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The United States have come to terms with Iran as an atomic power. On Sunday evening the 3rd of May 2009, Israeli television’s Channel 1 opened its evening news summary with the above headline. What was the source of this information? In the previous week high-level delegates of the European Union had apparently met with representatives of the Israeli government.

“Better Bomb than Bombing.” This is how the European officials, not mentioned by name, sum up the attitude of high-ranking staff members of US President Barack Obama when it comes to the Islamic Repbulic of Iran and its atomic ambitions. Israeli media representatives interpret this message to mean that the USA does not intend to continue its efforts to stop Iran from developing an atomic bomb.

Israeli representatives, who, like all influential participants in this procedure, are of course not allowed to be mentioned by name, claim that Europeans understand Israels concern about Iran much better than the Americans. “In Israel we are worried,” reports the political correspondent Israeli TV’s Channel 1, Ayalah Hason-Nesher, “and that’s an understatement.”

At the same time, Iran – as if in response to this announcement – issued a threat of the destruction of Israel which was without precedent. Lebanese State Television LBC broadcasted the statement of the General Commander of the Iran Army, General Ataollah Salihi:
“The truth is, Israel will not have the courage to attack us. If we were attacked in any way by Israel, we wouldn’t, by my calculation, need more than eleven days in order to wipe Israel out of existence.”

Oded Granot, Arab correspondent on Israeli television, points out that this is the first time that a high-ranking Iranian official has actually defined a time frame for the destruction of Israel. Moreover, he finds it significant that in this case the threat does not come from Iranian politicians, whose propaganda we are well used to, but from one of the most prominent military leaders in the country. Granot couldn’t up to now find out whether the number “eleven days” has a particular significance in the Shi-ite tradition, which could put a religious or ideological slant on the meaning of the statement.

What is remarkable in this affair is not only the intensity and concern with which the journalists of Israeli’s Channel 1 communicated what they had to say, but also the subsequent silence of Israeli and international media.

The daily paper Haaretz only reported the next morning that, in the opinion of opposition leader Tzippi Livni, the threat from Iran was a unique opportunity for the Israeli-Arab peace process. Right next to this statement in the liberal left-wing paper was a report that 66 percent of Israeli Jews are in favour of a military attack on the Islamic Republic. The more right-wing Jerusalem Post graced the theme of Iran – which is otherwise a constant headline-catcher –  only with a commentary about Holocaust denier Ahmedinejad.

When asked why this sensational announcement was so widely ignored, Oded Granot’s only answer was that the viewing rate for the nine o’clock news was so low that hardly anyone had seen it. The German broadcaster n-tv was the only channel to bring an announcement of the Israeli TV report – on its internet page.

Translation by Nicola Vollkommer

You find the original news clip of LBC with English translation under

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By Published On: May 4, 20092.8 min read

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