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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Israel is at risk

A reasonable evaluation from a neutral source.

Israel still at risk

The ongoing furor in Iran over the disputed presidential election might appear to be a harbinger of imminent positive change in the tense and gloomy Middle East, but appearances are misleading. No matter how the conflict between incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi is resolved, Iran will remain a theocracy in which ultimate power rests with a small group of secretive clerics.

This means that Iran will continue its provocative behaviour and dangerous ploys. Nuclear weapons research, materialsupport for terrorist organizations and a long-standing propensity for vicious anti-Israel and anti-Western rhetoric will roll on, undiminished, as they always have even when Iran's president was the reformist Muhammad Khatami.

The threat is very grave. Iran's ruling ayatollahs are perilously close to acquiring the nuclear weapons they have long coveted so Israel and its allies in North America and Europe will need to remain vigilant and prepared for potential conflict.

This will not be easy. Although the Iranian drama is presently captivating the world, attention will inevitably refocus on Israel. When it does, outside observers-- many with anti-Israel agendas --will continue urging Israel to make concessions, give up land and talk to its foes without preconditions. The same pressure will be renewed through the Jewish state's closest allies.

Bogging Israel down in fruitless discussions is exactly what the ayatollahs want. They have long backed Israel's most proximate enemies, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and would like few things better than seeing their mortal enemy entangled by diplomatic red tape. Never mind that there is no one to talk to since Hamas won't renounced its goal of destroying Israel, while Fatah in the West Bank is corrupt and widely disliked by Palestinians.

However, manipulating the Israeli-Palestinian situation is only one of the ayatollahs'tools for deflecting the world's gaze from their attempt to develop weapons of mass destruction and place Iran in an unassailable position. The ayatollahs are masters of deception, using state machinery to manufacture opinions about their regime. They permit a facade of democracy with slates of reform candidates, carefully managed free speech and the occasional liberalizing measure to let Iranians vent and dampen foreign criticism. Such changes never touch Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, or the unelected advisory councils composed of religious scholars, nor do they alter Iran's aggressive message of religious zealotry.

Liberal democracies have long eschewed the closed fist in favour of reasoned negotiations but this will not work with Iran. The ruling regime is irrational, primarily concerned with theologically inspired expansionism and the destruction of Israel. Letting themselves be lulled by Iran's efforts at misdirection and its carefully crafted signals is the worst mistake Israel and other Western nations could make.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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