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Among the many negative consequences of the Second Lebanon War in summer 2006 was the distraction it provided from Iran's nuclear program.
So focused was the international community on 34 days of fighting, and so inarticulate was Israel in explaining that it was (indecisively) confronting the Iranian takeover of southern Lebanon, that Teheran slipped gratefully into the global shadows, there to quietly advance its progress toward the bomb.
Today, there is a danger of the same process repeating itself.
Hizbullah is an Iranian creation. Hamas is not. But it has drawn itself increasingly into Iran's orbit.
Much of its imported weaponry, and the expertise with which it now produces and refines its own rockets, have been provided by Iran.
Dozens of its commanders have been trained in Iran in recent years, coming home and disseminating that "education" as Hamas has built an army in Gaza.
And, increasingly too, Hamas has come to act in the service of Iran's aims.
Many signs, even on day two of Operation "Cast Lead," suggest that Israel is trying to conduct this conflict on the basis of lessons learned from the war against Hizbullah as regards the avoidance of grandiose stated aims and the absence of boasting about the IDF's capacity to destroy its enemy.
What is not yet clear, by contrast, is whether Israel is truly intending to pursue its deceptively narrow-sounding stated goal of restoring long-term calm to the South.
This aim is actually immensely complex, given that Hamas's raison d'etre is to attack Israel and that it is thoroughly indifferent to the deaths of its own people - as exemplified by its ruthless seizure of control in the Gaza Strip 18 months ago.
Many signs, too, suggest that Israel is making an effort, albeit not wholly successful, to improve on the abject public diplomacy of the 2006 war.
What is not yet clear, by contrast, is whether the official spokespeople have internalized the necessity to highlight Iran in their message to the world - Iran, the state champion and major enabler of Hamas's terror-state in Gaza.
Iran is inspiring, funding, arming and training Hamas.
Iran is avowedly committed to Israel's destruction, and regards Hamas as a tool toward this goal.
The same Iran, via an emboldened Hizbullah, is now most of the way to achieving proxy control not merely of southern Lebanon, but all of Lebanon.
The same Iran, already armed with missiles that can reach Israel, is extending its missile range to Europe and, it hopes, ultimately to North America.
The same Iran is openly challenging not just the Middle East order but the world order, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personifying that challenge, thoroughly backed by the entire Teheran regime.
And that same Iran is moving ever closer to the nuclear capability it intends to use in the service of its goals.
The long-term deterrence of Hamas's capacity to threaten Israel would represent the long-term deterrence of one aspect of Iran's rapacious and far-reaching power drive. That's an outcome of Operation "Cast Lead" that at least part of the watching world might appreciate - if Israel can manage, first, to explain it clearly, and then to achieve it.
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