Israel and Iran

Israel and Iran: A Dangerous Rivalry

Dalia Dassa Kaye
Alireza Nader
Parisa Roshan
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 116
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Israel and Iran
    Book Description:

    Israel and Iran have come to view each other as direct regional rivals. The two countries are not natural rivals; they have shared geopolitical interests, which led to years of cooperation both before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution. But their rivalry has intensified recently, particularly with the rise of fundamentalist leaders in Iran and the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran posing grave strategic and ideological challenges to Israel.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5863-8
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Summary
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In recent years, strategic pressures—beginning with the defeat of Iraq in 1991 but solidifying with Saddam Hussein’s removal in 2003—have moved Israel and Iran toward greater competition. To make matters worse, the ideological framing of this conflict has reached new levels, reinforcing the strategic basis of the rivalry. Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear program, and potentially a nuclear weapons capability, has particularly heightened tensions between the two nations. Although mutual hostility has defined Israeli-Iranian relations since Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979, the two sides have never engaged in direct military conflict. They have even cooperated at times in...

  7. CHAPTER TWO A Brief History of Israeli-Iranian Cooperation and Confrontation
    (pp. 9-18)

    Given the current state of hostility between Israel and Iran, we may easily overlook the years of cooperative relations between these two states, both before and even after the Islamic revolution. Although such cooperation faced limits and did not remove Iranian animosity toward Israel, it was still extensive at times. Iran’s tacit military, economic, and intelligence cooperation with Israel during the Shah’s time was based on common geopolitical interests, including fears of Nasserite Pan-Arabism and Soviet communism. Although the Shah was sensitive to Arab anti-Israeli sentiment and became more openly critical of Israel after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, he continued...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Israeli Perceptions of and Policies Toward Iran
    (pp. 19-54)

    Over the past decade, Iran has emerged as Israel’s main rival. From Lebanon to Gaza to the dramatic 2011 revolts that swept through Egypt and the Arab world, Israelis view nearly every regional challenge through the prism of Iran. Despite brief attempts to relax tensions with the Islamic Republic in the late 1990s, any vestige of the periphery doctrine is now gone. Today, there is a basic incompatibility of interests between the two countries, suggesting that a return to even limited cooperation—as occurred both before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution—may no longer be possible.

    Not only do...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Iranian Perceptions of and Policies Toward Israel
    (pp. 55-80)

    Israel has always occupied a unique place in shaping the Islamic Republic’s strategic interests and threat perceptions. Though not a primary or even a direct threat on the scale of the United States, Israel is now viewed by the Iranian regime as a major regional rival. The reasons for Iranian hostility are complex and at times puzzling. Israel is physically far from the Iranian homeland and has no claims on Iranian territory. The two countries do not compete economically. And, until recently, Israel and Iran were not direct military rivals. Israel’s immediate zone of security interests, the Levant, is in...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Conclusion and Recommendations
    (pp. 81-88)

    Israel and Iran have been adversaries for more than 30 years. The 1979 Islamic revolution transformed cooperative Israeli-Iranian relations under the Shah into open hostility. However, even after the revolution, the animosity between the two countries was often tempered by pragmatism. Both Israel and Iran viewed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a more serious threat to their respective national interests than each other. Some Israeli leaders also clung to the old “periphery doctrine” in which Persian Iran would serve as a counterweight to Israel’s Arab neighbors.

    This did not prevent Iran from opening a “second front” with Israel during its war...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 89-100)