Thursday, February 20, 2020 -
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Iran and Israel: A ticking clock

Iran edges closer and closer to all out war

Choose: Whether the upcoming Israeli election would make Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu more militant against Iran, to put on a show of power; or less militant, to sustain calm.

Choose: Whether President Trump would meet the leader of Iran to advance a non-nuclear Iran — and to lift punishing sanctions — or whether it’s a pipe dream.

Choose: Whether Iran really has thrown the nuclear deal overboard, refusing to allow in UN inspectors, or whether it’s all bluster.

Choose: Whether Hezbollah, Syria and Iraq will continue to station or allow passage for Iranian armaments, on pain of Israeli attacks; or whether Israel is too tough to tempt.

Choose: Whether Hamas, the Sunni Islamic terrorist group, will receive major monies from Iran, the Shiite Islamic terrorist group; or whether internecine religious hatreds will rule the day.

Pick whichever side you wish in these scenarios, it doesn’t matter. These are sideshows, whatever the choices. The real show, the one with only one side, is the growing possibility of a major war between Israel and Iran. The side here is Iran’s hatred of Israel, which is not Islamic at all, and which, therefore, does not belong in the Middle East at all. On top of which, Israel, the “Little Satan,” is allied with the US, the “Great Satan.”

Western readers put this word, “satan,” in quotation marks. We don’t really believe in it. We don’t take it other than metaphorically, if that. Iran does not put the word in quotation marks. To Iran, the US is satanic, literally. So is Israel. And Israel is a lot closer, and a lot less powerful, than the US. Thus, Israel becomes the primary object of Iran’s religion-based political extremism. When Iran talks about destroying Israel, it is not hyperbole. When Iran talks about the Holocaust being a myth, it means it. There is no bridge-building or accommodation between the Islamic rulers of Iran and Israel.

Nor is there any rational calculus by Iran of its own self-interest. If Iran loses $800 million worth of weaponry in one night of Israeli bombardments, it just keeps coming back. If Iran suffers the loss of smaller caches of weapons in hundreds of Israeli attacks, it just keeps coming back. If Iran cannot secure in Syria its weapon caches, meant for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran moves these caches elsewhere, such as Iraq.

If Iran cannot sufficiently weaponize Hezbollah to threaten Israel’s existence, and if Iran is thwarted wherever it turns in its attempt to build major military bases close to Israel, then, we fear, Iran might strike out in a major war.

Netanyahu, even his critics will testify (sometimes especially his critics) is not trigger happy. Scores of attacks by Hamas in Gaza on Israeli civilians and farms would have justified an Israeli response over the last five years. Repeated Iranian intrusion of its own weaponry in Syria over the last five years may have elicited a full blown military response from another Israeli prime minister. As the stakes have risen, however, so has Israel’s caution. But with Iran showing no signs of restraint in ambition or in practice, Iran seems to edge closer and closer to all out war.

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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