On Thursday evening, Reuven Rivlin was sworn in as Israel’s 10th president. Due to incessant rocket fire into Israel and the war going on in Gaza, the event was held without the customary fanfare.
A somber, modest ceremony took place at the Knesset, in the presence of the upper echelons of Israeli society from across the political spectrum.
Conspicuously absent from the proceedings were the Arab members of Knesset. As they have shown in word and deed, the sympathies of these particular democratically elected officials do not lie with the country of their citizenship. And their boycott of the changing of the guard of the presidency was a statement of their identification with the enemies of their state.
Someone else who expressed solidarity with the terrorists in Gaza this week was Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. On Wednesday, the chief mullah whose government funds and arms the terrorists in Gaza called on the Palestinians to remain steadfast in their fight to destroy Israel.
“The only way to deal with this savage regime is to continue resistance and armed struggle,” he said in an address to students in Teheran. “We believe that the West Bank should also be armed like Gaza and those who are interested in Palestine’s destiny should act in this regard.”
Nor was he paying mere lip service.
On Thursday, the Bazaaris’ Basij (a militia connected to the Revolutionary Guards) opened a bank account precisely for this purpose, inviting donations for the cause of supplying West Bank terrorists with weapons.
Khamenei has good reason to be optimistic, well beyond the violent Palestinian protests that began at the Qalandia checkpoint Thursday night – and which appear to be the start of a third intifada. Such incidents are small fry compared to the global goings-on that are working in his favor.
Last week, Iran received an extension from the P1+5 countries (the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany) to reach an agreement that would curb its nuclear program. The original deadline was July 20. Now the Islamic Republic has until November 24 to continue pulling the wool over the eyes of West, while its centrifuges spin unhindered.
In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a Palestinian-drafted resolution against Israel, strongly condemning “the failure of Israel, the occupying Power, to end its prolonged occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; and condemns in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 13 June 2014 that may amount to international crimes...”
This came on the heels of Tuesday evening’s ban on the bulk of international flights to and from Israel, following the landing of a rocket not far from Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Meanwhile, as part of the easing on sanctions against Iran, Boeing has sealed a deal to provide the Islamic Republic’s national carrier, Iran Air, with goods and services related to flight “safety.” These include airplane parts, manuals, drawings, service bulletins, navigation charts and data.
In addition, India – among other of Israel’s allies that supported the anti-Israel UNHRC resolution – paid a final installment of $550 million in oil revenues to Iran on Thursday.
In the background is the reconciliation between Hamas (predominantly Sunni) and Hezbollah (mostly Shi’ite) that has been taking place to “confront the Zionist enemy.” Though the two terrorist organizations had a major split over the conflict in Syria – with Hamas opposing the regime of President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah loyal to it – Israel’s launching of Operation Protective Edge this month has brought the two together again.
What both groups have always had in common is backing by Iran, which views them as its proxies in the war to annihilate Israel and dominate the West. For Iran, having Hamas blitzing Israel from the south, and Hezbollah waiting in the wings to enter the fray from the north, couldn’t be better. When added to the mix is the solidarity of Israeli Arab politicians with the radical elements of the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, the Iranian leadership (including misnamed “moderate” President Hasan Rouhani) is satisfied with the unfolding of its envisioned scenario.
In his inauguration speech, Rivlin “deliver[ed] a clear message to our enemies: You cannot and will not defeat us. We are determined to protect the pillars of our polity, as well as the character of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, even in time of war against terror....Terror will not cause us to withdraw; it will not weaken our spirit.”
The newly instated president was referring to Gaza.
But what he and the rest of the West must not lose sight of for even a nanosecond, regardless of the results of the current war, is Iran.
The writer is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’