Israel and Iran have what is one of the most adversarial relationships in the Middle East. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmandinejad continues to deny the existence of the Holocaust and, as all Arab countries in the Middle East, hopes for the destruction of Israel and every Jew in the world. However, Iran and Israel were not always so hostile towards one another. Prior to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the two nations shared their interests and developed relations and security alliances. The current hostility between the two nations today has not always been present. The Islamic Revolution and its regime brought a new ideology and sense of Iranian national interests. While many in Israel today, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, view Iran to be an enemy and an existential threat, this concept is not entirely true however. Given the states’ history of relations, there are potential future scenarios that would likely provide a catalyst for improving the relations between the two nations. INITIAL RELATIONS
From the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 until the Iranian Revolution and the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979, Israel and Iran maintained close ties. Iran was the second Muslim-majority country to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation after Turkey. Israel viewed Iran as a natural ally as a non-Arab power on the edge of the Arab world, in accordance with David Ben Gurion's concept of an alliance of the periphery. Israel had a permanent delegation in Tehran which served as an unofficial de facto embassy. Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion developed the Periphery Doctrine in the 1950’s based on the principle that Israel would have to establish close relations with the non-Arab countries to protect itself from hostile Arab neighbors. Through this policy, his administration also hoped to create the image of the Middle East as a multi-religious, ethnic, and cultural area, not exclusively Arab or Islamic. Iran was viewed as especially important by Israel due to its strategic location, size, and economic potential. Achieving and maintaining good relations with Iran, an ally of the United States at the time, was essential to successfully implementing this policy and countering pan-Arabism, the uniting of all the Arab states as one dominant force led by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, expansionism and Soviet influence in the Middle East. Essentially, Israel felt it necessary to balance the power of the Arab states in the Middle East with the Muslim states in the Middle East. Following the Suez War, an attack from Israel, Britain, and France on Egypt to regain Western control of the Suez Canal and to remove Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser from power, Israel was more open to a relationship with Iran. Since the Suez War did not produce permanent territory changes in the Middle East, there was a shifting in power as Israel gained more recognition and prestige globally due to its now booming economy, larger trading market, and peaceful borders with Egypt. Iran needed to develop a relationship with Israel in order to create a powerful military to rid of the Soviet influence in Iran, and to exert influence into the Persian Gulf where Tehran was to occupy islands claimed by the United Arab Emirates by large oil deposits. Israel needed this relationship more at this point in time to reduce its diplomatic isolation, strengthen Iraq’s main adversary, facilitate the rescue of Iraqi Jews, and ensure the security of Iran’s large Jewish population. Both and Iran and Israel viewed Iraq as a substantial common threat for both nations. By the 1960’s, Israel was supporting Iraqi Kurds fighting the central regime; Iran viewed the Iraqi Kurds as the Iraqi government’s greatest threat. Israel and Iran’s intelligence organizations joined forces in aiding the Kurds in their struggle against the Iraqi central government. Both Israel and Iran also both supported the United States; the Shah of Iran wanted the support...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document