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Iran and Israel: Where does the hatred and hostility come from?

Iran and Israel: Where does the hatred and hostility come from?

The road to arch-enmity is long – Israel and Iran have covered it. Rarely have two friends drifted apart so violently. How did that happen? A Short History of Hate.

For years, anti-Semites in Tehran contented themselves with clapping whenever one or another terrorist militia threatened Israeli lives. Iran was never officially involved. The mullahs’ regime had never dared to directly attack its arch-enemy Israel. But in the Middle East you never say never.

What if Iran gets serious? What would an attack look like? How would the world react? On Saturday night last weekend it was over, the era of the subjunctive.

The massive Iranian drone and missile attack came as a surprise, but was ultimately expected and a matter of time. The latest escalation is ultimately the result of decades of barring of teeth, of hatred cultivated and state-subsidized over generations.

Iran and Israel – they were still friends when it was founded

They were not always pretty good enemies, the Jewish state and the Shiite ruling power. In fact, Iran was one of the first Muslim countries to formally recognize Israel after its founding in 1948.

For the Arab world, the birth of the Jewish state and the associated expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians was a catastrophe, a “Nakba.” Peace, let alone friendship, was impossible at the front. The young state was all the more interested in a functioning relationship with its non-Arab neighbors and neighbors. The Iranian Shah’s acceptance was life insurance, both economically and in terms of security policy. Israel gets around 40 percent of its oil from Iran. The monarch, in turn, had the Israeli spy service Mossad train his secret police.

It was a different time, a different Iran. An Iran that was closer to Coca-Cola than to Sharia. In 1979 the past took over.

From big buddy to “little Satan”

The 30-year friendship between Jerusalem and Tehran also ended with the Pahlavi dynasty. The religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini and his revolutionaries turned friends into enemies – the USA was from then on seen as a “big Satan” and Israel as a “little Satan”. Israelis were no longer allowed to enter the country, flights were canceled and the embassy was converted into a representative office for the Palestinians. Khomeini reinterpreted the Palestinian struggle from an Arab to a pan-Islamic affair – with Iran as the leading power.

It shouldn’t stay that way. From then on, Iran not only exported oil, but also the Islamic revolutionary idea. Inspired by the mullahs, Islamic Jihad was the first radical Palestinian organization to take up arms against Israel.

Although the clerical system denigrated the government in Jerusalem as a Zionist occupying regime and openly ensnared its enemies, realpolitik was not completely off the table. In the 80s the new enemies worked together. Israel even supplied Iran with missiles to support the mullahs in their war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The ex-boyfriends had become estranged from each other in a flash, but it wasn’t possible without each other.

The alliance of convenience wasn’t meant to last long. The last thread of old ties broke with the Iranian-sponsored founding of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Enemies became sworn enemies.

Stings from the penumbra – Iran’s proxy war

Thanks to the USA as Israel’s protective power, the mullahs did not dare to act out their hatred. A direct attack, it is believed, would trigger a chain reaction that could potentially cause the entire Middle East to burn.

Read in detail here who is on whose side in this all too shaky construct:

So they changed tactics in Tehran – fire and deny, was the new concept. In the decades that followed, the Revolutionary Guard – now an army within an army – invested time and, above all, money in useful camps.

The Yemeni Houthis, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian Hamas and, above all, the Lebanese Hezbollah all cook according to their recipe. In fact, Tehran has become a master of taunts. The regime repeatedly tests the strength of Israeli and therefore also American patience with covert operations or organized financing of terrorist groups from the penumbra.

Beyond the limits of what can be said and thought

Similar to the chicken-and-egg problem, Israel and Iran are caught in an action-reaction spiral. It is a dispute that has taken on a life of its own, a dispute in which threats have degenerated into the only common language.

Those in power in Tehran have long left the limits of what can be said behind them. Railing against the “Zionist regime”, denying the Holocaust or threatening the state of Israel with complete destruction is working dialect at management level. The more aggressively the mullahs pursued their anti-Israel policy, the more they maneuvered their country into the sidelines. The result is a bitter paradox: the more passionate the hate, the stronger the isolation – the stronger the isolation, the more passionate the hate.

But now Israel finds itself in a dangerous situation. The war against Hamas is not only costing Jerusalem enormous resources, but also increasingly the support of its allies. That gave Tehran leeway. All that was missing was an opportunity to justify it. That was supposed to come on April 1st with the attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus. The rest is history. The question is whether Israel is now starting the next chapter or turning the page.

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Source: Stern

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