War drums from Iran and Israel drown out rich past
13-Mar-2012 (2 comments)

(CNN) -- The saber-rattling between Iran and Israel conjures fears of mass casualties and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Israel has threatened to attack Iran to stop it from obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and has threatened to strike first against enemies who threaten its national interests.

The tough talk makes it easy to forget that Israel and Iran have not always been enemies. The Jews of Israel and Persians of Iran have had a rich and nuanced relationship dating back thousands of years.

They have enjoyed an "overwhelmingly positive connection" for centuries, said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and author of "Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States."

In fact, Israeli Jews grow up reading a Bible story about the Persian leader Cyrus the Great, who is said to have liberated Jews and allowed them to return from exile to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, said David Menashri, an Israeli expert on Israeli-Iranian relations.

Darius Kadivar

When Iran, Israel were friends

by Darius Kadivar on

  • Israelis fondly think about Cyrus the Great, the ancient Persian king
  • During the rule of the shah, Israel and Iran forged "multilayered" ties
  • In the 1980s, Israel and Iran had a common enemy in Saddam Hussein
  • Iran now backs Hamas and Hezbollah, two anti-Israel movements


Darius Kadivar

Trita believed Iran could become Malaysia of Middle East ? ;0))

by Darius Kadivar on

"Iran harbored ambitions to lead the Muslim world in the fight to liberate Palestinians and wrest Jerusalem, one of Islam's holy cities and Judaism's holiest city, from Israel, said Vali Nasr, the author of the "Shia Revival." 

Yet Iran maintained a pragmatic instinct, said Trita Parsi, who cited a 2003 Iranian idea to lower the political temperatures and stave off Iran's isolation. 

"Much like Malaysia, Iran would be an Islamic state that did not formally recognize Israel and would occasionally criticize Israeli policies, but would refrain from directly confronting Israel. Iran would get out of Israel's hair in return for an end to Israeli pressure on the United States to isolate and contain Iran," Parsi said. 

The concept didn't get off the ground. 

After he was elected in 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began spouting anti-Israeli and anti-Western rhetoric. He enraged Jews by denying the Holocaust and alarmed them with virulent attacks on Israel."



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