Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an evil man. But he is not a stupid man. Indeed, he is smart and fastidious. He understands power and how to get it. And he understands that the purpose of a nation's foreign policy is to sell ideas and messages and to build coalitions that enable a state to achieve its national aims. Due to his understanding and his abilities, Ahmadinejad has achieved significant success in advancing his policy aims of defeating the United States, destroying the State of Israel, and acquiring nuclear weapons.
The source of his frenetic motivation for destruction is his deep-seated and fanatical desire to hearken the arrival of the Shi'ite messiah – the twelfth imam or the Mahdi. Ahmadinejad promises that the arrival of the Mahdi will signal the enduring defeat of liberal democracy and the notion of human freedom and the eradication of Christianity and Judaism. All will be replaced by the "pure" Islam of the Mahdi, of Ahmadinejad and of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.
Over the past week evidence of Ahmadinejad's success was legion. On Wednesday, London's Daily Telegraph reported that Iranian-North Korean nuclear collaboration has reached new heights. Not only were Iranian scientists present at North Korea's nuclear test last October, according to the Telegraph, North Korean nuclear scientists are in Iran today assisting their Iranian counterparts in preparing a nuclear test that could take place by the end of the year.
This new information means that the time-line for Iranian acquisition of nuclear bombs has been shortened dramatically. If just months ago US intelligence officials claimed that Iran would not acquire nuclear weapons until 2011, and if just six weeks ago Mossad chief Meir Dagan told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran needed two years to acquire the bomb, the report that Iran could test a nuclear weapon by the end of 2007 means that there is reason to fear that Iran will have the means to launch a nuclear attack against Israel next year.
Moreover, recently there have been several reports that all Iran's nuclear facilities are working at full strength to increase uranium enrichment. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's announcement Monday that 38 predominantly Western UN nuclear inspectors would be barred from returning to the country is yet another sign that Iran's nuclear efforts are being stepped up. As well, Iran's acquisition last month of advanced Russian Tor M-1 anti-aircraft missiles demonstrates that with Russian assistance, Iran is preparing seriously for war.
Aside from North Korea's apparent nuclear alliance with Iran, we have the escalation of chaos by Iran's proxy arm in Lebanon. This week Hizbullah moved ahead with its stated goal of overthrowing Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's government. It should be clear from the events this week in Lebanon that Iran is working to undermine any semblance of order in that country in order to facilitate its exploitation as a forward operating base against Israel.
As Nobel laureate Professor Israel Aumann explained Wednesday at the Herzliya Conference, the empowerment of Iran's terror army in Lebanon is an acute strategic threat to Israel. Aumann noted that there is every reason to fear that Iranian nuclear bombs could be transferred to its terror proxies. A nuclear attack against Israel aimed at annihilating the Jewish state can be conducted by relatively primitive delivery systems. And there is little reason to doubt that Hizbullah possesses such systems.
Iran's recent diplomatic successes are also quite impressive. This week, Iran signed a defense pact with Belarus. The agreement comes on the heels of Ahmadinejad's successful state visit to Hugo Chavez's Venezuela. Indeed, Iran's hyperactive diplomacy is bringing about a situation in which every state with a beef against the US or Israel is collaborating on some level with Iran. Bringing this point home on Wednesday was Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. In his speech before the Global Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday, Moussa expressed opposition to any US military strike against Iran's nuclear installations.
In the realm of international public opinion, Iran's position is anything but weak. This was made clear last Saturday in London during a public debate between London's pathologically anti-American and anti-Israel Mayor Ken Livingstone and US Islamic scholar Dr. Daniel Pipes. During the debate, Livingstone noted in a laconic manner that evoked no outrage that he thinks that the establishment of the State of Israel was a mistake.
Speaking at the Herzliya Conference Tuesday, former minister Natan Sharansky explained the significance of statement's like Livingstone's for Israel's national security. Sharansky warned that today international opinion is more sympathetic to the view that Israel should be destroyed than European opinion in 1939 was to Germany's exhortations that the Jewish people should be expunged from Europe. As a result of the Arab-Islamic-Leftist campaign to demonize Israel that has been going on systematically for more than six years, today throughout the world there is a large and growing sense that wiping Israel off the face of the earth wouldn't be particularly objectionable.
MANY MEMBERS of the audience who heard Sharansky's remarks on Tuesday serve in official capacities vested with responsibility for contending with this terrible state of affairs. So the question that must be asked is what are they and the politicians under whom they serve doing to contend with the growing specter of national destruction? Unfortunately, on the level of international diplomacy the answer is precious little. Israel's top leaders spend most of their time spreading baseless promises that everything is under control. Aside from that, they engage in either feckless or counter-productive diplomatic activity.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for instance, has visited world capitals and told us that he is building a coalition. Yet, all evidence is to the contrary. During his visit last month to Germany – a potential coalition partner against Iran – Olmert failed to give the Germans any reason to work with us against Iran. His recent visits to Russia and China were preordained failures since there is no chance that those countries – which are assisting Iran economically, militarily and diplomatically – will lift a finger to prevent Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
For their part, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Deputy Premier Shimon Peres are working to build international coalitions to join forces not against Iran, but against Israel. All three are encouraging the US, Europe and the Arabs to pressure Israel to give Judea and Samaria to Hamas and Fatah – Iran's Palestinian proxies.
A proper Israeli foreign policy would serve to check and undermine Iran's international maneuvering. It would work to bring about Iran's delegitimization and isolation in the international community. It would work to dry up Iran's bank accounts and so unravel the stability of the regime and then act to overthrow it through popular insurrections. An effective, coherent foreign policy would be aimed at building solid international coalitions in which Israel could be part of an international military effort to destroy Iran's nuclear installations. Or, at the very least, it would prepare international public opinion for a unilateral Israeli military campaign against Iran.
There is a small group of prominent Israelis who currently serve in no official capacities who are privately acting to delegitimize and isolate Iran internationally. Members of this group include opposition leader and former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Sharansky, former IDF chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon, MK
Dan Naveh and former UN ambassador Dore Gold. These men are pushing to have Ahmadinejad indicted under the Genocide Convention for inciting to genocide by calling for Israel's destruction. Many also work tirelessly to explain the magnitude of the Iranian nuclear threat not only to Israel, but to the entire world.
On the economic warfare front, Netanyahu is waging a one-man war – and rather successfully at that – to push forward an international campaign to divest from companies doing business with Iran. A study conducted by the Washington-based Center for Security Policy showed that US public employee pension funds are heavily invested in such companies. Divestment from these companies could potentially cause hundreds of billions of dollars in losses for Iran.
During the Herzliya Conference, Republican presidential contenders including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator John McCain all went on record in support of pension fund divestment. Moreover, Netanyahu met with the state treasurers of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut on Tuesday in Boston and urged them to divest their public employee pension funds from companies that do business with Iran. If all five states were to divest their funds, Iran would stand to lose $71 billion.
There are a significant number of prominent public figures – both Jewish and non-Jewish – in the world who fervently wish to join forces with Israelis to defend against Iran and the forces of global jihad more generally. A number of them participated in the Herzliya Conference. Sharansky noted that during the war with Iran's army in Lebanon last summer, several prominent foreigners volunteered to help Israel in defending itself in the crucial battle for international opinion. Yet these esteemed friends of Israel, such as Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz and former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, could get no information from the Foreign Ministry, the Prime Minister's Office, the Defense Ministry or the IDF's Spokesman's Unit. No one could be bothered to talk to them. No one had time to help them help Israel.
In a similar fashion today, angry voices are emanating from the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office complaining about Netanyahu's efforts. Olmert, Livni and others have repeatedly accused Netanyahu of alarmism and are seeking to silence Israel's most effective defender in the international arena today.
TOMORROW WILL mark the 62nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In recent years, the international community has declared the day International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Under the morbid influence of the Iran discussions at Herzliya, this week I paid a visit to Yad Vashem's new museum. On display were several copies of Der Stuermer – Josef Goebbels's infamous anti-Semitic propaganda organ. What was most striking about the caricatures that pictured Jews as monkeys and monsters in human form was how stupid and primitive they were. If we had had the power then to respond to the demonization campaign that paved the way to Birkenau and Babi Yar, we could have defeated it. But we did not have the power then.
Today, the genocidal propaganda emanating from Iran, the Arab media and the radical Left is no less foolish and flimsy. If we are wise enough to fight it as a nation and a state, there is no doubt that we will be victorious. All Ahmadinejad's coalitions and evil intentions cannot help him against a roused Jewish people.
But if we want to win, we need to fight.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.