Iranian persistence in hostility toward Israel has been evident on a number of fronts in the past few weeks.
Shalom FreedmanShalom Freedman is a freelance writer in Jerusalem, whose work has appeared in a wide variety of Jewish publications.
On the propaganda front, this hostility is demonstrated by a new Iranian television series. According to the Jerusalem Post's (Dec. 24, 2004) Hilary Krieger the TV series Zahra's Blue Eyes is built on the premise that Israel is basing its scientific advancement on organ harvesting from Palestinian children. This blood libel, however outrageous and absurd, is being used to teach the very young Iranian population to hate Israel and the Jews and to regard them as their primary enemy.
Iran's hostility to Israel is also at evidence closer to home and more on the ground, in its arming and protecting Hizbullah, and its infiltrating Hizbullah into Gaza. Debkafile has indicated that the most recent terrorist tunnel explosion, in which five Israeli Bedouin soldiers were killed, was a Hizbullah-like military operation. The whole upper third of Israel is now in the range of the Hizbullah missiles provided by Iran and Syria.
In another recent Iranian operation, a number of its operatives were apprehended as they were attempting to gather intelligence information near Israeli embassies and other sites in the United States. As counter to this, Iran trumped up a story about Israeli spies in Tehran and proclaimed themselves the innocent victim of Zionist aggression.
Iranian hostility to Israel is, in one sense, a political tactic, an effort to curry favor with the Arabs and establish Iranian legitimacy as leader of the Islamic world. But it is also an obsessive theme of Iranian radical fundamentalist Islamic ideology. More than once, Iranians have indicated that the weapons of mass destruction they are building are intended to be used to counter the Israelis (when they are talking to the outside world), or to "wipe out the Zionist entity" (when they are popularly preaching to their own people).
Most importantly, Iran continues moving ahead in its campaign to legitimize its own nuclear program, and eventually not simply have nuclear weapons, but have nuclear weapons the world assents to.
In a comprehensive Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) article on the November 25, 2004 agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Ayelet Savyon demonstrates that the agreement was, by and large, a one-sided Iranian triumph. For agreeing to temporarily suspend its enrichment of uranium, Iran received legitimacy as a nuclear power. It also received promises of European technological and economic aid. Moreover, its negotiator Hassan Rowhani made clear that the suspension is temporary, a matter of months and not of years; and that Iran reserves for itself the right and the time when it will resume nuclear enrichment. Furthermore, there was no IAEA success in attempting to force Iran to stop building its facility at Arak, the facility that is aimed at eventually producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.
Iran also achieved its major goal of preventing its case from being brought before the UN Security Council. And in achieving this, succeeded in dividing the United States, which had been working for the bringing of the case to the UNSC, from its European allies. In the course of the whole proceeding, Iran succeeded in strengthening its ties with China. China had guaranteed that, even were the matter brought before the Security Council, its veto would have been used to prevent sanctions from being employed against Iran.
While Europe (France, Germany, Britain) have been celebrating the supposed suspension of Iranian enrichment, there have been reports of Iran's working on secret facilities and continuing the development of their weapons programs. The Iranians have also openly proclaimed improvements in the range and accuracy of their Shihab-3 missile. There has, moreover, been one report from an American intelligence source claiming that Iran is working to fit nuclear warheads to the Shihab-3.
Dr. Ephraim Kam, Deputy Director of the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, estimates (December 2004) that it is three to four years before Iran will be a nuclear power. He suggests that the Iranians made a tactical agreement with the Europeans, and when the time is right for them, they will move toward being a nuclear power. There are, however, other intelligence sources, Dr.Yosef Bodansky for one, who claim that Iran already has the capability to reach Israel with its nuclear weapons.
As for Israel and the United States, they seem to be laying low for now. The United States, it is true, has its own account with Iran, sorely aggravated by Iranian support for terror operations in Iraq. But the United States now seems overburdened in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has indicated that if it has a next target, it will be the far weaker Syria. And this, when there have been administration voices( Douglas Feith, John Bolton) who have indicated that US action against Iran may be in the offing. As for Israel, Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz has recently suggested a lowering of the tone against Iran. This, when it would seem, on the surface anyway, that in the realm of counteraction against Iranian aggression Israel's tone is already very low indeed.
Iran is continuing with its hostility and aggression, forwarding its own programs and aims and getting around major obstacles. Iran's increasing wealth, increasing connection with China and Europe, increasing influence in its own area, potential for alliance with a possible Shiite dominated Iraq - all point to major trouble ahead. Iran is moving forward and no one is truly stopping it.