Iran's proxy war with Israel continues

James Taranto talks with Benjamin Netanyahu:

Benjamin Netanyahu runs a few minutes late for our Monday afternoon meeting. When he arrives in his midtown Manhattan hotel suite, he explains that he has just received word from home of the latest Palestinian war crime. "Hamas fired 15 rockets into Israel today. One of them hit a car, killed a woman," says Mr. Netanyahu, the former Israeli prime minister and now leader of the opposition. The victim, 32-year-old Shirel Friedman, was on her way to see her mother.

For the 57-year-old Mr. Netanyahu, there is a sort of grim vindication in such attacks. He quit the government of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in August 2005, objecting to Mr. Sharon's plan for unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. "I had a very big argument with him on this," Mr. Netanyahu recalls. "He thought that we would have the right of free action--that we would garner international support for any reaction. I thought that is a very thin sheet of ice--the international community can turn against you as quickly as it turns for you--but the overwhelming fact is that the Muslim militants and Iran will find a new base, a few miles from Tel Aviv, with the ability to cover the south of the country and the center of the country with rockets."

Five years earlier, Ehud Barak, Mr. Netanyahu's successor as prime minister, had similarly withdrawn from southern Lebanon, creating a safe haven for Hezbollah, which has periodically rocketed cities in Israel's north. In both cases, Mr. Netanyahu says, Israel's leaders were "captivated by a concept, and the concept was that we purchase security from retreat, from withdrawals--that is, that the way to stop the attacks on us is to placate our enemies by unilaterally withdrawing from territory under our control, thereby robbing them of the pretext to attack us. In fact, this was interpreted exactly in the opposite manner. . . . It was interpreted not as a sign of strength but as a show of weakness."

"There is not much difference" between Hezbollah and Hamas, Mr. Netanyahu says. "They are both supported by Iran, supplied by Iran, inspired by Iran." They share a common goal, "to get us to withdraw from more territory--of course this time not so-called occupied territory, but Israel proper. For them, any inch of Israel is occupied territory, and the 'liberation' will be culminated when Israel ceases to exist."

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made that clear in 2005, when he declared that "Israel must be wiped off the map"--a particularly chilling pronouncement given that his regime is seeking weapons that would make it capable of doing just that. "This could be the rise of the first undeterrable, fanatical nuclear power in the world," says Mr. Netanyahu. "It's an apocalyptic, messianic sect that could possess nuclear weapons, to the detriment of all mankind."

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Netanyahu makes a compelling case for disinvestment in companies doing business with Iran. He sees this as more effective than the current efforts at negotiation and much easier than a military assault on Iran's nukes. I think we should do whether or not it effects Iran's policy. It probably will not. But it will weaken Iran and make it more difficult for it to finance its weapons program. This will cause hardships in other areas that can be exploited and may ultimately lead to regime change or more internal conflict which could effect its ability to make mischief.

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