Professor Bernard Lewis, paramount Islamic historian and scholar, gave an interview to The Jerusalem Post that ran today. I draw here from his analysis and nuggets of information:
— As to Iran: He believes that the best way to stop them is via an overthrow of the regime, which, he says, is extremely unpopular inside the country. "I think there is a level of discontent at home, which could be exploited. I do not think it would be too difficult to bring it to the point when the regime could be overthrown." Lewis has information that Israel’s daily radio program in Persian is widely listened to in Iran and the only program that is believed.
It is his guess that the regime of Iran does not believe it will be attacked militarily. The reason why is instructive and should be attended to carefully, for it can be extrapolated to other parallel situations: "They have no experience of the functioning of a free society. The sort of self-criticism…that we see as normal is beyond their understanding…What we see as free debate, they see as weakness and division and fear….Therefore I think they have a very low estimate of the forces that oppose them."
However, even if Ahmadinejad did expect to get hit militarily, Lewis does not believe this would serve as a deterrent. During the Cold War, the concept of mutually assured destruction kept the United States and the Soviet Union from firing at each other. But for Ahmadinejad, who is a religious fanatic with a strong apocalyptic vision, this prospect of destruction of his own people could actually be an inducement. Sending everyone to kingdom-come would be seen as a good thing, and this is perhaps the most frightening aspect of the situation. Lewis’s informants are unanimous in telling him that Ahmadinejad means what he says and is not bluffing.
While he acknowledges that we might be facing a truly devastating situation, he believes that it is more likely that "sooner or later we will awake from our slumbers…"
— As to other Arab states: They are worried about a growing, expansionist, militant Shia revolution. "A number of Arab governments are coming to the conclusion that Israeli is not their most serious problem and not their greatest threat." To that end there may be some sort of rapprochement with Israel, but, cautions Lewis, while this may have "benefits, which can be quite substantial, in the short run, one should have no illusions about the long run." What there would likely be are compromises that would allow the Arab states to deal with the more pressing problems. What he is saying here does not apply to the Syrian government.
As to Europe: "Muslims," says Lewis, "seem about to take over Europe." He sees "a mood of what I can only call self-abasement on the European side — in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism, to surrender on any and every issue…[Europeans] have no respect for their own culture." In the US, the situation is somewhat different, with more Muslim acculturation into the society.
The three-day old truce between Hamas and Fatah has been broken with a major confrontation. A convoy of supplies intended for Fatah that had come through a crossing to Gaza from Israel was hijacked by Hamas gunmen. Hamas claimed that the convoy was transporting guns; Fatah said it was medical supplies. In the meantime, six people were killed, 70 wounded, and 12 kidnapped.
I don’t know if the four trucks in question held guns or supplies (though my money would be on the guns), but this incident raises another question. The Bush administration is seeking to provide money and other forms of assistance to Fatah to "strengthen" it. But will the resentment within Hamas generated by their (accurate) perception that the West is attempting to overwhelm them exacerbate the violence against Fatah?
According to Palestinian security, their forces have arrested seven Iranian agents — sent to do training — during a raid on Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold in Gaza City. Hamas denies this.
This posting can be found at: https://www.arlenefromisrael.info/current-postings/2007/2/1/posted-february-1-2007.html