Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)
Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Arts in History
Michael Zirinsky, Ph.D.
Shelton Woods, Ph.D.
Peter Buhler, Ph.D.
The purpose of this work is to examine the relationship between Iran and Israel after Israel became a state in 1948 following the United Nations (UN) Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, which would lead to independent Arab and Jewish states. The Palestinians and their Arab neighbors rejected the UN Partition Plan and attacked Israel but were defeated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Israel and Iran (not an Arab country) quickly became best friends and trading partners, since their Arab neighbors were hostile to both countries. This new partnership included a joint pipeline to transport oil across Israel and the sharing of Israel missile technology with Iran.
Additionally, this research explores how the United States (US) became part of the Israeli-Iranian alliance after the British decided to withdraw their military forces from the Gulf in the late 1960s. President Richard Nixon proclaimed his Twin Pillar Policy of handing over security of the Persian Gulf to Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both countries, especially Iran, were heavily armed by the United States. Iran’s close ally Israel subsequently also received billions of dollars in arms from the United States, becoming part of the bulwark intended to prevent the Soviets from increasing their influence in the Middle East.
The triple alliance collapsed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran when the US hostage crisis compelled the United States to disengage. The hostage issue turned the United States against Iran; consequently the United States has rejected numerous overtures by Iran to improve relations over the last 30 years. The Islamic Revolution also ended the robust alliance between Iran and Israel. However, during its war with Iraq (1980-1988), Israel continued to sell arms to Iran in exchange for oil, hoping Iran would become more secular and the alliance could be reestablished. The United States illegally sold arms to Iran as well, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal.
Many Arab states assisted the United States and Western allies in defeating Iraq in the first Gulf War. This was followed by the Oslo Accords prompting a possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the possibility of peace with the Palestinians, Israel perceived it was no longer a strategic asset to the United States and would lose vital financial and political support from its major benefactor. To ensure that the crucial support from the United States would continue, Israel turned on Iran, painting it as irrational and therefore the new existential enemy of both Israel and the United States, if it were to develop a nuclear weapon. At the same time, the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) carried the same message to the US Congress and Administration.
Israel continues to exist, to a large extent because of US aid assured by the pro-Israel lobby in the US.
Ellsworth, Roy J., "Israel, Iran, and the United States: A Precarious Alliance" (2014). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. 803.