Israel and Iran

Over the course of the last year one thing occurred frequently that surprised me. I met former Israelis who had left Israel for Canada and America. Every single one of them said they had left for two main reasons: the country is losing it’s secular roots and they were all sick of the war against the Palestinians–some blamed recalcitrance on the Palestinians and others blamed Israel itself. I met at least a dozen such people on my trip. That may not seem like a lot, but think about it this way: what is the population of Israel? It isn’t high. Still, it’s not a scientific sample. And yet, I was struck by this comment in Roger Cohen’s piece on Iran about what Israel’s real red line is:

Israel, which sees an existential threat in a nuclear Iran, has made clear that its patience is limited. The Ross team does not think Israelis are bluffing. They believe Israel views Iran in life-and-death terms. Israeli officials have argued that they don’t believe Iran would ever be crazy enough to nuke them but do believe the change in the balance of power with a nuclear or near-nuclear Iran could be so decisive that Jews would begin to leave Israel.

Cohen’s line says a lot.

One of my biggest regrets over the course of the last year was not being able to return to Iran. I did try, but the being an American, one is required to have a Ministry approved tour-guide with you at all times. This was not prohibitively expensive when I traveled there in 2006 with my father. It’s less costly to split the price for two than it is one. And so I was unable to return. My friends in Meshed and Tehran are fairly involved in the protests, or so at least they email me on a regular basis. I wish I were there to see it all first hand. I can only relate how serious about reform they were when I met them in 2006. I can only imagine it is more urgent now.

Another one of my regrets was missing Israel. I do have a standing invitation from friends in Tel Aviv and I hope to visit in October for my birthday. We shall see.

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