Israel’s rare opportunity

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Israel finds itself in unfamiliar territory today. The revolutionary atmosphere building in Iran presents Israel with a prospect it has rarely confronted: a safe bet. With the Obama administration refusing to back the anti-regime protesters, and the European Union similarly hemming and hawing, millions of Iranians who are on the streets, risking their lives to protest a stolen election and a tyrannical regime, have been cast adrift by those they thought would support them. To date, Israel has joined the US and Europe in rejecting the protesters. This should change.



In refusing to stick their necks out – and so effectively siding with the mullahs against the pro-democracy activists in the streets – US President Barack Obama, like Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Mossad chief Meir Dagan, have all rightly pointed out that Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s former prime minister and the titular head of the protest movement, is just as radical and extreme as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whom he seeks to unseat.



Moreover, Western officials and analysts point out that Mousavi’s primary backers from within the regime – former presidents Muhammad Khatami and Akbar Rafsanjani – are themselves anything but anti-regime revolutionaries.



What apparently motivates these men is the sense that through Ahmadinejad’s heavy-handed attacks against the revolution’s “old guard,” the presidential incumbent has shunted them aside. They feel slighted. And they are doubly humiliated by the fact that Ahmadinejad has acted with the open support of Iran’s real dictator – so-called “Supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei. The likes of Mousavi, Khatami and Rafsanjani don’t want to overthrow the regime whose aims they share. They just want to restore their power within the regime.



It is these twin assessments of Mousavi and his backers that stand at the center of Western leaders’ decision to give a wide berth both to the presidential race and to the protests that have arisen in its aftermath.



For Israel, the arguments for staying clear of events in Iran align with those informing much of the rest of the Western world. Israel’s primary concern is Iran’s foreign policy and specifically its nuclear weapons program and its support for anti-Israel terror groups. There is no reason for Israel to believe that a Mousavi government will be more inclined to end Iran’s race to the bomb or diminish its support for terror groups like Hizbullah and Hamas than Ahmadinejad’s government is. As prime minister in the 1980s, Mousavi was a major instigator of Iran’s nuclear program and he oversaw the establishment of Hizbullah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.



Beyond that, there is the fact that Israel – like the US – is the regime’s bogeyman. If Israel is identified with the protesters, the likes of Khamenei will use this connection to justify their brutal repression.



Finally, there is the distinct possibility, indeed the likelihood, that these protests will go nowhere. They will be brutally repressed or fizzle out of their own accord. So what would Israel gain by sticking its neck out?



While reasonable on their face, these arguments for doing nothing all ignore the significance of recent developments. Consequently they fail to grasp the new opportunities that have arisen – opportunities which left untouched will likely disappear in short order.



The fact of the matter is that with each passing day, Mousavi’s personal views and interests are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Whether he realized it or not, Mousavi was transformed last Friday night. When Khamenei embraced the obviously falsified official election results as a “divine victory” for Ahmadinejad, Mousavi was widely expected by Western observers to accept the dictator’s verdict. When instead he sided with his own supporters who took to the streets to oppose their disenfranchisement, Mousavi became a revolutionary. Whether he had planned to do so or not, a week ago Mousavi became an enemy of the regime.



The significance of Mousavi’s decision could not be more profound. As Michael Ledeen from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote Wednesday at the Pajamas Media Web site, last Friday night Mousavi tied his personal survival to the success of the protesters – and pitted his life against Khamenei’s. In Ledeen’s words, “Both Khamenei and Mousavi – the two opposed icons of the moment, at least – know that they will either win or die.”



For their part, by the end of this week, the protesters themselves had been transformed. If last week they were simply angry that they had been ignored, by Thursday they had become a revolutionary force apparently dedicated to the overthrow of the regime. This was made clear by a list of demands circulating among the protesters on Wednesday. As Pepe Escobar reported in Thursday’s Asia Times, the protesters’ demands include Khamenei’s removal from power, the dissolution of the secret police, the reform of the constitution under anti-regime Ayatollah Hossein Montazeri, who has been living under house arrest for the past 12 years, and the installation of Mousavi as president.



These demands make clear where the protesters are leading. They are leading to the overthrow of one of the most heinous regimes on the face of the earth and its replacement by a liberal democracy.



As far as Israel is concerned, this is a win-win situation. If the protesters successfully overthrow the regime, they will have neutralized the greatest security threat facing the Jewish state. And if they fail, Israel will still probably be better off than it is today. For if the mullahs violently repress the pro-democracy dissidents, the Obama administration will be hard-pressed to legitimize their blood bath by embracing them as negotiating partners.



Were Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to publicly announce Israel’s support for the protesters, Israel would stand to gain politically in a number of ways. First and foremost, it would be doing the right thing morally and so would earn the respect of millions of people throughout the world who are dismayed at their own governments’ silence in the face of the brave Iranian protesters risking their lives for freedom.



Moreover, by acting as the loudest and first democratic champion of the protesters, Israel would catapult itself to the forefront of the campaign for democracy in the Muslim world. Doing so would make it far easier for Israel’s representatives throughout the world to defend against false accusations by self-described human rights organizations that Israel is a human rights abuser.



Beyond that, Israel would be building an important alliance with the Iranian people themselves. Contrary to what the mullahs would have us believe, Iranians by and large do not share the widespread hatred of Israel and the Jews that their regime promotes and the Arab world embraces. Over the years, Iranian regime opponents – from the students to the trade unionists to women’s rights activists to minority Kurds, Azeris, Ahwaz Arabs and Baluchis – have all appealed to Israel for support. Israel Radio in Farsi, which broadcasts into Iran daily, has more than a million regular listeners.



Were Netanyahu to explain that the same mullahs who seek to disenfranchise and repress the Iranian people seek to destroy Israel with nuclear bombs; were he to call for Iran to stop financing Hamas and Hizbullah terrorists who are reportedly now deployed in Iran to brutalize the protesters, and instead invest in the Iranian economy for the benefit of Iran’s people, he would be sending a message that already resonates with the people of Iran.



Finally, Israeli outreach to the Iranian people now struggling to overthrow the regime would expose the Obama administration’s effective support for the mullahs against their people in all its absurdity and moral blindness. What’s more, the administration would be unable to launch a counterattack. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Obama would be in no position to attack Israel for suppo
rting Iranian dissidents demanding freedom. And their stammering reaction would make their attacks against Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria look ever more ridiculous.



Although Israel is far away from Iran, it has significant capacity to help the demonstrators. It could use its communication satellites to break through the communications blackout the regime has attempted to enforce. Its Internet capabilities can be offered to the protesters to reopen closed networks. Israel could temporarily expand its radio broadcasts into the country and allow its airwaves to be used to broadcast events on the ground in real time so that protesters won’t have to rely on word of mouth to know what is happening or where things are leading.



Again, it is more than possible that Khamenei will move to crush the dissidents or successfully buy enough of them off to subvert them. But in the meantime, Israel has a clear interest in keeping the Iranian cauldron boiling. The mullahs can only concentrate on so much at once. If they are preoccupied with domestic dissent, they will have less time to devote to Hamas and Hizbullah. If they are busy quelling armed insurrections by Kurds or Azeris or Baluchis, they will have less time to devote to negotiating the purchase of the S-300 anti-aircraft system with Russia, or keeping tabs on their nuclear scientists. Strategically, Israel stands only to gain – either marginally or massively – from the ayatollahs’ discomfort.



In an interview this week with National Review Online, Iranian expatriate Amir Taheri explained that Iran suffers from a divided psyche. On the one hand, the mullahs view Iran as a revolutionary vanguard of Islam. They do not see Iran as a nation-state. For them, the normal things that make up a life – economic stability, public safety and the hope that one’s children will do better – are of little use as they march forward under the flag of jihad. Israel and the US are necessary enemies.



On the other hand, the vast majority of Iran’s people wish to live in a normal and free nation-state. For them, the revolution means nothing but privation, suffering, repression and death. They do not hate America and they do not hate Israel. They do not seek nuclear weapons and they do not support the likes of Hamas and Hizbullah.



As Taheri put it, “When we consider Iran as a nation-state, we see Israel as its natural ally. The reason is that Israel, like Iran, is opposed to an exclusively Arab Middle East. Both want a pluralist Middle East in which there is room for diversity; a Middle East where one finds Iranians, Turks, Kurds, Christians and Jews, as well as Arabs.”



If Israel extends a hand in friendship to these Iranian patriots, the worst that can happen is that they fail to overthrow the mullahs and we are left to acknowledge that we wished them well. There is no shame in that.



Indeed, if they fail to overthrow the regime, and Israel is compelled to attack their country’s nuclear installations, it is hard to imagine that they will take it personally. Rather, recalling that it was Israel that stood with them first, they would no doubt understand why we were forced to act, and perhaps be inspired to try again to free themselves from the shackles of their hideous regime.



Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.


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  • Marc Handelsman, USA 06/19/2009 at 12:45

    The opposition will probably fail to overthrow the current regime in Iran, and will be brutally repressed. When Israel attacks Iranian nuclear sites, the Persians will take it personally no matter who controls Iran. Both Israel and the United States missed a rare opportunity to undermine the theocratic regime by not actively supporting student protesters. Once the protests are crushed, Iran will continue on its inevitable confrontation with Israel over its nuclear program. Israel and the United States need foreign policy strategies that can effectively exploit divisions amongst radical Islamists.

  • Marcel 06/19/2009 at 13:29

    What you hope for Israel to do,it’s not going to happen.
    Netanyahu the orator is too weak and fearful to lead.
    He’ll leave it to the college professor Obama.
    Israel’s God is leading His world’s agenda and Israel and the futile nations who ignore Him take a back seat.
    It’s easy to miss what He is doing if you are not paying attention.
    After years of cursing Israel,Amadinejad’s words sprout their deadly cursed weeds across Iran.
    The good always suffer with bad leaders as we in the U.S. are finding out.
    It’s going to get real ugly,not just for Iran but for the whole rebel planet.
    The rebels will not have peace.
    ‘And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.’
    Genesis 12:3
    ‘Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth ‘
    Iran feels the curse now growing daily,.division,the cursed mullahs exposed for what they are,angry citizens, growing chaos,possible anarchy,revolt,civil war ?
    Islam knows the curse.
    Hillary’s arm feels the curse and soon the U.S will also and mourn from coast to coast.
    For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the LORD upholdeth the righteous.
    Pslam 37:17
    Watch soon how the God of Israel uses North Korea and others to repay America for strong arming Israel to divide up His land.
    Soon,all the earth will know the curse.
    ‘For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.
    Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts of decisive destruction on all the earth.
    Isaiah 28:21-22
    Behold, the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.
    The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the LORD hath spoken this word.
    The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish.
    The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
    Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
    Isaiah 24:1-:6
    This is what is on the menu, coming now upon all the earth and the leader of the freak world, Obama only hastens it.
    It’s time yo get your house in order and seek and the Lord.

  • irlrsanders 06/19/2009 at 13:38

    Dear Ms. Glick,
    Referring to your ”Israel’s Rare Opportunity” article if Israel came out strongly and perpetually for freedom for the Iranian peoples as you suggest then more Iranians probably would be inclined to provide Israel very valuable intelligence information such as the location of the atomic resources and processing facilities.
    They might also be inclined to assist in sabotage of these and other important military resources of Iran. One example would be the smuggling of small back-pack size nuclear tactical bombs into underground very hardened production and research facilities.
    I nominate you for the president of Israel and simultaneously the United States. Both the current office holders, and that is what they mostly are, are much too weak personality wise (backbone, nerve, and daring) to handle the current dangers and threats even if they were so inclined. I wish they had at least ten present of your common sense and creative problem solving abilities. That is about all it would take to turn the situations around.
    Best wishes for you and Israel and the United States,

  • Josh_in_SantaMonica 06/19/2009 at 19:13

    Hey what about Israel coming out in support of their ‘agent’ in Iran, the Supreme Leader? You could say that he is secretly circumsized, has horns, and loves bloody matzoh! That would undermine him for sure! You could also say that the nuclear program is a secret Israeli plot to subjugate the Iranian people and take over the ME. It would be the end of the whole kit and kaboodle!
    Nice article Caroline. I think it makes total sense. What is there to lose anyway? Things can only get better from here. The upcoming attack would happen whether things stayed the same or got worse, so Israel might as well do as you suggest. Good thinking as usual.

  • scott 06/19/2009 at 20:19

    In a sane world millions of serviceable rifles with ammunition would be parachuting down all over Iran.

  • Baruch 06/19/2009 at 22:47

    Israel’s date with destiny vis-a-vis Iran is best described by Charles Krauthammer’s phrase he coined to describe Reagan’s position vis-a-vis the Soviet Union as the ‘Reagan Doctrine’. That is, the “American” ideal is not only predicated upon domestic security, but it is also inseparably connected to promoting liberty wherever and whenever possible.
    Obama is not on board with the Reagan Doctrine per se as is clearly seen by his silence with respect to the protesters in Iran. Many in America have pointed to the Polish solidarity movement as an example to contrast Reagan and Obama.
    I clearly recall events, which occurred in the late 1970’s in which another liberal Democrat, Jimmy Carter, pursued the same wishy-washy policy with respect to Iran. Israel succumbed to Carter’s unfounded belief in land-for-peace “linage”, however, at the time it was called “autonomy” and not Palestinian statehood. Lest I digress, the use of Arabs living in Samaria, Judea, and Gaza has always been a wedge issue much in the same sense as a football game. He who controls the ball controls the field. The only way in which to control the ball is to learn the game better than ones opponent and train at it. Israel learned the hard way that there is only one way to “fight fire”.
    Clearly, the Obama administration has not learned how the game is played. He showed this in his speech in Cairo, which to say the least was so flawed in logic that it defies the imagination how one of his stature could get away with it. The onus now falls upon Israel, whose historic ties to the United States have traditionally (yet tacitly) been based upon military strength and more specifically in relation to the nuclear issue.
    It is no longer a relevant question to ask whether Israel requires the United States’ approval for the furtherance of its own nuclear program. The way in which Israel dealt with Vanunu, for example, underscores the complexity of the power struggle that is now occurring. What makes this argument so difficult to explain is the corporate media’s fascination with crisis, yet as you pointed out Israel is in a win-win situation by virtue of its silence (media-imposed or otherwise), and might I add this silence is best put to the test in the arena of nuclear technology. Israel’s policy of not being the first to admit that they have “it” is proving to be the ace in the hole in this showdown of magnanimous proportions.
    Jimmy Carter ignited the Israel-Iran conflict thirty years ago by way of his inability to follow though with tangible evidence to refute the “linage” debate. Now that an entire generation in Iran has grown up with the belief that the Islamic state can achieve nuclear status by using Palestinian linkage as a wedge, the Israeli population must now come to terms with it. That is, in retrospect, the Iranian revolution was not about the power of an Islamic government, but rather about the power of nuclear weapons. It was always about Israel then, and it is still now, except that it is now show time. Obama does not understand this phenomenon no more than he can understand the historical roots of Zionism, which predates the Holocaust by at least a century. Zionism is still a relevant issue today as the split between American Jews, who supported Obama and are oddly now faced with the same inherent challenge for survival as European Jews perceived a century ago.
    Thank you for allowing to express my point of view on your blog. I respect your point of view and eloquent writing skills a great deal.

  • Bradford Stephen Kyle 06/20/2009 at 1:01

    I nominate Caroline Glick for the Nobel Peace Prize for this outline of the only rational plan to bring Mideast peace.
    This valiant torch of truth will surely enlighten our darkened world.

  • Bill K. 06/20/2009 at 1:45

    You are one of the few commentators with the understanding and acumen to look below the surface of this Iranian revolt and realize the result has moved far beyond a contested election between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi.
    It is maddening to watch the West in general and the United States in particular, cowardly clinging to the status quo when, as you rightly put it, this is a win-win situation for all of us.
    Any totalitarian regime is frail by its very nature. It lives in terror that its own subjugated populace might actually wake up one day and cast them aside. This appears to be happening in Iran now. The Iranians understand that massive force will be unleashed against them. We cannot be afraid for them and thus withhold our support. To do so puts us on the side of the mullahs. This timidity and fear of bloodshed in the West is what the mullahs are counting on.

  • mzi80 06/20/2009 at 3:21

    i’m a long time reader/admirer. your clarity and honesty and sanity is most refreshing. (ever the punctilious editors, misspells your name “croline” on your latest piece’s header).

  • Ron Grandinetti 06/20/2009 at 10:44

    Caroline we have to hope and pray the mullahs are the ones overthrown.
    Unfortunately Hussein Obama could have made a bold statement in support of the Iranian protestors and their desire for the election of their choice.
    He talks big, especially when he is talking to a trusted friend and ally Israel and of course they only view this as bad behavior.
    With friends he can flex his skinny muscles and with Iran and N. Korea he reveals the real wimp he is and takes a timid approach.
    A missed opportunity could leave us with the mullahs who control the government and little Hitler and we are back in square one.
    Again, we hope and pray the Iranians win out.

  • Aline 06/20/2009 at 20:37

    Dear Caroline, there are several common themes that appear routinely on anti-Israel talkbacks, with two of them being particularly annoying and misleading:
    1) That Israel needs US aid. That Americans are sacrificing their hard-earned dollars to support Israel. That Israel could not possibly survive without American financial aid.
    2) That US politicians are bought and paid for by the Israeli lobby.
    The first issue needs to be clarified for everyone involved, both for those who defend the need for US aid, and those who understand that this aid has compromised Israel’s sovereignty and stifled Israel’s capacity to be militarily self-sufficient and innovative.
    Besides, over two thirds of American aid goes back to the USA as military purchases. This aid to Israel in fact supports the American economy.
    The second issue is especially misleading since much Arab money is flowing these days not only into Congressmen’s pockets, but also into think tanks, non-profit foundations such as the Carter Foundation and the Clinton Foundation, to say nothing of donations to candidates to the presidency.
    The American public has no idea how Arab money and influence are taking over US institutions such as universities, informational media, and so on.
    So, Caroline, would you please consider writing about these two subjects?
    Thank you,

  • Ron Grandinetti 06/20/2009 at 20:59

    A very good point.
    Your right the last I checked 2/3 if the aid going to Israel is used to purchase from the US military hardware while the aid going to Egypt is spent purchasing military hardware from France.!!!!!
    It is definitely important to know the facts and I am sure Caroline will break it down for us.
    Good call Aline

  • Elisha 06/21/2009 at 5:48

    Dear Caroline,
    Your recent article Israel’s rare opportunity is a good goal but a poor method. If Isreal gets involved as you suggest it will only result in the Arab states running to support Khomeni in order to exploit linkage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel should support other nation state actors. I suggest Egypt because it is in a position to gain more by cooperation then by tooting the linkage horn. However, Mubarak must first be made aware of this opportunity and how it impacts himself and Egypt. Egypt’s state run news service either has missed the complexities or is pandering to general the Arab consensus and so indicates the need for this dialogue.

  • Marcel 06/21/2009 at 8:51

    Basij shoots to Death a Girl in Tehran
    Mr Denial from Ankara and so many others cannot face that Islam is the problem.
    Islam is cursed because the God of Israel judges it for how it has treated the least of His children ,the Jews.
    I speak as a Christian.
    When the great supreme leader of the Islamic republic of Iran is exposed for the devil which he is,WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT ISLAM ?
    Everywhere you look ,In ISLAMIC war torn Somalia ,in Pakistan,Iraq and Afghanistan where they blow up each other ,even in their Mosque’s as fellow moslems are praying inside.
    In the Phillipines, in S. Thailand, In Kashmir ,India,Bombay,this cult of death only brings violence everywhere it is.
    It’s time for the Persians to escape from this false god and lie of the false prophet Mohammed.
    How naive for Israel to think it can make peace with the new and improved Amalekites especially when the God of Israel told His stubborn,hard headed people not to make peace agreements with them.
    And the foolish people of Israel think they will have peace by groveling and begging to their false gods in the West.
    You lost the PR game for the hearts of the corrupt world long ago.
    The truth will not change the minds of those under the influe3nce of evil.
    You ignore reality and this is why all you do for peace has been futile.
    As it has been since the beginning the world does not care about Jews,especially fantasy driven Jews who ignore their God and chase after delusion and lies.
    Peace with Islam is impossible.

  • Ron Kilmartin 06/23/2009 at 3:40

    A super idea Carolyn! Israel cannot loose, and it might just shame Obama into being the POTUS as opposed to being Chamberlain II.


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