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Yael Dayan, with Amlash, Iranian fertility figure,gifted to her by her father General Moshe Dayan
pphoto by Rhonda Spivak

Editor's Report: In the Aftermath of Iran's Attack on Israel, Looking Back at Iran's Once Close Ties with Israel, When Moshe Dayan Visited the Shah of Iran

by Rhonda Spivak, May 1, 2024

As I was watching the ballistic missiles and drones that Iran sent over the skies of Israel, I began thinking about an ancient Iranian fertility goddess, known as an Amlash that I had found one day a number of years ago at the Tel-Aviv apartment of Yael Dayan, the daughter of General Moshe Dayan and Ruth Dayan. General Moshe Dayan had gifted this Iranian Amlash to his daughter.


The Amlash was a very rare item, and I wondered where Moshe Dayan had acquired it.  An archaeologist in Jerusalem Lenny Wolfe explained to me that the Iranians used to make "fake" Amlashes, which were worthless, whereas the genuine Amlashes were valuable. To determine whether Yael’s Amlash was genuine, Lenny broke it apart at the pelvis and sent it to a laboratory in Oxford England for testing. The test concluded that Yael’s Amlash was genuine. I began to wonder where Moshe Dayan had acquired it.


Dayan had a close personal relationship with the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Rena Shah Pahlavi who was overthrown in 1979. It's difficult to think of this, but in the early 1960’s, Iran was a major partner and primary supplier of oil to Israel. The intelligence services of the two countries co-operated significantly and Israel exported military hardware and provided training and other assistance to Iranian military forces.


There were two reported visits that Moshe Dayan made to Iran, one when Dayan was Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and the second was when he visited the Shah in August 1978 during Dayan’s term as Foreign Minister. As Ronen Bergman relates in Secret War with Iran, The Shah admired Moshe Dayan because of his military prowess. Accordingly, an Iranian air force commander who understood in 1978nthat the Shah's base of support was eroding, asked an Israeli military attache in Tehran to invite Dayan to Iran. There Dayan was to advise the Shah about the perilous situation he was facing. Dayan arrived on a commercial flight in disguise, wearing a wig, sunglasses (to hide his signature eyepatch) and a hat. But his meeting with the Shah did not go well. "I left Tehran with the feeling that his many years on the throne had left the Shah with only a tenuous grasp of reality," Dayan wrote. The Shaw was soon overthrown and once the Ayatollah Khameinie took over, Iran became an enemy of Israel.


In these two reported visits to Iran, Dayan never wrote about acquiring an Amlash while in Iran. However, other sources I have read suggested that due to Iran's close relationship with Israel under the regime of the Shah, Israeli leaders, especially Moshe Dayan visited Iran on many secret visits there. When I asked Yael Dayan and Ruth Dayan if they were aware of any such ‘secret’ visits, they indicated they were not, although Dayan would not likely have told his family about these. I concluded that the Amlash that Moshe Dayan gifted to his daughter Yael must have been acquired by him on one of these secret visits to Iran.


Thus Yael’s Amlash was a symbol of a different historical period when Israel had close ties with Iran. It would be difficult for Jewish students today to even imagine such a relationship existed.


"Khamenei's war is not Iran's war or that of the Iranian nation," Reza Pahlavi, the crown prince of Iran, who is living in the  United States wrote on Facebook on April 13,2024.

"Khamenei and his regime have turned Iran into a backeward and isolated country, and by involving the nation and the state in another war, they only add to the misery of Iranians," Pahlavi added.

The path to "lasting peace and security in the Middle East," wrote Pahlavi "is to support the people of Iran who are fighting to reclaim our country and our rightful place in the world."

HA Hellyer, a senior associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute thinktank is quoted by the Gaurdian as follows:“When Iran did attack, it was massively choreographed,” he said, referring to the fact the strike had not only been flagged up in advance but that the US and neighbours had been warned.


“If it had not been so well choreographed, if it had been a complete surprise, I think fewer missiles would have been taken out and others would have got through. And I think while it is definitely a cliche to say Israel is completely indebted and dependent on the US, it is also true that if the US and other allies had not stood alongside Israel we would have seen a different outcome.


“The fact that Israel had to rely on a coalition contains a message: that you can’t imagine it’s always going to be like that.


“I don’t think people have grasped that properly before. That without American support there is really no way for Israel to maintain its security paradigm in [the ]way that it has.”

We can only hope that one day soon there will be regime change in Iran and that this regime change will happen much sooner than later. To assist this in happening, Western countries ought to ratchet up economic sanctions on Iran. Additionally, Canada ought to declare the IRGC a terror organization.

Unfortunately the policy of both President Obama and President Biden has been to appease Iran. Obama and Biden released billions of dollars to Iran, which has only served to stengthen and embolden Iran and its proxies in the region. 

At the same time, the massive Iranian attack arguably demonstrates that Israel can not manage on its own, and will to some extent need to take other countries into account, especially the United States, when making military, political and regional decisions. Israel will need to build an alliance hopefully not to allow Iran to become a nuclear power.

Note that Netanyahu confident journalist Caroline Glick has written on X on April 15, that the Biden administration knew in advance of Iran's response and "approved Iran's missile strike against Israel ahead of time, and then 'helped' Israel intercept the missiles and farbade Israel from responding." 

Regarding Jordan, Jordanian Air Force pilots participated in the campaign to repel Iranian long range missiles and drones, which, of course, helped Israel. But Jordan did this for its own reasons. Iran would like to oust King Abdullah from power, and put in an Iranian proxy in his place, which would mean that Israel would be completely surrounded by hostile Iranain proxies. Abdullah's regime will need to be strengthened to ensure that this does not happen. 

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.