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and worst enemies
By STEPHEN J. SNIEGOSKI
Israel now regards Iran as its most dangerous enemy. Writing in the Christian Science Monitor, Nicole Gaouette reports that "Israel is working on a wide range of measures to undermine Iran's nuclear program, with senior leaders hinting that Israel may take preemptive action if that is deemed necessary." And: "The effort reflects the widespread assessment here [in Israel] that Iran poses a greater threat than Iraq has for the past decade and is gaining nuclear expertise more quickly than the U.S. estimates." ["Israel: Iran is now danger No. 1," November 28, 2003]
Israel's perception of Iran as its prime enemy is nothing new. As I wrote in my "September 11 and the origins of the 'War on Terrorism': A revisionist account" (March 2002):
Israel currently views Iran as the neighboring state most likely to develop nuclear weapons, and she has been pushing to have that blocked, using the issue of Iran's alleged support of terrorism as the ostensible justification for a military attack. Hints are even floating about that if the United States doesn't do something, Israel herself will act. The initial move of the U.S. military into Afghanistan saw efforts on Iran's part to improve relations with the United States, but that tentative rapprochement has now been aborted, and for the fundamental cause of that one must look at the influence of Israel and her American supporters.
One crucial point must be clear: a military effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons has nothing to do with an effort to punish the perpetrators of the September 11 atrocities, an operation with which Iran has cooperated extensively.
In February 2002, The Guardian's David Hirst pointed out that "Israel has long portrayed the Islamic republic as its gravest long-term threat, the 'rogue state' at its most menacing, combining sponsorship of international terror, nuclear ambition, ideological objection to the existence of the Jewish state and unflagging determination to sabotage the Middle East peace process." ["Israel thrusts Iran in line of U.S. fire," February 2, 2002]
See also the assessment by Michael Donovan of the Center for Defense Information: "Iran, Israel and Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East" (February 14, 2002).
In January 2002, then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres claimed that "the ayatollah leadership in Iran is also threatening to destroy Israel using these means in other words, inflicting genocide through the use of missiles." And in November 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon publicly called on the international community to target Iran "the day after" Iraq is crushed.
As a matter of fact, Israel has regarded Iran as its most dangerous enemy since the early 1990s. The late Israel Shahak wrote in 1993:
Since the spring of 1992 public opinion in Israel is being prepared for the prospect of a war with Iran, to be fought to bring about Iran's total military and political defeat. In one version, Israel would attack Iran alone, in another it would "persuade" the West to do the job. The indoctrination campaign to this effect is gaining in intensity. It is accompanied by what could be called semi-official horror scenarios purporting to detail what Iran could do to Israel, the West and the entire world when it acquires nuclear weapons as it is expected to a few years hence. A manipulation of public opinion to this effect may well be considered too phantasmagoric to merit any detailed description. Still, the readers should take notice, especially since to all appearances the Israeli Security System does envisage the prospect seriously. In February 1993 minutely detailed anticipations of Iran becoming a major target of Israeli policies became intense.
Note especially Shahak's forecast that Israel might "'persuade' the West" to attack Iran by undertaking a "manipulation of public opinion" that would be "considered too phantasmagoric to merit any detailed description." Observers are now in a better position, unfortunately, to provide a description; and all the ever-shifting war lies we have been fed so far certainly deserve to be considered "phantasmagoric."
Israel's neocon supporters have been pushing for American military intervention in Iran since the latest invasion of Iraq. Those advocating military action against Iran have included the usual suspects Frank Gaffney, Bill Kristol, and ex-CIA head James Woolsey. Arch-neocon Michael Ledeen set up the Center for Democracy in Iran, an action group focusing on producing regime change in Iran. One of his collaborators in the new center is Morris Amitay, the vice chairman of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and a former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Amitay has been referred to as the "godfather" of AIPAC, Israel's ultra-powerful lobby in the United States.
Marc Perelman wrote this spring in the American Jewish newspaper Forward that "a budding coalition of conservative hawks, Jewish organizations and Iranian monarchists is pressing the White House to step up American efforts to bring about regime change in Iran." ["New Front Sets Sights On Toppling Iran Regime," May 16, 2003]
Given the existing public disenchantment with the occupation of Iraq, I don't think the United States could undertake a major attack even a major bombing attack without a significant terrorist incident that could be pinned on Iran.
However, the American and even the European efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, unaccompanied by any mention of Israel's nuclear arsenal, amount to de facto enforcement of Israel's nuclear monopoly in the Middle East, which is a key to Israel's dominance in the region. Arabs and other Muslims can hardly be expected to be happy with such a double standard. Instead, they have advocated a "nuclear-free Middle East," a proposal that has been ignored by both the United States and Israel. The Israeli government does not admit to possessing nuclear weapons, although it imprisoned Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli technician at Dimona, Israel's nuclear-research installation, who revealed Israel's secret production and stockpiling of those weapons. That's a good illustration of how double standards rely on doublethink.
December 3, 2003
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