Israeli journalist Bergman documents convincingly and with a fair amount of balance Iran’s backing of Hizballah and other terrorist fronts to undermine Israeli and U.S. policies.
Armed with incriminating documents retrieved by Iranian students from the American embassy in Tehran in 1979—classified information that revealed intensive intelligence collaboration among the shah, the United States and Israel—the Khomeini-led revolutionary regime in Iran vowed “death to Israel” and largely blamed the Jews for the country’s turmoil. Bergman chronicles these growing hostilities from the fraught earliest days of the revolution, when Abraham Geffen, an Iranian Jew working for El Al, collaborated with the Mossad to help stranded Jews get out of Iran. The narrative continues through the Iran-Iraq war, successive Lebanese wars and the mid-1980s establishment of Hizballah in southern Lebanon. From the outset, asserts Bergman, Hizballah’s goals were to replace the existing Lebanese regime with Shi’ite Muslim leadership, to liberate Jerusalem, eradicate the Jewish state and drive Western forces out of the region. Under the noses of Israeli and American intelligence officials, Hizballah intensified terrorist efforts, perfecting the arts of suicide bombing, assassinations and hostage taking. Efforts to stop Hizbollah (and further other hawkish aims of the Reagan administration) led to the nexus of covert U.S. and Israeli dealings that sparked the Iran-Contra scandal. In the decades-long struggle between Iran/Hizbollah and Israel/America, even the fate of a single individual—Israeli Defense Force airman Ron Arad, shot down over Lebanon in 1986 and never heard from again—could prompt kidnappings, assassinations and terrorist bombings around the globe. Bergman looks carefully at the Iranians’ worldwide terrorist connections, drug rings and counterfeit operations, support for al-Qaeda and growing rapprochement with Hamas. His wake-up call ends by asserting that the threat of nuclear war is very real, thanks in part to an Israeli arms trader’s lucrative sales of weapons of mass destruction to Iran.
Readers who grant the author his Israeli bias will find this a reasoned and perspicacious overview of the Western failure to recognize the Iranian threat.