For years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of Iran's growing nuclear program. In 2009, Netanyahu told Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, "People say that they’ll behave like any other nuclear power. Can you take the risk? Can you assume that?"
The Iranian regime, for its part, continues to stoke Israeli fears and anger. Speaking with reporters at a breakfast meeting in New York this week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad belittled Israel's history, and explained that Israelis "Do not even enter the equation for Iran." When asked about Israeli threats against Iran's nuclear program, Ahmadinejad scoffed.
"We believe the Zionists see themselves at a dead end and they want to find an adventure to get out of this dead end," he said. "We are fully ready to defend ourselves. We do not take these threats seriously."
A new book by longtime Jerusalem correspondent Patrick Tyler argues that while Iran and other countries in the Middle East have no doubt contributed to the stalemate in the region, Israel's bellicose outlook has also impeded the prospects for peace.
"The Arab states are responsible for their own failures to build democratic institutions for peace," he writes in his new book, "Fortress Israel: The Inside Story of the Military Elite Who Run the Country – and Why They Can’t Make Peace." "From the outset, Arab leaders…rejected the U.N.'s partition plan in 1947 and showed little or no empathy for a people devastated by annihilation in Europe." And yet, he continues, "the martial impulse in Israeli society and among its ruling elite has undermined opportunities for reconciliation…and fomented deliberate acts of provocation designed to disrupt international diplomatic efforts to find a formula for peace."