February 7, 2014
A Better Israeli-Iranian Relationship (Paul R. Pillar | February 6, 2014, National Interest)
Posted by Orrin Judd at February 7, 2014 5:52 PMIranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview the other day, "Once the Palestinian problem is solved the conditions for an Iranian recognition of Israel will be possible." Set aside for the moment the fact that Zarif was addressing only one-half of a process and left open the question of what it would take for an Israeli recognition of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which may be the more problematic part of the equation. Note how the mere possibility of the Islamic Republic recognizing the State of Israel is a universe apart from so much of what is continually said about Iran, especially said by the government of Israel. You know--all that rhetoric about how Iran is supposedly dedicated to the destruction of Israel and so forth.They are a universe apart because the rhetoric is mistaken and Zarif's comment is an unexceptional reflection of history and of actual Iranian interests. There should be nothing surprising about his remark, and nothing surprising about it while taking it as an honest and direct expression of Iranian intentions. Amid today's rancor it is easy to forget the substantial history of Israeli-Iranian cooperation. That history included not only the time of the shah but also the early years of the Islamic republic, when Israel was providing logistical and training assistance to Iran and urging the United States to tilt toward Iran during the Iran-Iraq War.A fundamental basis for cooperation back then, as it would be now and in the future, is the status of Israel and Iran (along with Turkey) as important non-Arab states in a predominantly Arab region.