Stop Hamas and Hezbollah By Punishing Iran

by | Oct 25, 2023 | Middle East & Israel

No matter how much damage Israel inflicts on the Hamas military, Iran-inspired terrorism will not be deterred.

Even if America cannot prove that Iran explicitly ordered the slaughter in Southern Israel, it is clearly responsible for the terror perpetrated by Hamas.

The only way to stop Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism is to punish Iran. No matter how much damage Israel inflicts on the Hamas military, Iran-inspired terrorism will not be deterred. Iran will continue to encourage Hamas to initiate new violence. This is especially so in light of the “success” of the recent massacres in achieving the goals of both Hamas and Iran: the murder of Israeli Jews with an eye to the destruction of Israel.

Regardless of what direct role Iran may or may not have played in orchestrating this massacre, it is indisputable that Iran has provided the military and financial support without which such massacres would not be possible. Even if American intelligence cannot prove that Iran explicitly ordered this action, it is clearly responsible for it and other atrocities perpetrated by Hamas and Hezbollah.

It is obvious that only Iran can permanently put an end to the recurring violence. And the only way to persuade Iran to terminate its role as the primary supporter of terrorism in the Middle East, would be to punish the regime if it persists in facilitating such abominations: every act of Iran-inspired terrorism shall be countered with punitive actions.

Rather than punishing Iran, though, America is unfreezing $6 billion of Iranian funds. This money is supposed to be used for humanitarian purposes, but as the Iranian leadership has said, it will be used for whatever purposes Iran decides. Money is fungible, and the more Iran receives, the more of it can be sent to Hamas. This means more terrorism, more massacres, more kidnappings, more lynchings, and more rapes.

Even were the United States to refreeze the funds and impose more severe economic sanctions, that would not deter Iran from inciting and ordering Hamas to commit more terror, because their zeal cannot be cooled by financial considerations. There are, however, several possible actions the United States could take that might prevent or deter Iran from facilitating further terrorism.

The most effective but least likely is to threaten the Mullahs with regime change, which has thus far not been part of U.S. policy. The second would be the destruction of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This could be accomplished by Israel alone or by a combination of Israeli and American military action. The international community would publicly condemn such actions, but many world leaders especially among Arab nations would privately favor them.

The third option would be to persuade Saudi Arabia to recognize and normalize relationships with Israel. Since one of the apparent goals of the Iranian-backed Hamas massacres was to derail progress toward such an arrangement, it would send a powerful message to the Iranian leadership if the Hamas attack were to be seen as backfiring.

Another benefit of focusing on Iran, instead of exclusively on Hamas, might be to encourage Israel not to undertake an immediate and difficult incursion into Gaza. Israel, of course, has the right to do so, but such an incursion would be costly both in terms of Israeli lives and the lives of Palestinian human shields who are deliberately placed in harm’s way by Hamas.

If Israel knew it could come out of this disaster with a weakened Iran, especially one without a nuclear weapons program, it might be willing to forgo its right to destroy Hamas.

Another hard step America could take would be to make new demands on Iran’s and Hamas’ most important ally in the region — namely Qatar. We could demand that Qatar extradite the Hamas leaders who are now hiding in plain view in Doha. We could demand that Qatar end its financial aid to Hamas, since these dollars, which are supposed to be used for humanitarian purposes, are in fact, used to support terrorism. We could demand that Qatar end or at least weaken its cozy relationship with Iran.

To be sure, the United States has an important military base in Qatar, but it could be moved to Bahrain. This would be costly to both Qatar and to us, but it would send an important message of American strength.

Most importantly, America must continue its unconditional and hopefully bipartisan support for Israel’s efforts to protect its own citizens and be in the forefront of the worldwide effort to fight terrorism.

Alan Dershowitz is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and the author of “Get Trump,” “Guilt by Accusation” and “The Price of Principle.” Active in litigation, writing, and defense of civil liberties and human rights. Visit his substack and follow him at @AlanDersh.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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