The future of bilateral Iran-Israel relations

Both Iran and Israel have never been so aware as they are today of the positive and beneficial consequences of a close relationship and historic friendship.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad unveils long-range drone 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)
Iranian President Ahmadinejad unveils long-range drone 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer Iran)
Iran and Israel can boast a unique and exceptional socio-historic and cultural relationship going back over 2,500 years, and many Iranians and Israelis believe that this very rich common background is capable of changing the face of the Middle East in the first decades of the 21st century, and also of changing the political atmosphere in the future to the benefit of both nations – and this in spite of the terrorist atrocities we have suffered in the first 12 years of the new millennium.
Rev. Thomas Hyde, in his remarkable work Veterum Persarum et Parthorum et Medorum Religionis Historia (1700), asked his readers the following question: “How did God choose among all the nations the Iranians and gave them the privilege of having Zoroaster?” His answer: “Because they were a monotheistic people like the Jews and they know that there is only one God and no more.”
Who is acting against this statement? The Shi’ite clergy leaders in Iran who imprisoned lawyer Mehr-Angiz Kar because she participated in last year’s Berlin Conference on the future of Iran. She is fearfully awaiting the same destiny as her Iranian-Canadian colleague Ziba Kazemi, who was killed by them.
Mehr-Angiz stated, “Shi’ite extremists, like the fathers of the Islamic Revolution, want to destroy their moderate children who are convinced that their fathers are acting wrongly with their harsh behavior.” For example, the second most powerful man among them, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, once said, “Only one nuclear bomb will destroy all Israel, while theirs can damage just a part of our country!” Moshe Ya’alon, then-chief of staff, retorted, “If the West cannot stop the Islamic Republic’s ability to obtain nuclear weapons we must have a reasonable solution for our defense.”
And The Washington Post commented: “If the West does not react quickly, they will be facing a big problem. The centrifuge system for enrichment of uranium in the Natanz Nuclear Center has already started to function.”
The West is certainly motivated to stop international terrorism and the Shi’ite clergy in Iran pose the major threat to the Western world.
The burning desire for peace among many in the Middle East is threatened by groups of terrorists doing their utmost to undermine peace.
Iran as a key country can play an important role, but under which leadership? Sooner or later the Shi’ite clergy and their evil ideas will be swept away by a younger generation of Iranians. The foundations for the strong intercultural bridge between Iran and Israel must be laid as soon as possible because change in Iran is very close.
The strong and rich relationship between Iran and Israel goes back to ancient times, to the era of King Cyrus (Iranian Zoroastrian ruler 559-530 BCE), who allowed the Jews to return home to build the Temple. There are several warm mentions in the Bible with respect to Cyrus and the Iranians (in Isaiah, Daniel and Chronicles). Many distinguished Iranian scholars assert that only the Iranian Jewish communities cared for and cherished the pre- Islamic Iranian culture and language.
In brief, we can express this historic relationship in a nutshell and say, “If the Jews had not been in Iran we would not be aware of our background, and if the warm feelings of Iranians for the Jews had not existed, the destiny of God’s Chosen People may well have been different.”
Many scholars believe in the deep relationship between Iranian and Jewish literature.
Elkan Nathan Adler and Wilhelm Bacher were two of the most famous who were working among the Iranian Jewish communities in Central Asia in the late 19th century.
The relationship between the Iranian and Jewish communities of Israel which existed during the era of the Achmenids (529-330 BCE) was further enhanced in the Ashkanian period (247 BCE – 226 CE) who together fought to resist the Greek invaders (in cooperation with the Hasmoneans). During the Sassanid dynasty (226-641 CE) the Jewish universities of Sura and Pumpedita were extremely distinguished.
After the Arab-Islamic invasion (638 CE) the situation changed, but there were several outstanding examples like the medieval Jewish army commanders Rashid-al-Din Fazl-Allah, Sa’ad al- Dowleh, Shams al-Dowleh and many others.
Prior to the Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1979) the relationship between the Iranian and the Jewish communities was not so good, but a real transformation took place during this period. Official and formal diplomatic ties between the two countries began in 1950 and ushered in a fruitful period of cooperation and development. In January 1979 the new rulers kicked out the Angel of Freedom, whereas 50 million young Iranians want to bring her back to the country.
THE MOST optimistic do not believe that the weak feet of the Shi’ite Islamic regime in Iran can continue to support its heavy body for much longer. Soon we will witness the international mass media full of news about how the regime collapsed.
The regime cannot resist determined action by the Western powers and the strong pressures exerted against it with regard to its nuclear projects aimed at filling their arsenals with nuclear and unconventional weapons. Javier Solana, the representative of the European Parliament, during his recent visit to Iran, told them: “If you do not unconditionally sign the International Protocol of Non-Proliferation you will hear bad news.”
Moreover, the West’s anti-terrorist policy will not allow the biggest international terrorist center to continue its bloody training, propaganda and arms production programs. Besides these major problems the regime faces the following obstacles:
• Its opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; • Its continued sponsorship and cooperation with al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad etc.; • Ignoring basic human rights of Iranian citizens and increasing their systematic violation; In addition there are many other complex problems surrounding the regime, such as: • A big hole in the economy of the regime, with the result that it is firmly stuck in the mud and stagnating; • Over 95 percent of the total population is dissatisfied with the government and this statistic is increasing daily; • The major center of power is disintegrating, the various government bodies are in conflict and divided, and simultaneously general hopelessness and despair are rapidly developing; • The regime has no proper program against unemployment, which is over 40%, controlling prices, drug abuse (over 15% of the population), corruption and social conflict; • The regime’s aggressive reaction toward the widespread internal and external opposition, including imprisonment, torture, official and unofficial execution of men and women, is daily being reduced, and its most loyal agents are fleeing; • A large majority of Iranians, both inside and outside the country, do not believe and certainly do not trust the Shi’ite clergy leaders. They consider them to be evil, professional liars, absolute enemies and totally destructive of Iran’s national dignity, and a potential danger for the future of Iran and the world.
The more the regime intensifies its anti-Western and anti-Israel propaganda, so the Iranian people are becoming more pro-Western and pro-Israel. They are deeply convinced that whatever they hear from the regime’s representatives, they should interpret as the opposite.
Consequently, pro-Western ideas and respect and admiration for Israel are growing daily in the hearts of the people. Their daily actions, communications with external mass media, written material by journalists or student slogans speak for themselves.
Many Iranians are opening their eyes and minds and criticizing the regime. They are proud to be the friend of the only democracy in the Middle East and they want to clearly and openly declare their deep relationship with their twin sister in the area, a relationship based on the history of the two nations.
Israel can become a strong and capable friend of Iran in the future, by just using a wise strategy. The millions of dollars paid by the Shi’ite leaders to various terrorist organizations in Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Sudan and Afghanistan, for the purpose of killing as many Israelis as possible, is clearly understood to be a stupid and irrelevant effort to develop hate and revenge by civilized Iranians.
The cruel and senseless acts of murder by Shi’ite terrorists and those sponsored financially by the Shi’ite regime with the aim of weakening democracy in Israel, and to express their fierce hatred, cause almost as much grief to Iranians as to the Israeli parents and children who weep for their lost loved ones. This is why both nations recognize that their common enemy are the Shi’ite clergy leaders, who must be stopped.
IRAN, AS one of the largest countries in the Middle East, with a population of 75 million, has the potential to be one of Israel’s best friends in the world. Such a bilateral friendship could greatly benefit both sides, and together with the warm relations with Turkey and Central Asian countries, it would certainly transform the current ugly political situation in the region.
In the future Iran can be responsive to many of Israel’s desires and needs, such as oil and many other mineral resources. Iran’s prominent position in OPEC and other international bodies will of course make it a serious supporter of Israeli foreign policy. The future Iranian generation’s appetite for peace is stronger than its appetite for war. In a calm atmosphere without any regional tension Iran will certainly open its gates to Israeli expertise in the oil field and other technical areas to benefit from its know-how and cooperation.
The dark days of the Shi’ite leaders in Iran will soon be ended and a brilliant new day will dawn. When that day comes the Iranian courts will try the Shi’ite cases of corruption and shed light on the ugly anti-humanitarian policy they pursued.
The Westerners who are seeking peace in the Middle East do not realize (or perhaps they do but try to show that they do not) that so long as the Shi’ite regime is alive in Iran the concept of peace will remain a puppet in the hands of terrorists (Iraq is a good example of this).
As long as the Shi’ite Islamic Revolution’s dragon exists in Tehran the venomous snakes will continue biting here and there. This evil dragon will fall either by itself or through some other operation against it, but nobody in the future will be able to tame the worst enemy of Israel better than the civilized Iranians who know Shi’ism better than everybody else, because for long centuries they have been suffering from this same poison.
GLOBAL COOPERATION and a harmonious relationship between Iran and Israel will transform the market on both sides. The beneficiaries of such a transformation will be not only big business and corporations, but also ordinary people in both countries. Statistics and research will show how commercial development (technology imported from Israel to Iran) will rapidly change the face of Iranian society.
The markets in Iran are specially thirsting for new hi-tech computers, and aviation will give a tremendous impetus to Israeli manufacture and production. Jewish businessmen and companies in the West will also be encouraged to do their share in meeting Iran’s technological needs.
Teams of Israeli experts will come to Iran to help the local people manufacture, renovate and rebuild all of Iran’s rotting and ruined machinery. There is a tremendous variety of needs to be addressed, from education, banking, military and security to commercial, industry, agriculture and farming, from food to medicine, research, university and sport.
Iranians still enthusiastically recall the north city of Ghazvin, which was completely demolished by an earthquake in 1963 and rebuilt by Israeli experts. Such experiences will help people on both sides. The powerful standing of Israel in the international mass media will help the Iranian people to cleanse the harshly negative reputation gained during the Shi’ite Islamic Revolution years.
The relationship with Israel will also provide new avenues for marketing Iranian oil, and Israeli technicians will be most welcome to help solve the great problems in Iran such as gas and water pipelines, telephone communication, electricity, dams, roads, transport and numerous other neglected or undeveloped projects.
IT IS the author’s sincere view, based on his personal, social and academic experience, that those who wish for a secure future for both nations in a prosperous and peaceful Middle East have no option but to welcome and foster close ties between the two nations. Such a desire is not an empty hope but could be a practical path leading to a brighter world.
Iranians will welcome and be proud of a strong relationship with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and one of the world leaders in hi-tech, medical science and agricultural production. Conversely, to have a strong friend and ally in the region with the richest oil and mineral resources and an open-handed government and open-minded population will represent a great opportunity for Israel.
Such an ambition is easily expandable to the Central Asian countries, as well as Turkey and India. Why India? Parsees in India are the Iranians who left Iran 14 centuries ago after the Arab Muslim invasion of Iran. They are now among the most aristocratic and upper class of Indian society and administration. A large group of Iranian intellectuals (both inside and outside the country) are working to enable the Parsees in exile to return to their old home, just as the Jewish communities after 2,000 years came back home from the Diaspora.
The strong future relationship between Iran and Israel will fill in the 14-centuries-deep chasm as well as the past 34 years’ small crack on the surface of this relationship, which is based on 2,500 years of common destiny and similar history.
There is a huge feeling among the Iranian middle class, and especially among the masses of the younger generation and students, of hatred for the Shi’ite ideology that presents Iran as a nation of bloodthirsty terrorists. They are convinced that a far-reaching reformation in the body of Shi’ism, when supported by millions of Iranians, will not only win the approval of the international Judeo-Christian communities but also the favor of over a billion Sunnis throughout the world.
They wish to stop the Shi’ite-Sunni conflict that has riven Islamic society, and especially when they consider Shi’ism to be an anti-Islamic sect. During the past 14 centuries they called the Shi’ites “kafars,” meaning non- Muslim, unclean, non-believers, and Iranian reformists are in total agreement with Sunni anti-Shi’ite statements, and for the first time in 14 centuries wish to tell them: Honestly, you are right, only you are Muslim and not us.
Finally, after 14 centuries, a group of modern-day Shi’ites have realized that their forefathers were mistaken in splitting Islam in two (because they were angered by the Arab-Muslim invasion and had no other option). It will probably be very hard to effect such a reformation in Iran but, at the same time, they all sincerely support a strong relationship between Iran and Israel.
A GROUP of Iranian intellectuals, who initially supported the Shi’ite Islamic Revolution in Iran, have now come to regret their mistake and their support of Shi’ism, an anti-Western, alien, harsh and non-domestic ideology. The source of this mistake must be traced back 14 centuries to when a group of Iranian opportunists termed the monotheistic religion of Cyrus “fire-worship.” They came to regard the Renaissance and the Christian Reformation, and subsequently Zionist nationalism, as being fundamentally anti-Shi’ite.
As much as Western Judeo-Christianity was developing the values of liberal democracy and technology, so the Shi’ite community became more and more stagnated in its errors. The past unhappy 34 years have made them aware of the dark influence of the past 14 centuries and they now absolutely regret them.
Those who claim that secularism is the right path for the future Iran are also making a mistake, because during the 57 years of the Pahlavi regime, especially during the reign of Reza Shah (1925-1945), Iran was more or less practicing a kind of secularism.
But, as we saw, Shi’ism was hiding itself only to awaken at the appropriate time to destroy the nation. This is why we believe that the basic idea of Shi’ism must be democratically reformed. And that such a reformation will transform the basis of Iranian society, enabling the values of secularism to be implemented with the concomitant reformation of the relationship between Iran and Israel.
For the past two centuries Westerners have been the avant-garde of liberty and social freedom, but at the same time they are also the slaves of their benefits. Iran has no option but to have a global relationship with the West. A strong relationship with Israel will benefit Iran in two ways. On the one hand Israel is a clear symbol of the West, with high ability, and on the other hand is full of warm Eastern mentality. In addition Israel has a deep historical and cultural affiliation with Iran. To cement this future wide-ranging relationship, we propose:
• A new bilateral legal system in both countries, based on solidarity, ancient historical friendship and a productive global relationship (political, economic, social, cultural, military, security), and answering the requirements of the 21st century; • Developing university-standard visits and research, educational exchanges, bilateral scholarships at different levels, according to the priorities and requirements of both countries; • Increased collaboration in journalism and the mass media, including regular organized meetings; • Bilateral development of artistic, sport, tourist and other social events. The holding of seminars, conferences and exhibitions in the spheres of culture, industry and agriculture and inventions, with the aim of improving the knowledge of the nations about each other; • Development of marketing on both sides for commerce and trade in the private and public sectors. Minimizing the bureaucratic complications and maximizing the facilities in customs, taxes, insurance and transport; • Consolidating cooperation between Iran and Israel in the areas of police, army and security, including mutual research and exchanges in this area.
Both nations, the Iranians in particular, have never been so aware as they are today of the positive and beneficial consequences of their close relationship and historic friendship, but there are still many who must be made aware of it. Experience has shown that the Israeli army is one of the best in the world in the conventional battlefield, but what can this powerful army do against groups of invisible terrorists? The Iranians might be able to provide a suitable and tangible answer to this question.
Dr. Daniel Dana was born in 1945 in Tehran into a Shi’ite family. He was sentenced to death in absentia for his anti-Islamic Republic activities, but returned to Iran in 1986. In 1989 he left Iran and converted to Christianity. Among his literary works are a study of Shi’ite theology, a history of the Baha’is in Iran, and a history of the Shirazi Jewish community. He travels widely promoting the message of Israel and Zionism.