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Subject: 117-Israel_&_Iran_2_93

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Report No. 117 Israel Shahak, 24 February 1993

Israel versus Iran

Since the spring of 1992, public opinion in Israel is being

prepared for the prospect of a war with Iran, to be fought until

Iran's total military and political defeat. In one version of this,

Israel would attack Iran alone, in another it would "persuade" the

West to do the job. The indoctrination campaign to this effect is

gaining in intensity. It is accompanied by what could be called

semi-official horror scenarios purporting to detail what Iran could

do to Israel, the West and the entire world when it acquires nuclear

weapons as it is expected to in a few years hence.


The manipulation of public opinion to this effect may well be

considered too phantasmagoric to merit any detailed description.

Still, the readers of this report should take careful notice of this

manipulation, especially since to all appearances the Israeli

Security System does envisage the prospect seriously. Minute-detail-

filled anticipations of Iran becoming a major target of Israeli

policies reached a peak of intensity in February 1992. In this

report I am going to confine myself to a sample of recent

publications (in view of the monotony of their contents a sample

will suffice), emphasizing how they envisage the possibility of

"persuading" the West that Iran must be defeated. All Hebrew papers

had shared in advocacy of this madness, with the exception of

Haaretz which has not dared to challenge it either. The Zionist

"left" papers, Davar and Al Hamishmar have particularly

distinguished themselves in bellicosity on the subject of Iran; more

so than the rightwing Maariv. Below, I will cover mostly the recent

writings of Al Hamishmar and Maariv on Iran, only occasionally

mentioning what I found in other papers.


A major article of the current chief political correspondent of Al

Hamishmar, Yo'av Kaspi, bears the title that already encapsulates

all its contents: "Iran needs to be treated just as Iraq had been"

(February 19, 1993). The article contains an interview with Daniel

Leshem, introduced as "a retired senior officer in the [Israeli]

Military Intelligence, and currently a member of the Center for

Strategic Research at the Tel Aviv University". Leshem is known as

involved in forming Israeli strategies. Leshem's account of how

Iran's nuclearization is too dubious to merit coverage on these

pages; and so are his lamentations that "the world" has been

ignoring the warnings of the Israeli experts who alone know the

truth about what the Muslim states are like. His proposals to

reverse the progress of Iranian nuclearization, however, are by all

means worth of being quoted or at least reported. Leshem begins by

opining that the Allied air raids of Iraq achieved very little to

destroy its military and especially nuclear capabilities, but owing

to the Allied victory on the ground, the U.N. observers could

succeed in finishing the job. Harping on this "analogy", Leshem

concludes: "The State of Israel alone can do very little to halt the

Iranians. We could raid Iran from the air, but we cannot

realistically expect that our aerial operations could destroy all

their capabilities. At best, some Iranian nuclear installations

could in this way be destroyed. But we couldn't possibly thus reach

them all, nor even their major centers of nuclear development,

especially since that development has proceeded along three

different lines in a fairly decentralized manner, with installations

and factories scattered widely across the country. It is even

reasonable to suppose that we will never know the locations of all

their installations, just as we didn't know it in Iraq's case".

Leshem believes that Israel should make Iran fear Israeli nuclear

weapons, but without hoping that it might deter the Iranians from

developing their own.


Hence Leshem's proposal "to create the situation which would

appear similar to that with Iraq before the Gulf crisis". He

believes this could "stop the Ayatollas, if this is what the world

really wants". How to do it? "Iran claims its sovereignty over three

strategically located islands in the Persian Gulf. Domination over

those islands is capable of assuring domination not only over all

the already active oilfields of the area, but also over all the

natural gas sources not yet exploited. We should hope that,

emulating Iraq, Iran would contest the Gulf Emirates and Saudi

Arabia over these islands and, repeating Saddam Hussein's mistake in

Kuwait, start a war. This may lead to an imposition of controls over

the Iranian nuclear developments the way it did in Iraq. This

prospect is in my view quite likely, because the Iranians lack

patience. But if they nevertheless refrain from opening a war, we

should take advantage, for example, of their involvement in the

Islamic terror which already hurts the entire world. Right now,

Israel has incontestable intelligence, he implies, that the Iranians

are about to resume the kidnappings. We should take advantage of it

by persistently explaining to the world at large that by virtue of

its involvement in terrorism, no other state is as dangerous as is

Iran. For example, I [Lesham] cannot comprehend why Libya has been

hit by grievous sanctions, to the point that all sales of military

equipment are barred to it, only because of its rather minor

involvement in terrorism; while Iran, with its record of guiding

terrorism against the entire world, remains scot free of such or

even stricter sanctions".


In a true-blue Israeli style, Leshem attributes this lamentable

state of affairs to Israel's neglect of its public relations (called

in Hebrew "Hasbara", i.e "Explanation"). He nevertheless hopes that

Israel will soon be able "to explain to the world at large" how

urgent is the need to provoke Iran to a war.


Provoking Iran, whether into responding by a war or by measures

stopping short of a war, is also elaborated by the editor and former

military correspondent of Maariv, Ya'akov Erez ("Iran is an

existential threat", February 12). It is useful to note that Maariv

is currently owned by Ofer Nimrodi, the son of Ya'akov Nimrodi who

before the fall of the Shah had been an Israeli military attache in

Tehran, who had maintained the most amicable relations with the Shah

and some of his high-ranking officials; and who later became

involved in the Irangate up to his ears.


Contrary to Leshem, Erez claims that, not only the future Iranian

nuclear power, but also its conventional army whose present size he

describes as "having no limits", poses "an existential threat" to

Israel. In the absence of sanctions prohibiting the sales of

"defensive weapons" to Iran, several states, much to Erez's chagrin,

continue to supply Iran with arms, thus aggravating "the existential

threat" to Israel. He therefore proposes that Israel "persuades the

U.S." to enforce an embargo on exmports of weaponry and other

industrial goods to Iran from any state. For example, "if really

persuaded, the U.S. Navy could hopefully blockade even North Korea",

and thus prevent the latter's sales of lethal weapons to Iran. Erez

thinks this could be done "without particular difficulties". He also

advocates "persuading" the U.S. to use all its clout to make

European countries comply with Israeli wishes in this matter. Among

countries listed by Erez as needing such "persuasions", we find not

only the NATO members such as Britain, France or Germany but also



The whole scheme will according to Erez rest on three assumptions.

The first is that "Iranian messengers are reaching every spot in the

world in order to foment what they call `a silent revolution'", with

the effect of "encouraging terror everywhere", or else "inviting

potential terrorists to their centers and actually training them

there". In contrast with this bombast, the list of acts of terror

attributed by Erez (without proof) to Iranians is rather meager: in

the last year no more than three instances. They are: the

destruction of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires (which took place

several days after the liquidation of Sheikh Mussawi with his entire

family; a circumstance which Erez doesn't mention), the failed

attempt to kill the head of the Jewish community in Istanbul (which

the Turkish authorities attribute to the local Mafia), and the

assassination of a security officer in the Israeli Embassy in



Even if Iran were involved in all three acts, this hardly

corroborates Erez's "existential threat" thesis. But let me make an

enlightened guess as to the course of Israeli "hasbara". The number

of terrorist incidents, not necessarily involving the loss of Jewish

lives, but "attributable" to Iran, can be expected to considerably

increase the next year so as to make "the persuasion" downright

irresistible. The second assumption is that the Iranian threat to

oil resources "is really far greater than that which was caused by

the invasion of Kuwait". Why? "Because all Arab Gulf states, and

thereby the sources of Western oil supplies, would thus be exposed

much more directly than they were at that time. It would no longer

be a case of invading a single state and seizing its oilfields, but

a direct threat to all immense spaces of the Arab peninsula and to

the freedom of sailing in the Gulf". The third assumption is that a

war against Iran can be fought with perfect ease, with all genuine

Arab progressives standing to reap immense advantages from it. "A

military attack devised to nip the Iranian threat in the bud must

have firm foundations in an alliance with the genuinely progressive

Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates". Turkey

will also be rescued from "a threat to its very survival posed by a

million of Iranians within its borders whom Iran can easily incite".

But a war against Iran is bound to rescue other Arab states as

well. Egypt, for example, will only rejoice when freed "from

Iran-engineered incitement".


The Palestinians are also not forgotten in this context. Their

opposition to "the peace process" has no rationale apart from the

Iranian influence on them, says Erez, parroting the official line of

the "experts in Arab mentality" adopted since the mass expulsion.

The defeat of Iran will calm them down. As some still remember,

Rabin attributed the outbreak of the Intifada to Iranian and Libyan

incitement as its sole cause, thus setting an official Israeli line

for a considerable amount of time. Israeli "experts in Arab

mentality" never tire of attributing all signs of unrest to

"incitement", preferably manufactured abroad.


In the same issue of Maariv, Telem Admon reports that "a senior

Israeli", i.e. a senior Mossad agent, "about two weeks ago had a

long conversation with the son of the late Shah, prince Riza Sha'a

Pahlevi", presumably in order to appraise the man's possible

usefulness for Israeli "Hasbara". In the "senior's" opinion,

"Clinton's America is too absorbed in its domestic affairs", as a

result of which "the prince's chances of reigning in Iran are

deplorably slim. The prince's face showed signs of distress after he

heard a frank assessment to this effect from the mouth of an

Israeli". Yet "the senior's" appraisal of the prince was distinctly

negative, in spite of "the princely routine to hand to all visitors

copies of articles by Ehud Ya'ari", (an Israeli TV commentator

suspected of being a front for the Israeli Intelligence.) Why? In

the first place because "he shows up how nervous he is. His knees

jerked during the first half an hour of the conversation". Worse

still, his chums "were dressed like hippies", while "he kept

frequenting the Manhattan's haunts in their company and addressing

them as if they were his equals".


The "senior" deplores it greatly that the prince emancipated

himself from the beneficial influence of his mother, "who had done a

simply wonderful job travelling from capital to capital in order to

impress everybody concerned by her hope to enthrone her son in Iran

while she is still alive". Her valiant efforts look to me as if

connected, to some extent at least, to the no less valiant efforts

of the Israeli "Hasbara", after it has already written off her son.

The new Israeli attitude toward the "progressive" Arab regimes is

also mentioned by Haaretz New York correspondent Shlomo Shamir

(February 19) who deals with them in a Palestinian context. Shamir

describes at length the role of the Moroccan Ambassador to the U.N.,

who in February was the President of the Security Council. Acting on

personal instructions of king Hassan II, he was instrumental "in

convincing the Security Council members from the Third World states

to accept the agreement between Israel and the U.S. concerning the

expellees". In the opinion of the Israeli Foreign Affairs ministry,

informs Shamir, Morocco's help "is attributable to the fear some

progressive Arab states have of Islamic fundamentalism as

represented by Iran". Due to that factor, those states can be

expected to support Israel on many political issues. According to

the well-informed Pinhas Inbari (Al Hamishmar, February 12) it was

Saudi Arabia which stood behind the Moroccan initiative. In Shamir's

opinion, "the PLO either grasped the real state of affairs in the

U.N. belatedly or not yet". Israel places its hopes in those

"progressive" Arab states, expecting them to continue doing what

they have been doing.


Describing Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates as "progressive"

must be seen as a specialty of those Hebrew press commentators whose

habit is to nostalgically stare at the government for inspiration.

(Kuwait is not so described because its atrocious persecutions of

the Palestinians are eminently exploitable by the Israeli



Even the most expert of the Israeli "experts" could not yet come

out with an explantion of what exactly their "progress" consisted

of. This is why the label keeps being used without any explanation.

Nevertheless, presumably to reinforce their impression of

"progress", Israeli censorship has in recent months rigidly

suppressed all news which might cast a doubt upon their

"progressiveness". This is nothing new. In the past, censorship

repeatedly silenced the news likewise: from Mengistu's Ethiopia,

Numeiri's Sudan, Ceausescu's Romania and from other regimes with

similar virtues. It is true that in conformity with Leshem's

account, Iran had indeed claimed the three islands. But it

subsequently agreed to seriously negotiate their status. This fact

was already duly suppressed by Israeli military censorship.

But what might happen if both Israel and Iran have nuclear

weapons? This question is being answered by the Hebrew press at

length, often in manner intended to titillate the readers by

anticipated horrors. Let me give a small sample, choosing also an

article relating to the Palestinians. Two "analytical" articles of

Al Hamishmar and Maariv summed up above, were accompanied by much

longer pieces stuffed with the "scenarios" competing one with the

other in inventing the possible horrors. In Al Hamishmar, Kaspi

interviewed the notorious hawk, professor Shlomo Aharonson, who

begins his perorations by excoriating the Israeli left as a major

obstacle to Israel's ability to resist Iranian evildoing. Without

bothering about the left's current lack of political clout, says

Aharonson: "The left is full of prejudices and fears. It refuses to

be rational on the nuclear issue. The left doesn't like nuclear

weapons, fullstop. The opposition of the Israeli left to nuclear

weapons is reminiscent of the opposition to the invention of the

wheel". Profound insights, aren't they?


After spelling them out, Aharonson proceeds to his "scenarios".

Here is just one of them: "If we tomorrow establish a Palestinian

state, we will really grant a sovereignty to an entity second to

none in hostility toward us. This entity can be expected to reach a

nuclear alliance with Iran right away. Suppose the Palestinians open

hostilities against us and the Iranians deter us from retaliating

against the Palestinians by threatening to retaliate in turn against

us by nuclear means. What could we do then?" There is a lot more in

the same vein, before Aharonson concludes: "We should see to it that

no Palestinian state ever comes into being, even if the Iranians

threaten us with nuclear weapons. And we should also see to it that

Iran lives in permanent fear of Israeli nuclear weapons". This

appears in the Mapam party organ which "explains" abroad that its

umbrella list, the Meretz, is committed to the establishment of a

Palestinian state, "following a period of autonomy". And such

"explanations" for the consumptions of foreigners are still widely



Erez' article is also printed next to a much lengthier article,

stuffed with horror scenarios even more ghastly then Aharonson's. It

is written by Avner Avrahami and it bears the title "1999: the year

of the Iranian nuclear bomb". It will suffice to quote its opening

sentences alone: "What are you planning to do in 1999? To finally

terminate the payments on your mortgage? To celebrate a Barmitzva

for your son, who is now 7? To use some money you are now saving in

order to tour the U.S. from coast to coast which has been the dream

of your lifetime? To retire from work and then to build for

yourself a dream of a house, surrounded by a large garden, perhaps

in Israel or perhaps in some of the settlements in the Territories?

Whatever you want to do in 1999, will be done under an ever hovering

threat: that an Iranian nuclear bomb may fall on you... According to

the best expertly estimates, 1999 is the latest date for Iran to

acquire a nuclear bomb. But it can happen even sooner..."


Let me reiterate that the Israelis are now being bombarded

ceaselessly with such messages. And official announcements to the

same effect are also not lacking. For example, general Ze'ev Livneh,

the commander of the recently set up "Rear General Command" of the

Israeli army said (Haaretz, February 15) that "it is not only Iran

which already endangers every site in Israel" because, even if to a

lesser extent, "Syria, Libya and Algeria do too". In order to

protect Israel from this danger, general Livneh calls upon "the

European Community to enforce jointly with Israel an embargo on any

weaponry suplies to both Iran and the Arab states. The European

Community should also learn that military interventions can have

salutary effects, as proven recently in Iraq's case".


Timid reminders of the Hebrew press that Israel continues to have

the monopoly of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, were definitely

unwelcomed by Israeli authorities. In Hadashot of January 29 and

February 5, Ran Edelist, careful to rely only on quotes from the

U.S. press, raised the problem of the nuclear waste disposal from

the rather obsolete Dimona reactor and of other possible risks of

that reactor to Israeli lives and limbs. He was "answered" by

numerous interviews with named and unnamed experts, all of whom

fiercely denied that any such risks existed. The experts didn't

neglect to reassure their readers on this occasion that the Israeli

reactor was the best and the safest in the entire world. But

speaking in the name of "the Intelligence Community" Immanuel Rosen

(Maariv, February 12) went even further. He disclosed that the said

"community" had felt offended "by overly self-confident publications

of an Israeli researcher dealing with nuclear subjects. This

researcher has recently been found by the Inteligence Community to

pose `a security risk', to the point of observing that in some

states such a researcher `would have been made to disappear'". Ran

Edelist did react in a brief note (Hadashot, February 14), confining

himself to quoting these revealing ideas of "the Inteligence

Community", and drawing attention to threats voiced there. But apart

from Edelist, the press of "the only democracy in the Middle East"

either didn't dare comment, or was not allowed to.


Yet the press is allowed, and even encouraged, to discuss one

issue related to Israeli nuclear policies. It is allowed to say how

clever Peres was in pretending to agree to negotiate nuclear

disarmament treaties, and then raising unacceptable conditions for

entering any such negotiations. An example of this is Akiva Eldar's

(Haaretz, February 19), coverage of Rabin's excoriation of Egypt on

TV a few days earlier. Rabin scolded Egypt for suggesting that a

Middle East regional nuclear disarmament agreement would be

desirable. Eldar comments that "Rabin's attack was aimed at Peres no

less than at Egypt". And he goes on: "The Prime Minister is known to

loathe anything that relates to Egypt. Aiming at Butrous Ghali, he

said [in a public speech]: `What can you expect of him? Isn't he an

Egyptian?' But Rabin is particulrly averse to Egyptian insistence

that the Middle East should be completely denuclearized. Peres, by

contrast, favors using Egypt as an intermediary in various

diplomatic pursuits, while recognizing that Cairo's reminders on the

subject of Dimona obstruct his real mission, which is to mediate

between Egypt and the grand man in Jerusalem". Therefore, after

"Egypt recently invited Israel to a symposium that `would deal with

both conventional and non-conventional armed confrontations', a

high-level discussion was held in the Foreign ministry on how to

pretend to accept the invitation and then `decline it elegantly'.

The solution was to communicate to Egypt the Israeli agreement in

principle to attend the symposium, but on three conditions: that it

be chaired by the U.S. and Russia; that its agenda be unanimously

determined by the chairmen and all the participants; and, most

interestingly, that no weapon reductions be discussed unless the

presence of other Arab states (not just of Syria and Lebanon, but

also - hard to believe - of Libya and Iraq) be in advance assured.

In this way, any conceivable discussion of nuclear affairs was

effectively precluded". I find it superfluous to comment on Eldar's



But I do want to make some commments of my own on the incitement

of Israelis against Iran. I am well-aware that a lot of expert

opinions and predictions quoted in this report will sound to foreign

readers like fantasy running amok. Yet I perceive those opinions and

predictions, no matter how mendacious and deceitful they obviously

are, as being politically significant. Let me explain my reasons. In

the first place, I didn't quote the opinions of raving extremists. I

was careful to select only the writings of the respected and

influential Israeli experts or commentators on strategic affairs who

can be presumed to be well-acquainted with the thinking of the

Israeli Security System. Since militarily Israel is the strongest

state in the Middle East and has monopoly of nuclear weapons in the

region, strategical doctrines of its Security System deserve to be

disseminated worldwide, especially when they are forcefully pressed

upon the Israeli public. Whether one likes it or not, Israel is a

great power, not only in military but also in political terms, by

virtue of its increasing influence upon U.S. policies as described

in report 116. The opinions of the Israeli Security System may mean

something different from what they say. But this doesn't detract

from their importance.


But there is more to it. Fantasy and madness in the doctrines of

the Israeli Security System are nothing new. At least since the

early 1950s those qualities could already be noticed. Let us just

recall that in 1956 Ben Gurion wanted to annex Sinai to Israel on

the ground that "it was not Egypt". The same doctrine was professed

in 1967-73 with elaborations, such as the proposal of several

generals to conquer Alexandria in order to hold the city hostage

until Egypt would sign peace on terms dictated by Israel.

The 1982 invasion of Lebanon relied on fantastic assumptions, and

so did the 1983 "peace treaty" signed with a "lawful Lebanese



All Israeli policies in the Territories are not just totally

immoral, but also rely on assumptions steadily held and advocated

without regard for their fanciful contents. It will suffice to

recall how Rabin together with the entire Israeli Security System

perceived the outbreak of the Intifada as a fabrication of western

TV and press. They concluded that if the Arabs are denied

opportunities to fake riots in order to be photographed, the unrest

in the Territories could be suppressed with ease.


Relevant to this is the fact that Israeli policies bear the easily

recognizable imprint of Orientalist "expertise" abounding in

militarist and racist ideological prejudices. This "expertise" is

readily available in English, since its harbingers were not so much

the Israelis as the foreign Jewish Orientalists like Bernard Lewis

or the late Elie Kedourie who had visited Israel regularly for the

sake of hobnobbing on the best of terms with the Israeli Security

System. Yet all too often this "expertise" is being ignored. It was

Kedourie who performed a particularly seminal role in fathering its

assumptions and who consequently had in Israel a lot of influence.

In Kedourie's view, the peoples of the Middle East, with the

"self-evident" exception of Israel, would be best off if ruled by

foreign imperial powers with a natural capacity to rule: certainly

for a long time yet. Kedourie also believed that the entire Middle

East could be ruled by foreign powers with perfect ease, because

their domination would hardly be opposed except by grouplets of

intellectuals bent on rousing the rabble. Kedourie lived in Britain,

and his primary concern was British politics. In his opinion the

British refused to continue to rule the Middle East, with calamitous

effects, only because of intellectual corruption of their own

experts, especially those from the Chatham House, misguided enough

to dismiss the superior expertise of minority nationals,

particularly Jewish, from the Arab world, who alone had known "the

Arab nature" at first hand. For example, in his first book, Kedourie

says that already in 1932 (!) the British government was misguided

enough to grant Iraq independence (it was faked, but never mind)

against the express advice of the Jewish community in Baghdad. On

many occasions during his recurrent visits to Israel since the 1960s

until his death (one of which I myself attended), Kedourie would

assure his Israeli audiences that Iraq could "really" be still ruled

by the British with ease, under whatever disguises it would be

convenient to adopt, provided only the grouplets of rabble rousers

would be dealt with by a modicum of salutary toughness, and the

opportunities for education would be restricted so as not to produce

superfluous intellectuals, prone to learn the Western notions of

national independence.


True, Kedourie also opposed the idea of exclusive Jewish right to

the Land of Israel as incompatible with his imperialistic outlook,

but he favored the retention of Israeli permanent rule over the

Palestinians. The rather incongruous blend of Kedourie's ideas with

the Land of Israel messianism is already an innovation, of the

Israeli Security System vintage.


Israeli policies toward Egypt have been consistently guided by

Kedourie's doctrine. Recall the Lavon Affair, whose purpose was to

ensure that British troops would occupy Egyptian territory forever.

Recall the establishment of an informal but pervasive American

protectorate over Egypt through the Camp David accords. Until this

day, the real Israeli aim is to control Egypt indirectly by using

one or another Western power for this purpose. Israeli policies

toward all other Middle Eastern nations are similar, except that the

stronger Israel feels the more it tries to replace western hegemony

by its own.


The implications of the Kedourie doctrine for Israeli policy

makers are obvious. First, Israel always seeks to persuade the West

about what it "true" interests and "moral duties" in the Middle East

are. It also tells them that by intervening in the Middle East they

would serve the authentic interests of Middle Eastern nations. But

if the Western powers refuse to listen, it is up to Israel to assume

"the white man's burden" as defined more than 100 years ago.

Another implication of the Kedourie's doctrine, acted upon by

Israel since the early 1950s, is that no strong state is to be

tolerated in the Middle East. Its power must be destroyed or at

least diminished through a war. Iranian theocracy may have its

utility for the Israeli hasbara, but Nasser's Egypt was attacked

while being emphatically secular. In both cases the real reason for

Israeli offer to start a war was the strength of the state

concerned. Quite apart from the risks such state may pose to Israeli

hegemonic ambitions, the Orientalist "expertise" requires that the

natives of the region always remain weak, especially when ruled not

by their traditional notables but by intellectuals, whether

religious or secular.


Before World War I, such principles were taken for granted in the

West, professed openly and applied globally, from China to Mexico.

Israeli Orientalism is no more than their belated replica. It

continues to uphold opinions which, say in 1903, were widely taken

for granted as "scientific" truths. All the subsequent "troubles" of

the West are perceived by the Israeli experts as a well-deserved

punishment for listening to its intellectuals who had been casting

doubt on such self-evident truths. Without such rotten

intellectuals, everything would have remained stable. Israeli

experts replicate this logic when they insist that a tiny little bit

of escalated repression could (after nearly 26 years of trying!)

make the Palestinian masses in the Territories "psychologically

collapse" and instantly acquiesce to the Israeli diktat.

Let us return to the special case of Iran, though. Anyone not

converted to the Orientalistic creed will recognize that Iran is a

country very difficult to conquer because of its size, topography,

and especially bcause of the fervent nationalism combined with the

religious zeal of its populace. I happen to loathe the current

Iranian regime, but it doesn't hinder me from immediately noticing

how different it is from Saddam Hussein's. Popular support for

Iran's rulers is much greater than for Iraq's. After Saddam Hussein

had invaded Iran, his troops were resisted valiantly under extremely

difficult conditions.


All analogies between a possible attack on Iran and the Gulf War

are therefore irresponsibly fanciful. Yet Sharon and the Israeli

army commanders in 1979 proposed to send a detachment of Israeli

paratroopers to Tehran to quash the revolution and restore the

monarchy. Until stopped by Begin, they really thought that a few

Israeli paratroopers could determine the future history of a country

as immense and populous as Iran! According to a consensus of

official Israeli experts on Iranian affairs, the fall of the Shah

was due solely to his "softness", in particular to his refraining to

order his army to slaughter thousands of demonstrators wholesale.

Later, the Israeli experts on Iranian affairs were no less

unanimous in predicting a speedy defeat of Iran by Saddam Hussein.

No evidence indicates that they have changed their assumptions or

discarded their underlying racism. Their ranks may include some

relatively less opinionated individuals, who have survived the

negative selection process which usually occurs within groups

sharing such ideologically-tight imageries. But such individuals can

be assumed to prefer to keep their moderation to themselves, while

hoping that Israel can reap some fringe benefits from any Western

provocation against Iran, even if it results in a protracted and

inconclusive war.


I hope I have made it clear why I tend to treat Israeli official

experts on Iranian affairs seriously, in spite of their evident