Iran’s ‘destroy Israel’ threats have got boring
Perhaps emboldened by the deal it has reached with the West on containing its nuclear programme, which it maintained was for peaceful use but which was contested by the US and others as veering towards the development of nuclear weapons, Iran has upped its belligerent ante. This is not a good sign and can result in a fresh spate of bad blood and suspicion in West Asia specifically and the world at large. In the most recent case, Iran test-fired two ballistic missiles, with “Israel must be wiped out” written all over the missiles — and in Hebrew for good measure.
Earlier, it had fired rockets and missiles despite stiff objections the US had raised, and said that nobody would be permitted to dictate terms to a sovereign country like Iran. While this is not the first instance of Tehran expressing its desire to eliminate the Jewish state, the timing is interesting. The test-firing with the objectionable message coincided with US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel and his meetings with senior Israeli Government functionaries including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Perhaps this is Iran's way of demonstrating to the world and those others that are on the same page as it is on the subject, that it has not compromised on its hope of annihilating Israel, regardless of the new, tentative relationship it is building with the West.
The sabre-rattling is futile; Israel is not going to be wiped off the world map by slogans written on Iranian military hardware — and this Iran has been doing earlier too. On the other hand, such provocative utterances serve to strengthen Israel's belief that Iran is not sincere about establishing peace in the region. Other nations that had been historically opposed to Israel's existence have over the years shed their aggression. While not all of these have become friendly to the Jewish state, they are at least not perpetually at war with it — with some, such as Egypt, Syria and Jordan even establishing decent relations with Jerusalem, although this level fluctuates over issues. But Iran continues to remain defiant, possibly because it does not know what it will do with the militant outfit, Hezbollah, which it has nurtured over the years, if it ceases to be hostile to Israel.
The brazenness this time around was such that Biden was moved to respond (though without referring to the firing of the two missiles loaded with the destruct-Israel message) that “a nuclear-armed Iran is an absolutely unacceptable threat to Israel, to the region and the United States”. It is interesting that he should equate a threat to Israel as also being a danger to the US: This shows that, regardless of the cold vibes that US President Barack Obama shares with Netanyahu for a variety of reasons, there is no way Washington, DC will stand by passively if Tehran targets Israel. It's time Iran appreciates that the call for the destruction of a nation is an uncivilised way to settle disputes. In any case, such repeated threats have become boring.
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