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Iran and Israel: Peas in a pod?

As you read this piece "Iran and Israel are similar, after all" from Haaretz - a liberal daily newspaper with a tie-in to the IHT - remember it was written in Israel.

"Iran and Israel are more similar than either of their regimes would be willing to admit. They are similar historically, similar in their tension between religious extremism and freedom, similar in their dramatic struggles between the public’s desire for change and the opposition of calcified elements of the regime.

Those who seek to belittle what happened in the Iranian election are trying to hide the sun with their hands. Whatever happens in the future, the fact that a sweeping majority voted for change, and that the regime didn’t play games with the results, is significant. Those who try to claim there’s a formal, deterministic answer to the question of who makes the decisions don’t know what they’re talking about. In the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is formally the one who decides, but in reality, party chairman Aryeh Deri has often been the decision maker. In Israel, the cabinet and the prime and defense ministers are formally the ones who decide whether to go to war, but in reality, when all the heads of the security services are opposed − for instance, to attacking Iran − this matters.

In Iran, too, despite the formal structure, outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad carried weight, and he and his messianic cult even came close to taking over the entire government. It’s true that Hasan Rowhani’s election as his successor raises the chances of Iran going nuclear, but it delays the process and creates a good chance of a moderating change in the regime.

And we mustn’t get confused: The danger lies in the combination of messianic extremism and nuclear arms. An Islamic state that contains extremist elements, proliferates nuclear know-how and has dozens of nuclear bombs isn’t a future catastrophe, but something that already exists. It’s called Pakistan. And Israel didn’t attack it."

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