Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran: AIPAC head sees headaches for Israel

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In December 2004, Howard Kohr told Bay Area audiences that a nuclear Iran was Israel’s biggest worry.

In December 2005, Kohr warned audiences of the menace facing Israel and the West from a nuclear Iran.

In December 2006: Guess what?

It’s not so much that the executive director of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby, is a broken record. It’s that no one is taking tangible steps. He’s still talking about Iran because Iran is still a massive worry, and the passage of time hasn’t helped at all.

“The United Nations passed a resolution [in March] by a unanimous vote which said the following: ‘You, Iran, need to stop enriching uranium, which we know is meant for a nuclear weapons project. … And if you don’t stop by August 31, the Security Council will vote again and send a message to those who are not toeing the line of the international community,'” he said.

“Unfortunately, here we are in the first week of December and the Security Council has failed to act. They have not kept their promise. Not only is Iran now moving full steam ahead on their nuclear project feeling nothing can stop them, the fact of the matter is they have undermined the Security Council and the integrity of the international effort to stop rogue regimes from acquiring nuclear weapons.”

While the sound of cutlery and shmoozing drowned out many of the thank-yous and shout-outs one would expect at an AIPAC membership event featuring an all-time San Francisco high of 1,300 attendees, not one fork hit the china when Kohr connected the dots that could lead to anti-Israel fanatics possessing nuclear weaponry. In addition to the San Francisco event on Monday, Dec. 4, he spoke the previous day in Santa Clara and Sacramento and that evening in Oakland.

Israel’s ongoing nightmare of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually having the means to wipe a nation off the map is accentuated this year by conditions in Lebanon, a country Kohr described as being on the precipice of a civil war.

If, as seems painfully likely, the situation in Israel’s northern neighbor dissolves into chaos, it has a good chance of becoming a broader regional war, as so many parties have vested interests in the outcome.

“The United States, France, Israel and Europe have a stake in supporting the current government, to be sure it survives. But a challenge exists at the moment from Hezbollah, with support of Syria and Iran,” he said.

“If Hezbollah prevails, not only will it create a radical entity on Israel’s northern border dedicated it Israel’s destruction. Among its first steps would be to redeploy the Lebanese forces deployed in the south that create a buffer between Israel and Hezbollah. The moment that happens, the international forces may be asked … to leave entirely. And that is a circumstance, after what happened this summer, that Israel will not tolerate.”

Kohr painted a radioactive Tehran as a problem not only for Israel but also the entire West. The Arab-Israeli conflict will never be solved if Iranian warheads point toward Jerusalem and the button can be pressed on a mullah’s whim.

“Can you imagine how Hamas or Hezbollah could operate under a nuclear umbrella? The kind of impunity they’d show the international community and Israel itself?” he queried.

In December 2004, Kohr asked Bay Area audiences if they thought there was time to sit on their hands while Iran developed nuclear weapons.

In December 2005, he told audience members, “We men and women of AIPAC will ask, ‘Did we do everything we could?’ That answer must be ‘Yes.'”

And in December of 2006 — guess what?

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.