Israel’s increasing sense of isolation

Joanna Paraszczuk reports: A sense of isolation prevails in Israel’s media on Wednesday — reflected in both news reporting and opinion pieces — following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Tuesday speech to the UN General Assembly.

Populist outlet Ynet and Channel 2 focus on comments made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Wednesday morning. Ya’alon spoke out in support of Netanyahu’s stance on Iran, saying that the Prime Minister had “drawn an accurate picture” of Israel’s stance on Iran and President Hassan Rouhani.

“In the UN, the Prime Minister described an accurate reality about how we see the Iranian threat, which is ongoing, even though President Rouhani spoke sweetly and Western officials prefer not to face reality with open eyes,” Ya’alon told reporters during a tour of the Golan Heights.

The Defense Minister echoed Netanyahu’s words, saying that Iran posed a terror threat in the region and beyond, “Iran carries out terror in Afghanistan, it trains and arms Hezbollah, it tries to smuggle weapons into Gaza, it is investing in infrastructure of terrorism in South America and Asia and its centrifuges continue to turn. That is why we say you have to stop the Iranian nuclear program by all means.”

Channel 2 also carries comments from Security Cabinet member and Minister Silvan Shalom, who warned that Israel stands alone.

“We are quite alone in facing the Iranian threat to destroy us,” Shalom said, adding that Rouhani is no different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

“Israel is trying to remove the mask from Rouhani’s face, he speaks sweetly and in a different way from Ahmadinejad, but he did not really no different from him. His aim is to gain more time to build a nuclear bomb, which would be an eternal insurance certificate for the ayatollahs’ regime,” Shalom added. [Continue reading…]

Setting aside for now the fact that Iran’s leaders persist in denying that the Islamic republic’s nuclear program is geared towards weapons production, Shalom’s characterization of the implications of a nuclear-armed Iran is quite revealing.

Having referred to “the Iranian threat to destroy us,” he then suggests that nuclear weapons would serve as an “eternal insurance certificate for the ayatollahs’ regime” — acknowledging that such weapons would serve Iran in exactly the same way that they serve all other nuclear powers: as the ultimate deterrent. Shalom clearly doesn’t share the view promoted by Alan Dershowitz and other members of the rabid wing of the Israel lobby: that Iran is a “suicide nation” willing to see itself destroyed by a retaliatory nuclear strike from Israel.

Moreover, to suggest that Iran’s rulers would want or need nuclear insurance is to acknowledge that an ad hoc coalition of regional powers — preeminently Israel and Saudi Arabia — remain reluctant to abandon their dreams of bringing about regime change in Tehran.

At the same time as engaging in last week’s whirlwind of diplomatic outreach, Hassan Rouhani made it very clear that he has a relatively small window of opportunity to make real progress as he faces pressure from a new axis of extremism revealing the common interests of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and the Assad regime, all of whom for their own reasons feel deeply threatened by the possibility of Iranian-U.S. rapprochement.

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