Since 1993, every prime minister of Israel has, at one time or another, portrayed Iran as the gravest threat confronting his country. Journalists and commentators have generally taken those expressions of alarm, focused especially on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, at face value. But a close examination of the initial articulation and subsequent evolution of the Israeli stance over the 1990s reveals that Israel's claim was in essence an instrumental policy, serving a range of unacknowledged domestic and foreign policy objectives. This paper argues that the evidence indicates that Israel either misrepresented the facts or manipulated them in order to advance its interests on other issues, including its standing with the United States and the concessions required of it by Oslo II.

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