The message in Israel’s capture of Iran’s documents on its nuclear program was not just in the documents. It was in the raid.
Amidst the hullabaloo over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s flamboyant press conference on Iran’s nuclear program, the message was lost.
It was not just in the documents.
It was in the identification of the target: Iran. Not Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah. Not Iran’s military bases in Syria. Not Iran’s on and off support of Hamas in Gaza. Not Iran’s at least partly successful attempts to destabilize Iraq by sending its fighters there. Israel identified the target: Iran itself.
Israel penetrated Iran. Israel got in, mounted a large raid on an Iranian warehouse in the nation’s capital, and got out, all in one day. That was the message. The target is Iran.
This identifies the dimension of the threat caused by Iran’s bold intervention in Syria and bold rearming of Hezbollah with some 100,000 missiles. If Iran retaliates against Israel for Israel’s strikes against Iranian military facilities in Syria, or if Iran instructs its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah, to unleash those tens of thousands of missiles against Israel, don’t expect Israel to let Iran define the location of the battlefield and the scope of the battle.
Expect Israel to strike Iran itself.
The problem is Iran. The enemy is Iran. The source is Iran. The root is Iran. The only way to stop the Iranian attempts to surround and endanger Israel is to stop Iran. In Iran.
So far Iran has held its retaliatory instincts in check. Perhaps because Iran does not want a regional war. Perhaps because Iran does not want to risk an Israeli attack on its soil. Perhaps because Iran needs the good will of Europe to sustain its trade with Europe. Perhaps for other reasons. But one thing is clear: Israel raided Tehran to send a message: The target is Iran. The Iranian game of terrorist “sponsorship” and terrorist “proxies” and terrorist “bases” is over.
No doubt, Israel is encouraged to call a spade a spade and to take the admittedly high risk of targeting Iran itself not only because of its sober evaluation of the security risks posed against it by Iran, but because of the backing of the US. This newspaper has rued the lack of leadership of the Trump administration (and of the Obama administration before it) in Syria, but there is an upside to Trump’s reluctance to shut down the risk of wider war posed by Iran’s intervention in Syria. That upside is an apparent willingness to let Israel do the job.
This is a terrible prospect in human terms. A direct Israel-Iran confrontation could entail the loss of much life, treasure and property; and could put the safety and security of many countries at risk, not least the United States. But if the choice is between that and a major Iranian military presence on Israel’s border, there really is no choice — given Iran’s repeated promise to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
We’ll leave it to the Saudi crown prince to pursue the Iran-is-worse-than-Hitler argument. These comparisons are meaningless on their own terms, yet the central point remains perfectly clear: Iran desires to destroy Israel, and makes bold military moves in Syria and Lebanon in order to realize that goal. That is why Israel has identified the target: Iran.
That is why, at least in part, Israel raided a warehouse in the heart of Tehran.
That is why Israel strikes at Iran’s delivery of arms to Iran’s own troops or to other anti-Israel actors in Syria.
That is why Israel strikes Iran’s bases in Syria.
That is why Israel risks its relations with Russia by striking spots in Iran that Russia, at least in theory, controls.
Israel’s target is Iran. That is the outcome of Iran’s relentless hatred of Israel, from its obscene Holocaust-denial cartoon contests, to its vile anti-Semitic rhetoric, to its unbending radical Islamic elminationist ideology, to its direct threats.
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