Israel vs. Iran

Israel vs. Iran

Last Friday’s NY Times ran what I found to be a startling report of a large-scale Israeli military exercise in the Mediterranean and over Greece, apparently with that country’s cooperation, in early June. This was confirmed (among other places) in the Pan Arab Middle East Times. This exercise reportedly included over 100 Israeli fighter-bombers, rescue helicopters and refueling aircraft.

There was also a CBS evening news story under the headline, “Israel Prodding U.S. To Attack Iran.” Michael Oren, the well-known Israeli historian, is now also a CBS news consultant. He indicates:

“The Israelis have been assured by the Bush administration that the Bush administration will not allow Iran to nuclearize,” Oren said. “Israelis are uncertain about what would be the policies of the next administration vis-à-vis Iran.”

Israel’s message is simple: If you don’t, we will. …but military analysts say Israel can not do it alone.

“Keep in mind that Israel does not have strategic bombers,” Oren said. “The Israeli Air Force is not the American Air Force. Israel can not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program.”

Israel is said to be operating under the assumption that Iran can have an operational nuclear weapon by some time next year, while the US military sees such a development as several years off.

All this is scary from a number of angles, and both the prospect of Iran going nuclear and of Israel and/or the United States attacking to prevent this, appear hazardous in the extreme. The new Meretz party chair, Chaim Oron, advised caution in a conference call with Meretz USA: “The Iranian issue is serious and real, and it’s one that Israel needs to face alongside the international community. Israel is part of this community, but it shouldn’t try to handle this alone.”

I often joust in email and online with people who are hostile to Israel. The Iraq war has been unjustly blamed on Israel and the so-called “Israel Lobby.” Sadly, war with Iran would be largely about Israel, but I see this as mostly because of Iran’s religiously-inspired hatred.

The people of Israel have been repeatedly subject to the rantings of President Ahmadinejad about how the Holocaust is a “theory” and that Israel will soon disappear. At the same time, Iran is eager to develop nuclear power and has resisted international inspections that would certify what it claims is not an arms program. Moreover, Iran has long-range missiles that they boast have the capability of hitting Israel.

Israel’s fears are based upon adding two plus two. Iran can easily allay these fears by allowing international inspections and curtailing its hostile rhetoric.

Would I want to see less provocative rhetoric from Israel and the US? Of course. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz’s statement that an attack on Iran is “inevitable” didn’t help. This was posturing by a politician contending for the leadership of his Kadima party and for the job of prime minister (God help us).

But Israel is far more vulnerable than Iran (being so much smaller) and it’s Iran that started this game with its hostility.

I do not believe that Israel should attack Iran (this is not likely to destroy Iran’s nuclear program and it promises untold pain for all), but I don’t blame Israel in the least for feeling threatened. Ahmadinejad’s provocations are as clear as day.

It is argued by apologists for Ahmadinejad that he has been misquoted, that he is musing philosophically about the end of Israel’s current (“Zionist”) form of government. One such speaker of Farsi, whom I’ve dialogued with, quotes Ahmadinejad as saying: “the regime that occupies Jerusalem should be wiped clean from the pages of history.” To me this sounds exactly like advocating Israel’s destruction.

There is a ray of hope and a possible model in the deal just announced with North Korea, which is publicly dismantling facilities and the US, in return, is taking it off the State Department list of terrorist states and pledging its peaceful intent.

Iran, Israel and the US all need to cool their rhetoric. But since it’s Iran that has brought about this crisis, it needs either to go first, or to secretly engage in diplomacy in an effort to step away from the brink.

By | 2008-06-27T01:13:00-04:00 June 27th, 2008|Blog|4 Comments


  1. Christopher June 27, 2008 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    An Israeli Attack on Iran Benefits the Islamic Republic. As Israel contemplates militarily striking Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, Israel empowers the resolve of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s hardliners to achieve greater security while harming United States strategic interests, Israeli security interests, Iranian dissident interests, and world economic interests. Monday’s WSJ Editorial charges that Israel has, “no choice but to defend themselves,” against the Iranian threat.

    Yet even if Iran’s nuclear sites were bombed, virtually nothing could prevent the regime from rebuilding its nuclear sites. Bombing Iran would only further exacerbate and reinforce the belligerence of the fundamentalist regime, alienate pro-America Iranians, radicalize moderate support behind the unpopular regime, provide a pretext for the regime to crack down on human rights, and undermine the democratic movement in Iran.

    A report released by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), considered a major proponent of the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S., “does not advocate military action against Iran’s nuclear program. The time is not right for such a decision.” Instead the report considers an attack on Iran’s oil infrastructure, which accounts for 80% of its export revenue, far more noteworthy.

    On Thursday in the Asia Times, national and international security affairs analyst David Isenberg contends that the political shock from losing oil income would force the regime to rethink its nuclear aspirations. Conversely, he points out that an attack on Iran’s oil infrastructure may force oil prices to skyrocket which would hurt consumers worldwide. News of Israel’s military exercise earlier this month caused the price of U.S. July crude to rise by US$2.69 and settle at US$134.62 a barrel last Friday.

    An attack on Iran’s nuclear sites alone may cause crude oil to reach US$200 a barrel or more. Saturday’s Washington Post article interviewed PFC Energy analyst Mr. J. Robinson West who predicted, “A raid on Iran would convulse the markets. The price would go into uncharted territory. Pick a number.” The Post argues that the staggering cost of oil may dissuade U.S. military action or hamper the administration’s blessing of an Israeli attack.

    An Israeli attack on Iran’s oil exporting infrastructure may lead to protracted war that would undoubtedly affect crude prices. Any temporary closure of the Strait of Hormuz, which ships nearly 40 per cent of the world’s oil, would force oil importing nations to rely upon oil exporting countries to make up for lost output. Inevitably, the regime will retaliate against an Israeli attack and possibly against American interests in the region with powerful long range missiles. A state of mutually assured destruction is more than likely to develop between Israel and Iran due to the spread of technology. Consequently, Israel must reassess its long term security strategy with Iran and view the nature of Iran’s regime as its primary existential threat. Otherwise, only the Islamic republic stands to win.

  2. shelbi June 29, 2008 at 2:48 am - Reply

    I’ll pay $20. per gallon (US) for gasoline before I will see a nuclear strike upon Israel.

  3. Christopher July 2, 2008 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    What makes you think they would strike Israel? They may be fundamentalists but they aren’t suicide bombers nor are Iran’s leaders irrational. Despite their insidious comments towards Israel, the only thing they want more than successful uranium enrichment is the preservation and continuation of their rule. They will do nothing to jeopardize their existence and authority. Iran wants a bid as a regional power. Yet Israel does not want to cede its power due to legitimate security concerns (Hamas and Hezbollah) nor does it want to lose regional power as the lone “undeclared” nuclear power in the region.

    If Iran wants a seat as regional player, it will need to quit alienating the U.S. and Israel with continued bellicose statements that draw attention away from the most important issues. The existential threat of a nuclear armed Iran needs to be retired.

  4. Anonymous July 6, 2008 at 11:28 am - Reply

    why is everyone so consumed over the fact that Ahmadinejad claims that Halocaust did not exist and iranians are fundumentalists? Im a man of science and i look for evidence. Since WWII, the ony countries that went to war were arabs to isreal. us to n-korea, to vietnam, to afganestan and to iraq, iraq to kwait, ussr to afganestan, and of course the genecides in africa and i almost forgot, panama!!!!!!! Im sure there are some that i am missing here. see guys, iran which everyone claims to be ruled by crazy ppl has been in no war were they attacked another country. US that is ruled by sane ppl have been in 4!!!!!! who shlould be put in check here. if you use an evidencebased approach, there is much higher chance that US will attack another country before iran would even start talking…..

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