Naama Barak
April 18

In what possibly constituted one of the weirdest nights in the country’s history, Israel faced a massive UAV and missile attack launched by Iran on the night of April 13. 

With millions of people awake in the middle of the night, watching the skies or their TVs, it was a historic event that was thankfully thwarted in a most magnificent manner.

All that midnight worrying left us with plenty of time to wonder how Israeli Iranian relations have gotten to where they are. 

After all, once upon a time, Jerusalem and Tehran were great friends. To learn more about the history of the relationship and the challenges facing it today, we recommend these books.

1.Target Tehran by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar

8 must-read books on the Israel Iran conflict

Target Tehran is the newest Israeli book on Israeli Iranian relations, and specifically the nuclear threat that Tehran poses to its erstwhile ally. 

Based on documents captured in a Mossad raid in Iran and on interviews with American and Israeli intelligence officials, Bob and Evyatar’s book explains what Israel has done to prevent the Iranian nuclear project from succeeding, including cyberwarfare, sabotage and assassinations. A very timely read.

2. The Secret War with Iran by Ronen Bergman 

8 must-read books on the Israel Iran conflict

Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman is one of the country’s leading authorities on the topic. 

The Secret War with Iran is a super comprehensive account. Bergman delves into the clandestine war that Tehran has been fighting with its proxies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, on the one hand, and the Israeli Mossad and American CIA on the other, over the last few decades. 

Based on hundreds of interviews with top intelligence personnel, the book sheds light on shadowy dealings and operations in a riveting style.

3. Light and Shadows: The Story of Iranian Jews by David Yeroushalmi

8 must-read books on the Israel Iran conflict

While it’s hard to fathom that many Israelis used to call Iran home, it’s worth remembering that Iran boasts almost 3,000 years of Jewish history dating back to biblical times. 

Over the years, the Iranian Jewish community has known both hardship and prosperity, oppression and cultural high points – and since the Islamic Revolution, a widespread exodus from an ancient homeland. 

Edited by Tel Aviv University’s Prof. David Yeroushalmi, this book is a collection of essays telling the story of this unique diaspora from a very different angle.   

4. A Raid on the Red Sea: The Israeli Capture of the Karine A by Amos Gilboa

8 must-read books on the Israel Iran conflict

To amp up the feelgood factor from the latest Israeli success against Iran, may we suggest digging deeper into a previous success story – the Israeli takeover of the Karine A, a Palestinian ship stocked to the brim with weapons supplied by Iran, all aimed for Israel. 

The 2002 episode is reminiscent of an action-packed Hollywood movie, complete with Israeli special forces dangling off helicopters, employing krav maga and gaining control of the ship without firing a single shot. Amos Gilboa, one of Israel’s military intelligence top brass, gives an account of the American Israeli cooperation that facilitated this incredible operation.

5. Post-Revolutionary Politics in Iran by David Menashri

8 must-read books on the Israel Iran conflict

Prof. David Menashri is one of Israel’s leading experts on Iran, and his book is a sure way to become better acquainted with the inner workings of our current nemesis. 

The book focuses on internal Iranian developments since the 1979 revolution, as well as their influence on Iran’s foreign policy and regional ambitions. While the book isn’t new, it remains a thorough, knowledgeable analysis of Iran.

6. Israel vs. Iran: The Shadow War by Yaakov Katz and Yoaz Hendel 

8 must-read books on the Israel Iran conflict

Journalists Yaakov Katz and Yoaz Hendel (the latter also a minister in several Israeli governments) focus on the years following the Second Lebanon War and the behind-the-scenes shadow war that was taking place between Israel and Iran and its proxies at the time. 

The book covers key events such as Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the bombing of the Syrian reactor and the multiple assassinations of an Iranian nuclear scientist and Hezbollah leaders. 

The material in this tome is based on interviews with key figures in the Israeli military, making it an expansive analysis of the situation.

7. Titan of Tehran by Shahrzad Elghanayan

8 must-read books on the Israel Iran conflict

In Titan of Tehran, Shahrzad Elghanayan tells the story of her grandfather, Habib Elghanayan, one of the most prominent Iranian Jewish figures of the 20th century. 

Tragically, the self-made industrialist millionaire was executed by Iranian revolutionaries for his ties with Israel. The story sheds light on his surrounding Jewish community, the incredible hardship that they endured following the 1979 revolution and the deterioration of Iran’s friendly ties with Israel.

8 must-read books on the Israel Iran conflict

8. The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva

For those looking for lighter reading, look no further than the adventures of Daniel Silva’s famous fictional Israeli spy, Gabriel Allon. 

This time, Silva delves into the dirty world of European provisions of goods to Iran that end up going toward its nuclear project, wrapped up in a story of art theft, crooked billionaires and skewed morals. 

When you can’t fall asleep at night for fear of an Iranian nuclear bomb, this might prove to be oddly soothing reading.

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Jason Harris

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