Durns, author of “Iran is Willing to Fight to the Last Israeli Arab,” in the current issue of the JPC’s inFOCUS quarterly and a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analyses (CAMERA), noted that reported homicides in Israeli Arab communities have jumped from 58 in 2013 to 126 in 2021. A major reason, he said, is Iranian-organized gun smuggling into the Jewish state.
Infiltrating more—Israeli security officials report a “seven-fold increase”—and better-quality weapons, mostly across the Hezbollah-dominated Lebanese border, secondarily from Jordan through the West Bank, serves several Iranian ends, Durns said. Surging violent crime among Israeli Arabs could undermine their support for Israel, even when a majority tells pollsters it would not wish to join a new Palestinian Arab state, should one be created.
Further, “weapons also would be available for more attacks” against Jewish Israelis. And, Durns said, the mullahs in Tehran “may speculate about … bogging down Israeli troops in violence before reaching the front” in wartime.
“Iran has considerable expertise in smuggling” and maintains and extensive global network, based on the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hezbollah, according to Durns. Illegal sale of drugs, oil, ivory and weapons not only earns money for the two organizations and Iran’s ayatollahs, but in the case of narcotics and guns also “sows disorder and death” in countries targeted by Tehran, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. He stressed that one of Iran’s strategic goals is the destruction of the Jewish state.
But rather than dig into this story journalistically, Durns said, major legacy news media including the New York Times, Washington Post and Guardian spin a narrative promoted by non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. It alleges official Israeli neglect of the Arab communities and Jerusalem as disinterested in Arab Israeli crime so long as “Arabs are only killing Arabs.”
Durns—whose work has appeared in The National Interest, Washington Examiner and Jerusalem Post among other outlets—said this media perspective parallels a long-running Iranian propaganda campaign. Tehran’s “information warfare” attempts to delegitimize Israel as an inequitable society in which non-Jews suffer a form of “apartheid.”
“Iran has a lot more money to spend under this administration,” Durns said, referring to the Biden White House’s loosening of economic sanctions as it attempts to reach a new nuclear weapons deal with Tehran. Some of the new funds will go to Iranian destabilization efforts throughout the Middle East and beyond, including smuggling, he added.
On the positive side, Israel has good intelligence about Iran’s efforts to infiltrate weapons into the Jewish state, highlighted by last summer’s seizure of $800,000 worth of weapons and ammunition, Durns noted. And, Israeli officials are focused on improving conditions for Israeli Arabs, including increasing funding in those communities.