Israel’s attack on an Iranian military base outside Shiraz necessitated a new approach to today’s post I completed yesterday. Then again, it didn’t.

Regarding Israel’s response to Iran’s missile attack, I cited the 19th-century French novelist Eugène Sue writing in Memoirs of Matilda: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” 

I also referred to New York Times columnist Tom Friedman in “Iran Just Made a Big Mistake. Israel Shouldn’t Follow.” (April 14): “There now needs to be a massive, sustained, global initiative to isolate Iran — not only to deter it from trying such an adventure again but also to give reason to Israel not to automatically retaliate militarily.”

Israel hit back. But, it more slapped than punched. Iran is holding off. For now. Still, I agree with Friedman: “Israel needs a regional alliance, along with the U.S., to deter it [Iran] over the long run.” This would produce major diplomatic and economic consequences for Iran.

Israel did prove a point last night. Iran had fired off 300+ drones and missiles. Israel, U.S., British and Jordanian forces (at the least) intercepted 99 percent. Some reports mentioned an Iranian failure rate of 50 percent—missiles that didn’t take off or fly. Result: one (too many) serious injury—a Bedouin Muslim girl in the Negev.

Posturing and bluster still rule, but pragmatism weighs in. Iran seemingly telegraphed its intentions. Once the missiles, following slower drones, had been launched, Iran declared the matter concluded. The ayatollahs know they can’t afford a wider war—even if after Israel’s very limited strike last night.

Israel’s mini-strike made a statement of deterrence. Did the ayatollahs get it? Remains to be seen. However, Israel may have bought time. Now, it has a critically important job: build on new, if limited, global support. And signal Iran that further escalation isn’t in the cards. 

Israel certainly demonstrated its military might. Along with friends, it knocked down all those Iranian missiles while its own few hit Iran. But Israel must foster better relations with the U.S., the West and Sunni Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia—threatened by Iran and previously attacked by its Houthi proxies. The U.S. and Britain have imposed new sanctions on Iran, whose economy long has been weakened. Not much bite there. What would really hurt? The strengthening of, and addition to, Israel’s defensive alliances.

What’s next? Will Iran bide its time then launch another attack—perhaps cyber? Will Israel play tit for tat? An Israeli cyberattack might target Tehran’s electrical grid, nuclear facilities and/or oil-industry. It might temporarily shut down an Iranian missile base or storage facility. Perhaps one or more naval bases. 

And then?

Back to allies. These might be found in unlikely places. Friedman: “Many Iranians understand that the regime’s obsession with destroying the Jewish state is nothing but a costly way to divert the Iranian public’s attention from its murderous crackdown at home against its own people.” The ayatollahs do not rest easy. 

Hall of Fame college basketball coach John Wooden (UCLA) famously advised his players, “Be quick, not fast.” Bibi Netanyahu needs to slow down and start thinking long term.

I support revenge served cold. Enhanced diplomacy and a vision for a Palestinian state will take time. But they can keep Iran on the hot seat and ratchet up the temperature.

Please pass on this post. And Happy Passover!

The post will take off on April 26 and resume May 3.

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