Why Israel is skeptical of Iran, and America should be, too

New Hampshire Union Leader — I NEVER DO anything without keeping one eye on Iran. Admittedly, it sours the atmosphere. But you would too if you were Israeli, against whom threats from Tehran have become a matter of routine.

Take for instance Mojtaba Zolnour, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s deputy representative to the Revolutionary Guards, who was recently quoted as saying the “government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has divine permission to destroy Israel.”

Not too long ago, the Supreme Leader himself publicly laid out nine reasons why Israel should be annihilated. He proceeded to answer questions such as, “What is the proper way of eliminating Israel?” or “What is the most urgent action to take (to) militarily confront Israel?”

An article recently published in the influential Persian-language Iranian website Alef claimed that Jews are “human history’s most bloodthirsty people.” The article provided “evidence based on “historical events” drawn from some of the most infamous blood libels in Europe. Alef is owned by Ahmad Tavakkoli, a member of Iran’s parliament and cousin to the Larijani brothers: Mohammad, Secretary of Iran’s Human Rights Council, Sadeq, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Iran, and Ali, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament.

At least the Iranians are consistent.

Tehran continues to work overtime as it flexes its muscles throughout the Middle East. In Yemen, one of its ships barges into port. In Gaza, it upgrades ties with Hamas. They continue to push forward in Syria and Iraq, continue to threaten Bahrain, and continue to hold American hostages (such as Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian).

Indeed, as nuclear negotiations advance, there is no calming news about Iran. And no international body reflects this sentiment better than the United Nations.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was recently bashed by the Iranians when he dared to say: “If we have a reason to request access (to military sites), we will do so, and in principle Iran has to accept it.” A seemingly straightforward concept, yet apparently Iran refuses to appreciate. 

The U.N. Sanctions Committee reportedly found that Tehran tried to bypass international sanctions by using false documentation. This was done in an attempt to purchase compressors with nuclear use from a U.S. corporation. Thankfully the attempt was uncovered in time to prevent the sale.

Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Iran, recently condemned the sharp increase in executions within the last few weeks in the Islamic Republic. In many instances, executions have gone unreported by official sources, and the names of prisoners remain upnpublished. According to their report, the latest wave brings the total number of executions since January 1 to more than 340, including at least six political prisoners and seven women. 

The list of transgressions goes on, but a single page simply could not hold them all.

The United Nations can see that everything Tehran does runs counter to the accepted norms of international relations. The harsh truth on Iran is this: duplicity is the nature of the regime. They put on a good front when it suits them, but internally they rule with an iron fist and externally they seek to destabilize the region for their own benefit. The U.N. has realized this, just as Israel did long ago. Other governments and international organizations must come to the same realization on their own before the situation becomes dire.

Iran walks the walk when it comes to implementing its toxic ideology of hate and hegemony on the ground. Israel, routinely threatened from top to bottom by Tehran, doesn’t have the luxury of optimism. It shouldn’t be hard for our friends and allies to understand our skepticism when it comes to Iran; all they need to do is look closer at what the United Nations is experiencing regularly in this context. There is still time to strive for a better deal, but with nuclear negotiations advancing toward the June 30 deadline, an effort in this regard may unfortunately be too little too late.

Yehuda Yaakov is Consul General of Israel to New England.

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