What are the Israelis going to do with the Iranians? Some prefer to quote from movies. Lately, during a televised debate about Iran on Channel 1, Israel’s public channel, they broadcasted the scene “when you have to shoot, shoot don’t talk!” from the classic Western “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. It could be argued that Israel and Iran have said enough, expressing too many mutual threats. As to who are the good; the bad and ugly in the Iranian issue? That is another question.
Iran is far away from Israel and therefore needs a base near her rival in order to launch an attack. Egypt has a border with Israel and Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi visited Iran recently. No one would accuse Morsi of placing the protection of Israel from an Iranian offensive as one of his top priorities. Yet Morsi and his Sunni movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, oppose right now a war against Israel let alone allowing Iran to exploit Egypt as a springboard to confront Israel. The cost for Egypt would be too high.
Iran has one way to strike Israel directly: launching her 450 long range missiles that could reach Israel. However, even if all of them are usable and could avoid Israel’s anti missile system, the “Arrow”, they still carry only one ton of explosive each. Israel is not a large country, yet not that small either. 450 missiles could cause many casualties and damages but not wipe out the entire country, not with conventional warheads.
Iran needs a bigger punch and her best (and worst) minds are working on some ideas, which remind, if we go back to movies, “Dr. Strangelove”, “the day after”, “the sum of all fears” etc. The Iranian nuclear project is still in production while Israel, according to non Israeli sources, is capable of rendering those films real right now, sponsored by “the Dimona “textile factory”.
The Iranians would experience this horror show in their homes. It would not be a pretty picture and would not have a happy ending, at least not for the Iranians. But it doesn’t look like Israel would screen those films, if only because of the decimating reviews from critics around the world, among them some Israelis.
It seems Israel would not drop her nuclear weapons on a country that calls for the elimination of Israel unless there is a real mortal threat to the survival of Israel. Currently there isn’t one, although some Israelis believe that another heat wave in their country (the weather at this time of the year) may kill them. It is even doubtful if Israel bombs Iranian nuclear sites to avoid a clear and present danger in the future.
This brings us to another quoting “if you can’t beat them. Join them”. Since Iran and Israel cannot annihilate each other, for different reasons, besides being stuck in the same lousy neighbored they have much more in common. In contrast to many in their area they are neither Sunni nor Arab, and both represent ancient cultures with a long and rich history.
The two countries never collided with each other on the battlefield. There can always be a first time (even while you read those lines) but actually what for? The two sides have no substantive reason to fight if only because they are too far away from each other. Good fences make good neighbors and a thousand KM apart even more. This is not like the case of Israel and the Palestinians who have border issues among the many others.
Iran and Israel are entangled in a “cold war” because the former insists on intervening in Israel’s back yard by supporting the Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad against Israel. But Israel and Iran were not always enemies. Furthermore in the 1970s, besides funky clothing and far out music, there was also collaboration between Iran and Israel. They even considered joint ventures such as building a fighter. Ideas that sound today as a crazy joke were a sensible option in the past.
The Iranians i.e. the Persians actually strive to go even far more back in time. In 538 BC the king of the vast Persian Empire, Cyrus, permitted Jews to leave their Babylonian exile and return to the land of Israel. Today almost six million of them are there. The current leadership in modern Persia wishes again to be a dominant power in the Middle East. Iran could allow the Israelis to stay where they are as long as they are subordinate to Iran or at least to a pro Iranian Arab regime. From an Iranian perspective six million Jews could be like the 20,000 Jewish citizens in Iran if they know their place, in the back of the bus.
Therefore Israel is left with another famous quoting “you can’t live with them. You can’t shoot them”. Or can you?
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