To bomb or not to bomb? In the entourage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (with echoes in Washington), this is the question. The target would be Iran, which is once again all but accused by the International Atomic Agency of developing an illicit nuclear arsenal.
But why should Israel want to bomb Iran? Objectively, they should be strategic allies. Neither wishes to see the Middle East dominated by pan-Arab or Sunni Islamist regimes; both want a region where diversity is accepted as the norm, with enough room for everyone: Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Jews, Persians, Arabs, Israelis, Turks, Copts and Kurds, among others.
None of the traditional causes of dispute between nations exists between Iran and Israel. There are no territorial claims and counterclaims, no border conflicts, no rivalry over markets and/or access to resources, no clashes over how one’s kith and kin are treated by the other.
Iranians and Israelis have no history of mutual hatred and enmity. Jews have lived in Iran for three millennia; Iran has the second-largest Jewish community in the Middle East, after Israel. And thousands of Israelis of Iranian origin continue to nurture the best sentiments toward Iran.
For decades, the existence of Israel has helped divert part of the negative energies that most Arabs have against Shiites in general and Iranians in particular.
Israel is not alone in facing territorial claims from Arabs. They press similar claims against Iran. The communiqué from every Arab summit contains a condemnation of Israel and a territorial claim against Iran.
Taha Jizrawi, a theoretician of pan-Arabism, published a book with this title: “Three Creatures that Allah should not have created: Flies, Jews and Iranians.”
Israel’s quarrel is not with Iran but with the Khomeinist regime. While Iran as a nation is a natural ally of Israel, Iran as a vehicle for Khomeinism is an enemy of the Jewish state.
A Shiite version of pan-Islamism, Khomeinism harbors global ambitions. For Khomeinists, Iran is not a nation with its own national interests but part of an Islamic ummah that is at war with the United States and its allies. And the Khomeinists are trying to seize control of the Israel-Palestine issue in the hope of seducing the Arabs into accepting their hegemony.
This isn’t a new strategy. Egypt under Nasser used it, as did Libya under Khadafy, Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Syria under Hafez al-Assad. Just as those Arab despots armed terrorist groups against Israel, the Khomeinist regime is using Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah to target the Jewish state.
Yet the Khomeinists appear to welcome a bombing campaign from Israel and/or the United States. Such an attack that is not part of a broader strategy to topple the Khomeinists would only strengthen their regime.
That’s what happened in Egypt in 1967, when Nasser was defeated but allowed to remain in power. And in 1986, after Libya was bombed by the US but Khadafy was allowed to live to brag about his “great victory.” Similarly, in 1991 Saddam Hussein was defeated but allowed to remain in power.
In 2006, in military terms, Israel defeated the Lebanese Hezbollah. Hezbollah lost a quarter of its full-time fighters and all its bases close to the frontier, as well as 80 percent of its arsenal. Yet, because its leadership was left intact in Beirut, it could claim “the greatest victory in modern Islamic history.”
Another reason that Khomeinists may welcome bombings that only wound them: They face a difficult election next spring, with the threat of another insurrection against their corrupt and bloody rule. A bombing raid would give them an excuse to crush the opposition in the name of national unity and claim fresh legitimacy.
The Khomeinist regime is a mortal enemy of the Iranian people, of Israel and of the West. Those who are thinking of a bombing raid should remember Machiavelli’s advice: “Do not wound a mortal enemy and let him live. Either turn him into a friend or kill him.”
BY: Amir Taheri, New York Post