Israel can no longer deter Iran, because Iran’s leaders “don’t care about their own citizens,” former Israel Defense Minister Dr. Ephraim Sneh told a gathering of pro-Israel supporters in Washington on Tuesday.
Drawing an analogy from the second Lebanon war in the summer of 2006, Sneh reminded his audience that “half the civilian Israeli casualties were Arabs, Israeli Arabs.”
And yet, the fact that Hezbollah rocket attacks were killing fellow Muslims — whom Hezbollah had vowed to defend — meant little to the Iranian-backed militia.
“What Hezbollah said was, they declared them shahids, as martyrs,” Sneh said. “By doing so, they solved for themselves the moral problem. They killed Arabs, Muslims mainly, and they said, they are an acceptable price for hitting Israel. So take your logic, and put it aside when you are talking about irrational leadership.”
Brig. Gen. Sneh was just one of several current and former Israeli leaders who came to Washington this week, to warn about the growing threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is facing moves within his own Kadima party to remove him from office in the wake of yet another corruption scandal back home, also traveled to Washington to deliver a public warning.
Efforts by Iran to mislead the international community, including IAEA inspectors, about the status of its nuclear research and its refusal to back down despite three United Nations Security Council resolutions, made it clear that the world community must take “more robust measures” against Iran.
Failing that, “Israel will not tolerate the possibility of a nuclear Iran, and neither should any country in the free world,” Olmert said.
Sneh called Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons capability “the only red line that counts” and warned that Israel “will be compelled to take action” against Iran to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons.
He also warned against the belief, currently championed by former president Jimmy Carter, and his former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski — now a foreign policy adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama — that the United States can “negotiate” with Iran’s leaders.
Carter urged the Bush administration on Tuesday to rapidly open negotiations with Iran to impress upon them the consequences of a possible U.S. military attack on their country, because Iran’s leaders are “reasonable people” and “are not suicidal” and could be expected to back down.
Sneh swept aside negotiations as naïve and dangerously misinformed.
“If the Ayatollahs believe that the price for their aggression is 5 million Iranians dead, they will think that it is worth doing,” he said.
“You have to understand, this leadership [in Iran] is living according to a very extremist, fanatic, messianic Shiite mythology of bringing back the 12th imam. They are not thinking in the way you and I think. And for them, the destruction of the Jewish state is a target, an objective, that is worth a big sacrifice.”
Sneh is a member of the Labor Party, Olmert’s coalition party in the current government. His remarks and those of Likud Party Benjamin Netanyahu recently demonstrate strongly the consensus within the Israeli political establishment as to danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.
Appearing together with Sneh at an international conference in Herzliya, Israel last month, Netanyahu said that Iran had no fear of an Israeli counter-strike and that “nothing” would stop the Tehran regime from attacking Israel except a pre-emptive strike.
“Iran will be the first nuclear state in history against which deterrence won't work, even if the deterrent is nuclear,” Netanyahu said.
Because of the Iranian regime’s messianic policies, Israel and its allies should help the Iranian people to change the regime, Sneh told the AIPAC conference.
“The problem is not the nuclear project,” Sneh said. “The problem is the regime, the regime that is based on Islamic fascism.”
He added: “It’s the regime that should be eliminated. Who should do it? The Iranian people.”
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