This article is a response to the analysis “Israel and the Shia Threat” written by Dennis M. Nilsen
Written by Hadi Gholami Nohouji exclusively for SouthFront
Upon reading this piece which has as its main objective identify the rationale behind the increasing hostility of the Israeli leadership towards the Shia in comparison with the Sunni, I think it is necessary to make a few points about some of the issues in this article.
As an Iranian national and journalist I try to be as unbiased as possible and, to be honest, I did find the overall majority of the points in this article to be true and the analyst’s insight and information about the issues engaged are superb and nearly complete. Still, we all tend to be a little biased when expressing ourselves and in this case I believe this has also happened (I invite the author to challenge this thought if believes that I am in the wrong).
The first point is that although the Iranian is overtly hostile to Israel its hostility has not been translated directly into action and there haven’t been any direct actions on behalf of Iran against Israel. Many could point to the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires but it is important to remind them of the fact that the allegations are many and the concrete evidence of Iran having a hand in that are none.
Nevertheless Israeli hostility towards Iran has been translated into action as there are evidences pointing that Mossad was involved in the assassination of Iranian scientists from 2010 to 2012 while Tel Aviv Wikileaks confirmed in 2012 that part of Iran’s nuclear installations were destroyed or sabotaged by Israel and kurds.
Another thing to remember is that the Israeli leadership probably is aware of the fact that Iran, even if it were to attain nuclear weapons (which the JCPOA now ensures it won’t), will never launch a unilateral nuclear strike against Israel or any other country the simple reason being that in doing so Tehran would ensure its own destruction, which renders much of the rationale in favor of the isolation of Iran unsustainable (also it is important to take into account that Tel Aviv itself has an ample nuclear arsenal and doesn’t even allow inspections of its sites).
Surprisingly many analysts still have the mentality that acquiring a nuke is synonym to using it while they ignore that the use of a single nuke by Iran would assure international response against Tehran and would pave the way for the use of the same kind of weaponry on Iranian soil.
Another one of the important facts ignored in the text is the fact that the Muslims and Jews were living in harmony and without much problems in Jerusalem and the land of Palestine or Israel until late 1880s when the Jewish population of Europe and to some degree Middle East began to more actively discuss the prospects of a possible return to the land of Palestine which was largely as a solution to the widespread persecution of Jews, and anti-Semitism in Russia and Europe.
This and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 (with ample British support) and the subsequent annexes of territories were the major reasons for which we are facing this Arab-Israeli crisis of today (for sure the Palestinians and the neighboring Arab states themselves aren’t any less innocent in this issue).
That is why I think that Iran, itself victim of the Great Britain’s interventions in its own political issues (the Coup against the first democratically elected prime minister of Iran in 1953 in favor of a later on dictatorial dynasty), is much more sensitive to what identifies (correctly or mistakenly) as British plans to take over Middle East and control its resources which would explain the hostility towards Israel.
Also one should not forget that Israel was one of the major backers of the Pahlavi Dynasty that deprived the Iranian population of the much needed political and individual freedoms following the coup in 1953 and ended the country’s short lived first experience of a democratic system.
Still, it is true that religion plays a big part in the hostility of the Iranian leadership towards Israel but ignoring the other facts and variables that influence this attitude is a mistake that limits and does not show the big complete picture.
The last point that I do think that needs to be addressed is the fact that there has been talk about the vela-ye faqih at least since the 10th century CE, when Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid first talked about the “Limited Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist”, a limited version of what is actually being implemented in Iran.
Also, I have to remind the fact that the actual Vali-ye-faqih in Iran, Seyed Ali Khamenei, is supervised by the Assembly of Experts which means that the Vali-ye-faqih’s power is regulated through this council.
I do believe that even with all the problems and hostile rhetoric among Iran and Israel in the long run and if Tel Aviv ceases its occupation of the Palestinian land and ends discrimination against the Palestinians, then Tehran will have little reason to keep up its hostile rhetoric and there could be a de-escalation of tensions.