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  • "Iran is Israel's best friend,

  • and we do not intend to change our position

  • in relation to Tehran."

  • Believe it or not, this is a quote

  • from an Israeli prime minister,

  • but it's not Ben-Gurion or Golda Meir

  • from the era of the Shah.

  • It's actually from Yitzhak Rabin.

  • The year is 1987.

  • Ayatollah Khomeini is still alive,

  • and much like Ahmadinejad today,

  • he's using the worst rhetoric against Israel.

  • Yet, Rabin referred to Iran

  • as a geostrategic friend.

  • Today, when we hear the threats of war

  • and the high rhetoric,

  • we're oftentimes led to believe

  • that this is yet another one of those unsolvable

  • Middle Eastern conflicts

  • with roots as old as the region itself.

  • Nothing could be further from the truth,

  • and I hope today to show you why that is.

  • The relations between the Iranian and the Jewish people

  • throughout history has actually been quite positive,

  • starting in 539 B.C.,

  • when King Cyrus the Great of Persia

  • liberated the Jewish people from their Babylonian captivity.

  • A third of the Jewish population

  • stayed in Babylonia.

  • They're today's Iraqi Jews.

  • A third migrated to Persia.

  • They're today's Iranian Jews,

  • still 25,000 of them living in Iran,

  • making them the largest Jewish community

  • in the Middle East outside of Israel itself.

  • And a third returned to historic Palestine,

  • did the second rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem,

  • financed, incidentally, by Persian tax money.

  • But even in modern times,

  • relations have been close at times.

  • Rabin's statement was a reflection

  • of decades of security and intelligence collaboration

  • between the two, which in turn

  • was born out of perception of common threats.

  • Both states feared the Soviet Union

  • and strong Arab states such as Egypt and Iraq.

  • And, in addition, the Israeli doctrine of the periphery,

  • the idea that Israel's security was best achieved

  • by creating alliances with the non-Arab states

  • in the periphery of the region

  • in order to balance the Arab states in its vicinity.

  • Now, from the Shah's perspective, though,

  • he wanted to keep this as secret as possible,

  • so when Yitzhak Rabin, for instance,

  • traveled to Iran in the '70s,

  • he usually wore a wig

  • so that no one would recognize him.

  • The Iranians built a special tarmac

  • at the airport in Tehran, far away from the central terminal,

  • so that no one would notice the large number

  • of Israeli planes shuttling between Tel Aviv and Tehran.

  • Now, did all of this end with the Islamic revolution

  • in 1979?

  • In spite of the very clear anti-Israeli ideology

  • of the new regime, the geopolitical logic

  • for their collaboration lived on,

  • because they still had common threats.

  • And when Iraq invaded Iran in 1980,

  • Israel feared an Iraqi victory

  • and actively helped Iran by selling it arms

  • and providing it with spare parts

  • for Iran's American weaponry

  • at a moment when Iran was very vulnerable

  • because of an American arms embargo

  • that Israel was more than happy to violate.

  • In fact, back in the 1980s,

  • it was Israel that lobbied Washington

  • to talk to Iran, to sell arms to Iran,

  • and not pay attention to Iran's anti-Israeli ideology.

  • And this, of course, climaxed

  • in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s.

  • But with the end of the Cold War

  • came also the end of the Israeli-Iranian cold peace.

  • Suddenly, the two common threats

  • that had pushed them closer together throughout decades,

  • more or less evaporated.

  • The Soviet Union collapsed,

  • Iraq was defeated,

  • and a new environment was created in the region

  • in which both of them felt more secure,

  • but they were also now left unchecked.

  • Without Iraq balancing Iran,

  • Iran could now become a threat,

  • some in Israel argued.

  • In fact, the current dynamic

  • that you see between Iran and Israel

  • has its roots more so

  • in the geopolitical reconfiguration of the region

  • after the Cold War

  • than in the events of 1979,

  • because at this point, Iran and Israel

  • emerge as two of the most powerful states in the region,

  • and rather than viewing each other

  • as potential security partners,

  • they increasingly came to view each other

  • as rivals and competitors.

  • So Israel, who in the 1980s

  • lobbied for and improved U.S.-Iran relations

  • now feared a U.S.-Iran rapprochement,

  • thinking that it would come

  • at Israel's security interests' expense,

  • and instead sought to put Iran

  • in increased isolation.

  • Ironically, this was happening at a time

  • when Iran was more interested

  • in peacemaking with Washington

  • than to see to Israel's destruction.

  • Iran had put itself in isolation

  • because of its radicalism,

  • and after having helped the United States indirectly

  • in the war against Iraq in 1991,

  • the Iranians were hoping

  • that they would be rewarded by being included

  • in the post-war security architecture of the region.

  • But Washington chose to ignore Iran's outreach,

  • as it would a decade later in Afghanistan,

  • and instead moved to intensify Iran's isolation,

  • and it is at this point, around 1993, '94,

  • that Iran begins to translate

  • its anti-Israeli ideology

  • into operational policy.

  • The Iranians believed that whatever they did,

  • even if they moderated their policies,

  • the U.S. would continue to seek Iran's isolation,

  • and the only way Iran could compel Washington

  • to change its position was by imposing a cost

  • on the U.S. if it didn't.

  • The easiest target was the peace process,

  • and now the Iranian ideological bark

  • was to be accompanied by a nonconventional bite,

  • and Iran began supporting extensively

  • Palestinian Islamist groups that it previously

  • had shunned.

  • In some ways, this sounds paradoxical,

  • but according to Martin Indyk

  • of the Clinton administration,

  • the Iranians had not gotten it entirely wrong,

  • because the more peace there would be

  • between Israel and Palestine,

  • the U.S. believed, the more Iran would get isolated.

  • The more Iran got isolated, the more peace there would be.

  • So according to Indyk, and these are his words,

  • the Iranians had an interest to do us in

  • on the peace process

  • in order to defeat our policy of containment.

  • To defeat our policy of containment,

  • not about ideology.

  • But throughout even the worst times of their entanglement,

  • all sides have reached out to each other.

  • Netanyahu, when he got elected in 1996,

  • reached out to the Iranians to see

  • if there were any ways that

  • the doctrine of the periphery could be resurrected.

  • Tehran was not interested.

  • A few years later, the Iranians sent

  • a comprehensive negotiation proposal to the Bush administration,

  • a proposal that revealed that there was some potential

  • of getting Iran and Israel back on terms again.

  • The Bush administration did not even respond.

  • All sides have never missed an opportunity

  • to miss an opportunity.

  • But this is not an ancient conflict.

  • This is not even an ideological conflict.

  • The ebbs and flows of hostility

  • have not shifted with ideological zeal,

  • but rather with changes in the geopolitical landscape.

  • When Iran and Israel's security imperatives

  • dictated collaboration, they did so

  • in spite of lethal ideological opposition to each other.

  • When Iran's ideological impulses collided

  • with its strategic interests,

  • the strategic interests always prevailed.

  • This is good news, because it means

  • that neither war nor enmity

  • is a foregone conclusion.

  • But some want war.

  • Some believe or say that it's 1938,

  • Iran is Germany,

  • and Ahmadinejad is Hitler.

  • If we accept this to be true,

  • that indeed it is 1938, Iran is Germany,

  • Ahmadinejad is Hitler,

  • then the question we have to ask ourself is,

  • who wishes to play the role of Neville Chamberlain?

  • Who will risk peace?

  • This is an analogy that is deliberately aimed

  • at eliminating diplomacy,

  • and when you eliminate diplomacy,

  • you make war inevitable.

  • In an ideological conflict, there can be no truce,

  • no draw, no compromise,

  • only victory or defeat.

  • But rather than making war inevitable

  • by viewing this as ideological,

  • we would be wise to seek ways

  • to make peace possible.

  • Iran and Israel's conflict is a new phenomenon,

  • only a few decades old

  • in a history of 2,500 years,

  • and precisely because its roots are geopolitical,

  • it means that solutions can be found,

  • compromises can be struck,

  • however difficult it yet may be.

  • After all, it was Yitzhak Rabin himself who said,

  • "You don't make peace with your friends.

  • You make it with your enemies."

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

"Iran is Israel's best friend,

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B1 US TED iran israel israeli peace tehran

【TED】Trita Parsi: Iran and Israel: Peace is possible (Trita Parsi: Iran and Israel: Peace is possible)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2017/04/27
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