Alarm Over Iran's Threats No Exaggeration, Israeli Experts Say

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:17 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Israeli leaders' strongly worded remarks about the threats posed by Iran are on the mark, an Iranian expert here said.

The comments were not exaggerated, he said. The regime in Tehran does want to destroy Israel and does want to see an Islamic conquest of the West.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that the world had reached "the pivotal moment of truth" in dealing with Iran.

"No longer can the international community afford to hesitate, contemplate or waver in its dealing with this defiant state," Olmert told a meeting of Jewish leaders in Los Angeles.

"We will not tolerate those who challenge Israel's right to exist while actively seeking to develop the catastrophic weapons to fulfill their goals," he said.

Israeli opposition Likud Party leader Binyamin Netanyahu this week also raised the alarm about Iran, comparing it to Nazi Germany in 1938.

"When someone tells you he is going to exterminate you, believe him and stop him," Netanyahu was quoted as telling the Jewish leaders' meeting in L.A.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for Israel's destruction and has described the Holocaust as a "myth."

Western security agencies believe he is pressing ahead with attempts to covertly obtain nuclear weapons. Iran says it won't back down from its nuclear program, which it says is purely civilian in nature.

Adding to concerns in Israel and elsewhere, Tehran has also publicly displayed missiles capable of reaching Europe and eventually the U.S.

Israeli expert on Iran Menashe Amir said that the comments about Tehran and Ahmadinejad were not exaggerated because the Iranian regime "decisively wants to destroy Israel."

The Iranian-born analyst told Cybercast News Service that Iran's leaders regard Judaism and Christianity as religions to be conquered by Islam.

Asked why Iran had not attempted to destroy Israel already if it really intended to do so, Amir, who heads the Persian language broadcast department of Israel's state-run radio, said that Tehran did not yet possess the capability.

Rather than carry out a "direct attack" against Israel, Iran wanted to foment an uprising in the Islamic world - a drive including Hizballah and Palestinian organizations - that would bring about the collapse of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic state, he said.

Amir said although one could not rule out the possibility that Iran, once it had developed an atomic bomb, would use it, he did not think it would do so immediately.

"They want to have it as deterrence and [an] insurance policy," he added.

Dr. Robert Rozett, director of the libraries at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, agreed that the threat from Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime should be taken seriously.

"The threat is the most serious genocidal threat to the Jewish people ... since the end of the Nazi period," Rozett said in an interview.

Rozett said Yad Vashem was very sensitive about comparing modern day events to the Holocaust for "rhetorical purposes." But there were times, he said, when it was reasonable to do so.

While Ahmadinejad was not Hitler and the situation in Iran and in Nazi Germany could not be equated, there were commonalities.

Both leaders threatening Jews were heads of their respective governments. Hitler attempted to wipe out the Jews, while Ahmadinejad was threatening the Jewish state.

Hitler's threat went beyond the Jewish people, and if Iran obtained nuclear weapons, the threat it posed would go beyond Israel, said Rozett.


Ahmadinejad pledged this week to install 60,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium and said his country would be soon celebrating Iran's full nuclearization.

Amir said the international community was paying insufficient attention to what Ahmadinejad says about the nuclear program.

The U.N. Security Council has threatened sanctions against Iran after it ignored an Aug. 31 deadline to stop enriching uranium but has yet to take any further action.

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