel is America’s canary in the coalmine. I’m very, very fearful of the ramifications.”
Birnbaum compared Jimmy Carter’s weakened position in the Iran hostage situation to President Barack Obama’s 2009 speech in Egypt, giving the Arab world a signal that he would not use force.
“The Arab world saw a weak leader. The moment he apologized, they saw someone they could take advantage of,” Birnbaum said. “For the first time in my life, our friends don’t respect us and our enemies don’t fear us.”
The Atlanta native recounted some tales of his time on Netanyahu’s staff, when the prime minister stepped in to stop the sale of technology from the Chinese to Iran and about how the prime minister had to negotiate with Palestinian leaders, sometimes quickly threatening force to bring peace.
He repeated the words he heard from an Israeli official earlier in the day: “Look at the people who are negotiating the deal. They have probably never negotiated buying a car in their lives, and now they are negotiating world peace.”
With Israel allied with Saudi Arabia, usually an enemy, Birnbaum said the options for the country are terrible and could lead to a tremendous loss of life. And the threat isn’t just centered in the Middle East.
“I would have thought that 9/11 would have been a powerful enough lesson,” about the dangers of fundamentalist Islam, Birnbaum said.
David Hancock of the Gwinnett Tea Party said his group doesn’t often focus on international issues but was pleased that Birnbaum’s visit was so timely to provide a perspective on the arms deal.
“Our national interests are so tied up in (this discussion),” he said. “We need to be aware of what’s going on.”