"Iran's leadership comprises a group of extreme fanatical Muslims who
believe that their messianic times have arrived," Lewis said. "This is quite
dangerous. Though Russia and the U.S. both had nuclear weapons, it was clear
that they would never use them because of MAD — mutual assured destruction.
Each side knew it would be destroyed if it would attack the other."
"But with these people in Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a
deterrent factor, but rather an inducement," Lewis said. "They feel that
they can hasten the final messianic process. This is an extremely dangerous
situation of which it is important to be aware."
In an address to the Jerusalem Conference on Feb. 20, Lewis, a longtime
consultant to the U.S. and other Western governments, said Iran was working
to assemble a nuclear weapon. He said Teheran regards a nuclear weapon as in
the interest of Islam.
"It is actively
pursuing nuclear power. Even a non-nuclear Iran is dangerous for Israel, and
it must be carefully watched."
Lewis also warned of an erosion of Israeli democracy even while it
continues to serve as a model for Arab states. He said Israeli
parliamentarians are not held accountable for their policies.
"There is no direct election here, and therefore the representatives are
not held accountable to anyone other than their party leaders and
directorates," Lewis said. "In addition, minor splinter groups are granted
more importance than they deserve proportionally, and the entire system