It started out small. Netanyahu was running for prime minister and making detached comments about Iran being a threat to Israel’s security. Here and there a hysterical article, assessing Iran’s proximity to achieving nuclear weapon’s manufacturing, popped up. It isn’t official yet , but the heavy war mongering and fear instilling has began in the Israeli mainstream media. Going for the "surrounded by enemies" rhetoric, the rickety relations with Egypt has been in the headlines as well, and Lebanon is getting some extra attention with espionage charges.
Here are today’s titles on the front page of the Ha’aretz website, keeping the Israeli mind in fear for its security and the feeling of chaos:
No reason to meet pathological Holocaust denier
Israeli officials slam Swiss President Hans Rudolf Merz over planned meet with Iran’s Ahmadinejad.
Report: Hezbollah cell in Egypt planned to recruit Israeli Arabs
Asharq al-Awsat: Group wanted to recruit Israeli Arabs to smuggle explosives, perpetrate attacks.
Egypt state daily: Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah tried to overthrow Mubarak
Lengthy piece in Al-Ahram accuses the three of cooperating to destabilize the Egyptian regime.
ANALYSIS / Hezbollah and Iran have become Egyptian targets
Egypt’s discovery of active Hezbollah cell on its soil is reverberating beyond the Arab world.
‘IDF eyes attack on Iran within hours of green light’
Top Israeli defense official tells London Times ‘message to Iran is that the threat is not just words.’
Yossi Melman: I would advise Netanyahu to attack Iran
Hamas: We will never recognize the enemy in any way
Egypt uncovers 5 smuggling tunnels near Gaza border
Hamas praises driver who hit 2 Israeli policemen in West Bank
Clinton ‘deeply disappointed’ with Iran sentencing of U.S. reporter
Report: Israeli spy ring in Lebanon infiltrated Hezbollah
Are you scared yet?
Who Started it?
After four months of "climbing anti-semitism rates around the world", the threat of Iran is now splashed all over the papers. Even Times Online ran with this sickening piece, detailing the technical obstacles in attacking Iran, and praising Israel’s ability to achieve it. The formal stance, however, is that of president Shimon Peres’ regular peace-faker rhetoric, this time directed at U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell (Ha’aretz):
"All the talk about a possible attack by Israel on Iran is not true… The solution in Iran is not military."
After all, Mr. Peres is a laureate of a formidable peace prize, he couldn’t be lying. Why would all this idle talk of attacking Iran take place then? Could it be because Israeli leaders- including Peres himself- have been threatening Iran continuously, in the media? (Ha’aretz):
""We’ll strike him," Peres said in the interview."
Meanwhile, Iran is making responsible moves as part of the international community. Iran’s UN ambassador wrote a letter asking for a firm response by the UN, stating Israel is violating UN charter, with it’s threats of attack. That would be Article 39, he was referring to:
"The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security."
Lost in Translation
In his infamous speech, at the World Without Zionism conference, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the controversial words:
"…the occupying regime must be wiped off the map…"
There’s actually a whole debate over the translation of Ahmadinejad’s words, and apparently a more accurate translation would be either "this regime occupying Jerusalem must [vanish from] the page of time", or alternately "be eliminated from the pages of history".
Granted- at face value- this doesn’t sound good. But as an Israeli, who’s government does, in fact, employ an occupying regime, I’d like to take a deep look into Ahmadinejad’s words and try to understand what Iran’s official stance is and what its motives are. After all, if all of us, Israelis, would have been half as responsible about our information, there wouldn’t be an occupation, in the first place.
Let’s start with the obvious; If this was 1945 and someone would have said "the Nazi regime must be wiped off the map" no one would have been too shocked and no one would have thought this meant that Germany itself should be wiped off the map. I know many people resent the comparison between Nazis and Israel, but the rhetoric prevalent in Israel and the testimonies (readily available on the internet including on Znet), leaves me very firm with a belief that the boot fits and we should wear it.
This is the stance the Iranian government asserted, when addressing the European Parliament on the issue:
"This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned… How is it possible to remove a country from the map? He is talking about the regime. We do not recognize legally this regime"
Ahmadinejad has also explained his statements on several different occasions:
"There is no new policy, they created a lot of hue and cry over that. It is clear what we say: Let the Palestinians participate in free elections and they will say what they want." [a later news conference on January 14, 2006]
"… no need for any measures by the Iranian people… I assure you… there won’t be any war in the future…" [D-8 summit meeting in July 2008]
My understanding of the speech is taken from only one Wikipedia page, but seeing as I’m exposed to Israeli hysterics all day long, I think this page, which seems to point to Ahmadinejad’s exoneration, balances that out. (If anyone feels like further balancing me, I’m game.) In any case, it’s a fascinating in depth analysis of the Iranian stance towards Israel and I recommend you take a look, before the next up and coming war in the Middle East.
On a personal note, I think this was bad politics on Ahmadinejad’s part. I understand the need for strong speech, regarding Israel’s murderous policies in the occupied territories. I try to practice it myself, as I see these policies as inexcusable and condemnable. However, I’m sure Mr. President knows exactly how vulnerable his country is, right now, and making statements that could be so easily misconstrued, is irresponsible towards his people. If Israel attacks, it’s not much of a gamble, who’s side the US will be on. There have been enough destroyed and demonized countries in the Middle East.