Devon Profile picture
11 Jun, 73 tweets, 12 min read
THREAD: Iran's Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict…

When the latest round of conflict between Israel and Gaza broke out, I was eager to hear the opinion of my friend who spent years as part of the security infrastructure in Israel.
Given only that information, it would be easy to make assumptions about his policy positions regarding the Palestinian territories, but you would most likely misjudge him. His opinions are hardly standard Zionist fare, and he defies political categories.
He regularly says things like Israel should give up Jerusalem and has rather unorthodox (no pun intended) ideas about dividing up the Jewish state and a coming decisive conflict.
(He doesn’t believe the Bible, but he believes the Bible’s prophetic account of the battle of Gog and Magog, a final war beginning with an attack from Israel’s north.) His political takes are never what you would expect and are guaranteed to make you think.
As a group of us sat down for coffee after a workout, I immediately turned to him and asked, “So, what do you think?” There was no need to be more specific than that—everyone knew what I was talking about:
the unrest on the Temple Mount, the Al-Aqsa complex, Sheikh Jarrah, Jewish-Arab violence within Israel, rockets, airstrikes, Iran, Hezbollah, Netanyahu, Hamas, Biden—the list goes on and on.
Before he could answer, people at the table began to chime in, “Did you hear about this lynching in Lod? The child who died? The number of rockets?
The Iranian militia in Syria?” Everyone at that table had been in the army, and most carried visible trauma, hyper-vigilant as news became grimmer and grimmer. My friend interrupted them to say:
“We can look at this two ways. Either we take each incident on its own, and are consumed by heartbreak and despair, or we look at the larger picture.”

The more I considered his words, the more I knew that he was correct.
We can play an endless game of one-upmanship: the number of dead civilians, or that hate crime, or who provoked whom, or what is a proportionate vs a disproportionate response,
but until we consider the broader narrative that spans both history and the regional geopolitics, our understanding of the motivations and morality of Israel’s actions will inevitably be skewed.
Understanding what is happening right now in Gaza requires not just understanding the “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” Just categorizing it as “Israeli-Palestine” makes it sound like a conflict with just two sides, and one of those sides has the distinct upper hand.
But for Israel, it has never been a conflict strictly between them and the Palestinian Territories, but a more significant regional battleground in which Israel is a speck in a sea of hostilities.
Matti Friedman, in his New York Times article, “There is No Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” explains it best: “To someone here, zooming in to frame our problem as an Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes as much sense as describing the ‘America-Italy conflict’ of 1944.
American G.I.s were indeed dying in Italy that year, but an American instinctively knows that this can be understood only by seeing it as one small part of World War II.
The actions of Americans in Italy can’t be explained without Japan, or without Germany, Russia, Britain and the numerous actors and sub-conflicts making up the larger war.”…
So bearing the need for this broader narrative in mind, I'm going to work on a series addressing several of the root issues and contributing conflicts that lead to explosions across Israel and Gaza this last month, starting with the overarching issue of Iran.
We can’t begin to zoom into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without looking at the regional realities. Israel is in the middle of the Arab dominated Middle East and North Africa region and sits on .2 per cent of that land.
In terms of populations, it is potentially a question of the 6.7 million Jews of Israel up against 300 million Arabs of the surrounding nations. But even talking about the Israel-Arab conflict would be inaccurate.
Two countries that pose both ideological and military threats to Israel’s existence are not Arab but Turkish and Iranian.
This consideration tips the scales even further away from a balance of power between the two sides if we are now potentially talking about a Muslim-Israeli conflict when considering the 1 billion Muslims worldwide.
(This is not to imply that Muslims and/or Arabs are universally opposed to Israel's existence as a Jewish state within its approximate current borders, but more to illustrate proportions.)
Today, no single nation is more of an existential threat to Israel than the Shiite theocracy in Iran. In 2015, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a speech that said, “The Zionist Regime will cease to exist in 25 years.”
On the next Al-Quds Day, a holiday created in Iran to celebrate the Islamic Jerusalem, a count-down clock to Israel’s destruction in 2040 was unveiled and presumably is still counting down the days.…
But more than this religious posturing and political saber rattling—Iran is a substantial and material threat.
From the decades since the Islamic revolution in Iran and the Iran-Iraq War, Iran has been fighting a subtle war of dominance through several proxy fights that have slowly but surely established it as a regional powerhouse.
Iran has substantial control of several Arab countries through its vast network of militias in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.…
Indeed, one of the gravest threats to Israel is the Shiite militia Hezbollah, founded and funded by Iran, with dozens of bases on Israel’s northern Lebanese and Syrian borders.
If Hamas, another Iranian-supported militia, had hundreds of relatively unsophisticated (Iranian supplied) rockets to lob at Israel, Hezbollah has an exponentially larger and more sophisticated arsenal.
And here is where Israelis can play out strategic and realistic scenarios: suppose Hezbollah decided to attack from Lebanon and Syria simultaneously.
Suppose the precarious monarchy in Jordan fell, and Hamas took over the West Bank, meaning that there would be an uninterrupted highway between Tehran and Jerusalem.…
These are not far-fetched: when Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, Hamas was elected and gave Iran front-row access to Israel’s southwest border.
In the chaos of the Syrian civil war, Iran and Iranian-affiliated militias took advantage of the power vacuum and essentially took control of large chunks of the country, especially on the border with Israel.
North, East, South, West—Iran has slowly been tightening the noose around the neck of Israel from all sides. So we can see that, from an Israeli perspective, keeping the West Bank out of Hamas' (That is to say, Iran's) hands is essential to the security of Jerusalem.
But here you might object: “Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and radically Sunni. How can you say that they are essentially Iranian proxies or puppets in this conflict?”
There is a surprising history of connections between Iran and the Palestinian cause.
In 1979, Yasser Arafat, a leader of the Palestinian cause, was one of the first international figures to visit Tehran mere days after the success of the Islamic revolution.
“Today Iran, tomorrow Palestine,” cheered crowds as they listened to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini praise Arafat and his vision for a Palestinian state.
Arafat, in turn, hoped that just as the Iranians trained revolutionaries in Lebanon, they would help train and establish fighters for the Palestinian resistance.
As more and more Arab countries signed peace treaties with Israel after their defeats in the Six-Day and Yom Kippur Wars, many Palestinians felt that the broader Arab world had abandoned them.
When Anwar Sadat, the President of Egypt, visited Israel in 1977, the alienation went deep. Two years later, post-revolutionary, non-Arab Iran was ready to take up the “anti-imperial” “anti-western” cause of Palestine.
It gave Iran an appeal beyond the borders of its country and beyond the boundaries of Shia Islam, as the true protector of the faith and the defender of Muslims.
The Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed the last Friday of Ramadan to be “Al-Quds Day.” (Al-Quds is the Islamic name for Jerusalem).
Tehran would also establish the Quds Force, led for many years by General Qassem Soleimani, whose stated purpose was the liberation of Jerusalem.
Arafat was mainly and publicly secular in his aims, and the more moderate contemporary Palestinian political party “Fatah” is the direct descendent of Arafat’s PLO, the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
However, the fiercely Islamic Khomeini now had an “in” with Palestinians, many of whom thought Arafat too moderate, and thus the more extreme Islamist group Hamas was born.
After the Oslo Accords and the subsequent implosion of their peace process with the second intifada in 2001, Iran entrenched itself further into the Palestinian political sphere, building the same gorilla training camps that it had in Lebanon in the 1970s.
In 2005, Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, removing all Israelis from Gaza and officially ending its military occupation. Elections took place in Gaza, and Hamas won a majority of the seats.
This victory set off a war between Fatah and Hamas, and between 2006 and 2007, over 600 Gazans were killed, but eventually, Hamas prevailed.,734…
Iran’s long game had paid off, and now the liberation of Jerusalem in the West Bank seemed closer than ever.
Given Iran’s clearly and regularly stated intentions toward Israel, it is no wonder that Israel has said that they will never accept a nuclear Iran. To do so would be to essentially sign their death warrant.
Much of the Western world also believes that a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran would be disastrous. In 2014, the Obama administration began negotiations to try and delay the inevitable with the Nuclear Deal with Iran.
When the Trump administration later backed out of the Iran Deal and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel with little blowback, it seemed that both the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict had waned,
and the heavily sanctioned Iran could not long sustain the many proxy wars it had committed itself to across the Middle East.
But Iran continued to gain power across the region, despite drawing close to economic disaster.
In 2021, the Biden administration re-entered talks for a renewed Iran Nuclear Deal in Vienna, and though not much has been officially stated, many reports imply difficult negotiations.…
In the middle of these Vienna talks, international coverage of Sheikh Jarrah evictions in East Jerusalem and protests at the Al-Aqsa Mosque coincided with Al-Quds Day,
and Hamas in Gaza issued an ultimatum: withdraw security forces from the Temple Mount and Sheikh Jarrah, or they attack.
Iran unequivocally voiced its support.
When rockets began to fall and drones began to be shot down, it became evident that Iran’s support was not merely vocal but that they also had directly supplied the Hamas and Islamic Jihad arsenal.…
Iraqi Shiite militias on the Israeli-Syrian border voiced their support and signaled their readiness to join the fight. Hezbollah increased its readiness levels. Israel prepared for what might become a multi-front war.
The message was not lost on the negotiators in Vienna. Iran could send a barrage of hundreds of rockets from the south of Israel, but it could send a salvo of thousands of rockets from the north.
Even without a nuclear weapon, Iran essentially holds the fate of Israel in its hands. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is not a sideshow when it comes to Iran or Iranian nuclear weapons. It is at the very heart of it of the struggle.
Though many Palestinians might view Iran as their only reliable ally in their fight against Israel, Iran has used them and the Palestinian cause for over forty years for their own purposes.
Though perhaps there is an apocalyptic religious backing to Iran’s complete rejection of Israel, it has little to do with human rights.
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, while encouraging and taking credit for Hamas’ victory and decrying Israel’s “racist criminal behavior”
regularly meets with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, possibly the most significant war criminal and human rights violator of our times, an Iranian puppet who has unleashed absolute devastation on Syria and
has the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands.
Though Iran loves to frame Israeli issues like “Sheikh Jarrah” from a humanitarian standpoint, they haven’t a leg to stand on when it comes to human rights, either at home in Iran or their interests abroad.…
Historically, regionally, and at the international negotiating table, Iran is using both Israel and the Palestinians for their own ends.
Israel is painfully aware of Iran's maneuverings, but very little of this important factor in Israel's dealings with Hamas makes it into the international narrative.
Israel is often portrayed as motivated by power trips and racism, but when you consider the the clear and present danger posed by the near encirclement of Iranian militias, Israel's actions and their motivations become clearer.
(You can read the linked article at the top of this thread for more "roots of rage" to the outbreak of hostilities in May 2021 such as Sheikh Jarrah and the protests at Al-Aqsa)

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Devon

Devon Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @devoninMENA

14 May
THREAD: Ending Exile, A Meditation on Shavuot

Three quick notes before I begin:

One, it is a bit surreal to be sitting in Israel and writing about the hope given to us at Pentecost as death and mayhem follow riots, rocket launches, and airstrikes.
("All other ground is sinking sand," as the hymn writer says.)
Two, I want to thank all who have followed along with me on this project of writing meditations on the Biblical calendar. I am so grateful for your feedback and encouragement. It was a bright spot in a universally difficult and strange year.
Read 176 tweets
5 Mar
THREAD: Dealings with Iran

In the last few weeks, the Middle East has seen

-Attacks on US coalition forces in Iraq by Iranian proxy militias (,…)

-An Israeli minister accuse Iran of eco-terrorism… Ayatollah Khomeini, first supreme leader of Iran after the I
-US and Israeli strikes on Iranian proxy militias in Syria (…,…)
With this alarming uptick in hostile actions between the US/Israel and Iran, many in the international community are eager to get back to the diplomatic negotiating table and quell the rising tensions that are inching towards open conflict.
Read 69 tweets
25 Feb
THREAD: Universe Reversed: A Meditation on Purim

[Image: “The Festival of Esther” by Edward Armitage. The Royal Academy of Arts Collection.]

Of all the holidays of the Jewish liturgical calendar, Purim is perhaps the most exuberant.
Children dress up in costumes, and friends send portions of food to each other. Many give gifts to the poor and throw lavish parties with plenty of food and drink.
While the Books of Moses mandate many other feasts on the calendar, Purim is a later addition, with an entire book to tell the story of why the Jewish people have been keeping the holiday for the 2500 odd years since the event it celebrates.
Read 89 tweets
3 Jan
On January 3, 2020, a US drone strike killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani—the second most powerful man in Iran after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—near the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

Who was this man, and why had the US deemed him too dangerous to live? Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani ...
Suleimani was born in Rabor, a poor village in the mountains of eastern Iran. Because of his family's poverty, he was forced from a young age to manual labour.
A young man with only a high school education, he eventually worked for the local municipal water department. And there Suleimani might have stayed, if not for the events of 1979.
Read 42 tweets
12 Nov 20
THREAD: The Covenants of YHWH and Supersessionism

I just started reading the book, “The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion” edited by John Barton, and this paragraph on page 5 arrested my attention:
“The Letter to the Hebrews describes the new covenant in Christ as superseding the old one, so that old is not just a temporal but in a sense an evaluative term: ‘He abolishes the first in order to establish the second’ (Heb 10:9); ‘In speaking of a “new covenant,” he has…
…made the old one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear’ (Heb. 8:13).”
Read 59 tweets
26 May 20
Sisterhood of the Serpent-Crushers
-or- The Shadow of the Seed of the Woman

A thread on women who crushed the heads of evil men and the great host of women in Psalm 68.

Image: "Virgin Mary consoles Eve" by Sr. Grace Remington OCSO, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey
For the last few months, I have been studying Psalm 68 on and off. It's a magnificent song of David about the ultimate triumph of God over his enemies.
While powerful enough with a surface-level reading, (🔥Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation, v. 5🔥), the cross-references and allusions to the stories of women in the Bible add considerable depth and color to the Psalm.
Read 29 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!