Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

From the Hebrew Press: With Iraq Neutralized, Israelis Seek Catalyst for War with Iran

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

From the Hebrew Press: With Iraq Neutralized, Israelis Seek Catalyst for War with Iran

Article excerpt

From the Hebrew Press: With Iraq Neutralized, Israelis Seek Catalyst for War With Iran

Ever since the spring of 1992 there has been speculation in the Israeli press about how best to cope with the threat of Iran, now that its neighbor, Iraq, is no longer a threat to Israel, nor a barrier to Iranian expansion. In one scenario, Israel would use its considerable military power to attack Iran alone. In another, Israel would use its considerable political and media power to "persuade" the United States to do the job.

The indoctrination campaign to prepare public opinion in Israel for the task is gaining steadily in intensity. In February 1993, detailed media discussions of how Israel best can neutralize, or totally eradicate, the Iranian threat reached a peak of intensity. Following are samplings of recent articles suggesting means of "persuading" the West to attack Iran.

"Iran Needs to be Dealt With Just as Iraq was Dealt With," is the headline over a Feb. 19 article by Yo'av Kaspi, the chief political correspondent of the leftist Al Hamishmar. The article contains an interview with Israeli military strategist Daniel Leshem, introduced as "a retired senior officer in military intelligence, and currently a member of the Center for Strategic Research at the Tel Aviv University."

Leshem maintains that although allied air raids on Iraq did little to destroy its military, and especially nuclear, capabilities, because of the allied ground victory U.N. observers can finish the job.

Pursuing this "analogy," Leshem declares: "The state of Israel alone can do very little to halt the Iranians. We can raid Iran from the air, but we cannot realistically expect that our aerial operations will destroy all its capabilities. At best, we could destroy some Iranian nuclear installations in this manner. But we could not possibly reach them all, not even all of their major centers of nuclear development. That development has proceeded... in a decentralized manner, with installations and factories scattered widely across the country. It is reasonable to suppose that we will never know the locations of all of the Iranian installations, just as we did not know those locations in the case of Iraq."

Leshem therefore proposes "to create the situation so that it will appear similar to that of Iraq before the Gulf crisis." Leshem then lays out a detailed plan to accomplish this:

"Iran claims sovereignty over three strategically located islands in the Persian Gulf. Domination over those islands is capable of assuring domination not only over all the presently active oil fields of the area, but also over all of the natural gas reserves not yet exploited.

"We should hope that, emulating Iraq, Iran will contest the claims of the Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia over these islands and, repeating Saddam Hussain's mistake in Kuwait, start a war. This might lead to imposition of controls over the Iranian nuclear development program exactly as it did in Iraq.

"We should hope that, emulating Iraq, Iran will start a war."

"This prospect is, in my view, quite likely, because the Iranians lack patience. But if, nevertheless, they should refrain from starting a war, we then should take advantage of their involvement in the Islamic terror which already troubles the entire world.

"Right now, Israel has incontestable intelligence that the Iranians are about to resume the kidnappings. We should take advantage of this by explaining persistently to the world at large that, by virtue of its involvement in terrorism, no other state is as dangerous as Iran.

"For example, I cannot comprehend why Libya has been hit by damaging sanctions, to the point that all sales of military equipment are barred to it, only because of its rather minor involvement in terrorism. By contrast, Iran, with its record of masterminding terrorism against the entire world, remains scot-free of any such sanctions."

Leshem attributes this lamentable state of affairs to Israel's neglect of its public relations (called in Hebrew hasbara, i. …

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