Last week, I discussed the survey conducted by the BBC in 22 countries, which found that Israel took the third place on the list of the most rejected countries. The first place on that survey was taken by Iran. I fear that if the survey were held today, after the speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Iranian President Rouhani at the UN General Assembly, Iran would lose its title and Israel would have taken its place in this "esteemed" position.
This is something that troubles me. Our place in the international public opinion survey is just as important and no less of a threat to Israel's future than the Iranian nuclear project or the Palestinian problem.
Since its presidential elections, Iran has attempted to present a new approach and a more flexible policy. I understand and accept a cautious response, one that embraces the stance of "respect him but suspect him'. However, I have reservations with the position which states in advance that Iran has not changed and that the existing regime cannot change in the future.
The list of evidence brought up by Netanyahu, evidence that presents Iran's devious plots, all referred to the period the preceded Iran's new appearance. This may serve the purpose of Israel's public relations purposes - and I doubt that - but it points to something much more dangerous: Netanyahu's Israel is fixated with a "conception" and is impervious to the possibility of an objective examination so long as this concept is in place.
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Israel recently marked the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. Were it not for a military conception, it is possible that the IDF could have been alerted in time and the course of the war, and its results, could have been altered. More importantly, if not for a political conception, it might have been possible to prevent the war.
After the 1967 Six-Day War, the political leadership, and the majority of the Israeli population, were fixated with the conception that the Arab world was determined to destroy Israel - regardless of what the leaders of the Arab world would say or propose, we would not believe them.
On September 1, 1967, the Khartoum summit of Arab state leaders after the Six-Day War came to a conclusion. Israel defined this summit as the "Three No's" summit, one where the Arab world declared "no peace, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel." Foreign media, on the other hand, covered the summit in a completely different manner - "very realistic discussions, a modest step towards peace, and Egypt clearly discusses a political solution."
Today, we know from the numerous publications revealed at the time that there was a very strong and realistic basis for the foreign commentary given then, while there was also a justification for our rough and pessimistic assessment of the summit at the same time.
The failure we had - from both an intelligence and political perspective - was not in the assessment, but in the unwillingness to examine and give the positive and optimistic assessment a chance.
The Arab world changed its position at the time because of the intense pressure that arose in the wake of the war. When Rouhani was elected as president by the people of Iran, it was not out of a purpose to deceive Israel and the world - it was an honest expression of the severe distress prevailing in the country.
I don't expect that Israel will do away with its suspicions. I expect it to honestly examine the opposite option - the possibility that the very painful sanctions imposed on Iran just might be achieving their objective.