Genetic engineering (and Muslim religious insanity) aside, it is relatively
certain that modern man is more or less destined to approach and maximize his
existence on the planet as a single life-form unhampered
by belief systems of any kind.
Regardless of more or less excellent 'westernly education' to such knowledge,
however, instead of actually advancing such 'knowledge meliorating the human
condition', Israeli have rather, and more or less, proudly, fiercely and
eugenically, held on to 'a chosenness effectively continuing the human
August 23, 2007 Morning Edition, National public
Iran and Its Neighbors
Israel Haunted by Nuclear Threat from Iran
Anxiety about Iran hangs in the air even in the often carefree culture of Tel
Aviv's hip, secular neighborhoods. Hair salon owner Gilli Azouli says Iran and
its ally Syria dominate customer conversations, and when Azouli tells customers
about the special shelter he's building deep under his apartment building, they
snicker — at least at first.
"They start to laugh," Azouli says. "After we speak for a
couple of minutes, they don't laugh. They listen."
Azouli is convinced an Israeli war with Iran is looming.
Maybe in a month, maybe a year, he says, but it's coming.
"Syria won't mess with us. They know what we have," he says,
referring to Israel's still officially unacknowledged nuclear arsenal. But
Iran, he says, is another story.
[SOME IMAGES OMITTED]
Map of Iran
Lindsay Mangum, NPR
Iran is a Persian state in a region dominated by Arabs, and a Shia nation
surrounded largely by Sunni states.
[Fourth of a six-part series -About this Series
[Iran's leaders, both before and after the Islamic Revolution, have seen their
nation as the key regional power in the Middle East. But since the Islamic
Revolution, Iran has been consistently unable to fulfill this ambition. In this
series, NPR examines Iran and its relationship with its neighbors. Read an
overview of the series.]
"Iran is different because they're fanatics. They think the
Muslims have to rule all the world. It's a bit crazy," Azouli says.
So two and a half stories deep under the earth, Azouli is
turning the standard Israeli safe room into a customized fallout shelter to
protect his family. He's adding lead-plated walls and a state-of-the-art air
filtration system that is able, in theory, to withstand a chemical, biological
or perhaps even, he says, nuclear attack.
"Maybe it's not conventional. You cannot know what's coming.
And when it starts, they are pushing the button and we are pushing the button
and everybody gets it," he says.
Azouli is not alone. Nowhere is the alarm and concern about Iran's nuclear
program and growing regional clout more acute than in Israel. On several
occasions, Iran's Holocaust-denying leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has
publicly called for Israel to be "eliminated."
"The Iranian government is the only government around the
world that speaks explicitly about the elimination of the state of Israel. Iran
is the only government. We are worried," says Ephraim Kam, deputy director of
Israel's Institute for National Security Studies.
Israeli leaders say that, today, Iran's nuclear ambitions and
its well-armed proxies in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories pose the
biggest security threat to the Jewish state. In the last year, Beit El
Industries, the leading Israeli maker of nuclear, biological and chemical
warfare defense systems, reports a 3,000 percent increase in business. The
company's marketing director links the increase to growing concern over the
Israeli military intelligence estimates that, if left
unchecked, Iran will master the nuclear fuel cycle and begin producing nuclear
weapons in as few as three years. The United States estimates that it will take
Iran six to eight years.
Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful, energy-
generating purposes only, but Israeli officials are unconvinced that Iran and
President Ahmadinejad will prove to be rational if Tehran gets the bomb.
Shimon Peres, Israel's president and most respected elder
statesman, says that Israel must take President Ahmadinejad's bellicose
rhetoric seriously. He says Iran can be stopped through a mix of diplomacy and
tough economic sanctions – but only if the major powers are united and
"If the sanctions will be partly done or by only part of the
international community, sanctions won't succeed," Peres says. "The strength of
Iran is the division of the international community."
Peres cites North Korea and Libya as prime examples of places
where a mix of sanctions and incentives worked to halt nascent nuclear
programs, but many analysts say that Iranian political, religious and military
elites — those pushing a nuclear program the hardest — have been relatively
untouched by the first two rounds of U.N.-backed sanctions. A senior Israeli
diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, tells NPR he sees "troubling
signs of a lack of urgency by the international community," noting that the
next round of possible sanctions is unlikely to go to the U.N. Security Council
The Military Option
Israel, like the United States, says that while diplomacy is the priority, the
military option remains on the table. In 1981, Israel successfully launched a
pre-emptive air strike on Iraq's nuclear installation at Osirak, dealing a
major blow to Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions.
Targeting Iran's sites, however, would be much harder, says
Iranian-born Israeli analyst Meir Javendanfar, "because they are dispersed,
because they're in hardened shelters and because intelligence has been scarce
with regards to those sites. And also, I'm guessing here, the Iranians have
been working out a sophisticated disaster recovery system whereby if those
sites are bombed, they will use that disaster recovery system to rebuild them
Military analyst and Army reserve Col. Ephraim Kam says that
Iran would almost certainly hit back at Israeli targets and U.S interests,
either through its Lebanese and Palestinian proxies or by directly targeting
Israel's population centers with its long-range missiles.
"Iran said explicitly that if it is going to be attacked it
will respond by firing the Shihab III ballistic missiles into Israeli
territory. The range of them covers the entire territory of Israel including,
of course, Tel Aviv," he says.
Israel's "Arrow" anti-missile defense system is now
operational but untested in battle. Few believe it could stop all Iranian
Indeed, Israel had no technological solution to the Katyusha
strikes launched by Lebanese Hezbollah during last summer's war. The Shia
militia, which, by all accounts, gets significant funding, training and
hardware from Iran, used short-range rockets to effectively counteract the
Middle East's largest and best-trained army. Palestinian militant factions
Islamic Jihad and Hamas, both Sunni Arab groups, also get some funding and
support from Shia Iran, according to Israeli officials. Hamas now controls the
Gaza Strip on Israel's southern border after militarily routing its U.S.-backed
rival Fatah in June. These groups could prove a key strategic asset for Iran in
any confrontation over its nuclear program.
Dialogue and Diplomacy
With both economic sanctions and the military option uncertain and risky, some
in Israel are now calling for a third way.
Ephraim Halevy, former head of the Mossad, Israel's foreign
intelligence agency, and national security adviser to former Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon, says that Israel needs to open up a diplomatic channel, quietly,
as a vital tool to work alongside threats of force and sanctions. The former
spy chief is convinced that direct dialogue, not a long ideological struggle,
has the best chance to succeed.
"Our goal should be to prevail upon them so they realize it's
in their self-interest not to pursue their present policy," Halevy says.
But others are skeptical of a diplomatic strategy[:]
"There's nothing to talk about," says a senior Israeli diplomat who spoke on
the condition of anonymity. "The key now is for sanctions to cut to the bone …
only sanctions that target the Iranian elite will get this fighter to go down."