Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Bob Morrison.
There are precedents for what Iran's "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has just done. Khamenei is the top in Tehran who is threatening to wipe Israel off the map. Khamenei said "the fake Zionist (regime) will disappear from the landscape of geography.” He said this to a meeting of Iran-Iraq war veterans. That 1980s war claimed millions of lives and was fought for what? Both Saddam Hussein of Iraq and the mullahs of Iran showed a complete disregard for human lives in that pointless brutal and inconclusive decade-long struggle.
One of the most horrific aspects to that war were the little plastic keys the clerics gave to thousands of Iranian boys as young as 10. These keys on necklaces would, they told those doomed lads, open up the gates of Paradise to them. Then they sent these children to clear Iraqi minefields--by marching right through them. What else do we need to know about the inhumanity of this regime? These are the mullahs who invented suicide bombing. They sent a Hezbollah driver and truck into the midst of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, detonating a blast that killed the driver and 241 U.S. Marines and Navy Corpsmen in 1983.
Now, Khamenei is once again making threats of annihilation against Israel. These threats are eerily echoing those made by Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser in the days that led up to the 1967 Mideast War. Nasser kicked UN truce supervisors out of the Sinai desert, thus making possible a sneak attack on Israel. He then proceeded to close off the Gulf of Aqaba, preventing Israel from using the port of Eilat. He knew the risk he was taking in thus provoking war with Israel. He wanted that war.Nasser said: “We knew that by closing the Gulf of Aqaba it might mean war with Israel. [If war comes] it will be total and the objective will be to destroy Israel.” (Washington Post, May 27, 1967)
Nasser sought to unite all the Arabs, not behind Islam, for he was a secular dictator, an "Arab socialist," bent on creating pan-Arab unity by demonizing the Jews. He blamed the Jews of Israel for the backwardness and poverty of people on the "Arab street." It is the oldest of dictators' ploys. If your corrupt and debilitating regimes produce dangerous pressures from below, blame it all on the Jews.
Nasser took to the radio and called upon all Arabs to "drive the Jews into the sea." Israel was not eager for war, especially not a war on four fronts. Israel in 1967 was just nine miles wide at the widest point. The Jewish state was dangerously exposed to invasion.