Many Western commentators were puzzled by the surprise victory of Benjamin Netanyahu after opinion polls predicted him losing in a close race. Many accused the Prime Minister of “fear-mongering” to win the elections. In fact, the fears of Israeli voters are already well founded and the result of more than two decades of being the target of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.
For Israeli analysts like The Times of Israel columnist Haviv Rettig Gur, the election results were not that puzzling. He wrote, “…it is Iran, not Netanyahu, that has convinced nearly all Israelis from all parts of the political spectrum that Iran is a very real danger to Israel.”
The events of the summer of 2014 are just one example. In 50 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, 4,500 rockets were launched at Israeli civilians. But this is only part of the story. Since Israel unilaterally left Gaza in 2005, terrorists in Gaza have fired more than 11,000 rockets into Israeli territory.
What shocked me about the news coverage of the fighting in Gaza is how few commentators in the Western media bothered to ask where all these rockets came from. The answer is no secret. The rockets have two sources: about half were supplied by Iran and smuggled into Gaza, and the rest were made in Gaza with Iranian know-how.
Indeed, for two decades, Western analysts have failed to comprehend the pivotal role of Iran as an obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In fact, after the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords, Iran immediately began to try to sabotage the peace process.
Between 1993 and 2007, 167 Palestinian suicide bombers blew themselves up on Israeli buses, in restaurants and shopping malls. The suicide bombings, and other terror attacks, killed 1,000 Israeli civilians and wounded many thousands more.
Although Palestinian terror groups provided the hateful ideology and the suicide bombers, it was Iran that supplied the financial means and technical support to commit mass murder. A book published last year finally shines light on this topic.
In his book, The Bus on Jaffa Road, The Record columnist Mike Kelly tells the heart wrenching story of the suicide bombing of Bus #18 in Jerusalem on February 25, 1996, which took the lives of 26 people. Among the victims were two young Americans: Sara Duker and Matthew Eisenfeld.
Kelly tells of the heroic efforts of the families of Sara and Matthew to identify those responsible for the attack and hold them accountable through a lawsuit in a U.S. Federal Court. The evidence pointed to the important role of the government of Iran in the attack.
In the trial we learn that the Hamas bomb maker, Hassan Salameh, received training in Iran. In addition, at the time of the bombing the Iranian regime provided extensive financial support for Palestinian terror groups — particularly Hamas and Islamic Jihad — amounting to some $75 million per year.
How many of the 167 Palestinian suicide bombings were made possible by the largesse and training of the government of Iran?
Shortly after the Second Intifada petered out, the Second Lebanon War broke out in the summer of 2006, which saw Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah fire 4,000 rockets into northern Israel. Today, Iran has re-armed Hezbollah with 100,000 rockets and missiles that can hit any target in Israel.
Finally, there are the repeated threats to destroy Israel which are typically ignored by Western analysts who dismiss these words as empty rhetoric. Just last November, the Ayatollah Khamenei sent this message openly on Twitter: “This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated.”
Israelis actually do take these threats very seriously and for good reason.
It is easy to sit in New York, London or Paris and pass judgement on the motives of Israeli voters. However, if you’ve been the target of rockets supplied by the Iranian regime that regularly threatens your destruction while it pursues the development of nuclear weapons, things looks much different.
Beyond the decisions of Israeli voters, there is a much more fundamental question that needs to be asked: Why would anyone who truly desires peace in the Middle East allow Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, to be a nuclear threshold state?
If more commentators would focus on the Iran factor, peace between Israelis and Palestinians may actually become a real possibility.