Why the Islamic Republic has to keep the fire going.
Many observers suggest that the elimination of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), or ending their role in Gaza, could lead to lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Proponents of this view often assume that Hamas and PIJ are autonomous, unitary actors, overlooking the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has played a significant role as a peace spoiler in the region. As long as the Islamic Republic’s peace-spoiling efforts are not fully acknowledged and countered, peace between Israelis and Palestinians will remain elusive.
The Islamic regime in Iran, founded in 1979, espoused “the most radical anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist” position in the Muslim Middle East. In a theological innovation, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the new regime, asserted that liberating Jerusalem from the “Zionist enemy” and its return to Muslim hands was a precondition for completing the Islamist revolution and the return of Mahdi, the Shiite 12th Imam.
The regime has started to practice “redemptive anti-Semitism,” a highly virulent form of antisemitism that considers the physical annihilation of the state of Israel to be one of its highest callings. The obsessive focus on Jerusalem has also served a realpolitik purpose. Since the Saudi Kingdom, the main rival of Khomeinism, was the custodian of Mecca and Medina, Khomeini tried to even the playing field by declaring the Muslim shrines of Jerusalem to be of equal value and essentially appointing Iran as its custodian…