Prof: Downplay Iran rhetoric
Expert on Turkey, Middle East relations says Iran, Turkey both posturing
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “cornered himself” by responding to Iran’s rhetoric but has failed to combat Israel’s most strained relation in the Middle East by staying mum in response to Turkey, said Tel Aviv University visiting professor and expert on Turkey and Middle East affairs Ehud Toledano.
As the final event during Toledano’s two-week visit across Australia organised by the Israel Embassy and supported by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA), the professor briefed community leaders in Melbourne on 15 March, an event co-sponsored by the ZFA and Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV).
“We don’t know how effective the (Iran nuclear) program will be,” Toledano said. “Ahmadinejad is not relevant to any decision making. He is a ridiculous buffoon and a bad person. He is not going to make the decision, and he is not going to push the button.”
Toledano concluded that both Iran and Turkey are attempting to enhance their influence in the region and across the world.
“Turkey and Iran are craving status,” Toledano said. “Turkey is doing it through bullying with its economic situation, and Iran wants to do it through its nuclear capabilities.”
In the rest of the Arab World, he is “cautiously optimistic.”
“When free elections occur, Islamic parties succeed,” Toledano said. “They like faith in their politics. All of the parties that have won power are the moderates – they may not seem moderate to the outside world, but they have to be in order to stay in power.”
Toledano’s remarks surprised many of the community leaders in their variance from most of the current news analysis. But the community leaders appreciated Toledano’s viewpoint.
“Professor Toledano brought us a totally different perspective on matters that are of great concern to Jews everywhere. His analysis challenged conventional thinking in a way that was both confronting and enlightening. The Zionist Council of Victoria and the Zionist Federation of Australia are proud to be able to present esteemed experts to the Australian community” said ZCV President Sam Tatarka.
ZFA President Philip Chester said: “He urged great caution in making decisions on what to do with Iran because of the implications of any step against them. He felt that relations between Israel and Turkey are the most negative aspect of what is happening in the Middle East and in need of the most work to repair.”
19 March 2012