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U.S. business must realize Iran isn't just Israel's devil at the door

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Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

When the leaders of one country call another country of 7 million souls a “tumor” that has to be cut out — and someday will be — business around the world ought to take notice, you'd think.

Give it long odds if you will, but there'd be nothing like nuclear war, starting “small” and spreading, to smash up global prosperity pretty good. Not even counting the blood and tears, just the dollars, yen and euros.

And this very apocalypse is openly threatened.

By comparison Americans are regularly invited to sweat the small stuff. How we can't, for instance, balance budgets anymore, wallowing in absurd amounts of debt even as we spend and misspend.

Yet business people in general seem casual about (or can't bear thinking about) nuclear missiles arcing through the globally-warmed air.

While elections, sports and show biz divert us, Iran keeps threatening a fellow member of the United Nations, Israel, with not just destruction — obliteration. Just the sort of thing for nuclear bombs, which Iran says — and nobody believes — it is not aiming to produce in its otherwise inexplicable underground spinning works.

Somehow these threats do not make the front pages or the news on television anymore.

Business seems unaware of them. Or if aware, it attributes the kill-you-talk to “crazies” not to be taken at their word. If repetition makes the Big Lie believable, it makes the Big Threat monotonous. Just shut it off.

Yet there was Iran's “supreme leader,” the Ayatollah Khatamei, marking the end of a recent holiday by stoking his audience's rage not against what really stifles them — a theocratic police-state — but the old phantom, Israel.

The Jewish state — just because it's Jewish, and a state — is a “cancerous tumor,” he foamed, the biggest problem confronting Muslim countries today.

The biggest problem? And it's not how Muslims slaughter Muslims every day in every way? They do it at holidays, market days and funerals, and in the very mosques of the faith. While Muslim life and limb are protected in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, thousands perish in civil wars of the “Arab spring” against dictators, troops or rebels of the very same religion. A Muslim can be slain for turning Christian. Or “dishonoring” a family by a disapproved choice in love. Yet Israel is called the tumor.

The New Jersey-sized sliver at the eastern end of the Mediterranean takes up far less than 1 percent of all the lands of Islam. Also, far less than 1 percent of the world's billion Muslims.

But unforgivably the Israelis took a desert and made a prosperity, one of the top 20 in the world. And mainly by following paths open to anyone and everyone: education, science, democracy, property rights, work effort — and business.

Imagine a business-based modern economy being likened to cancer.

If the Big C it is, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad keeps prescribing radical surgery as the cure — and nobody dare voice a second opinion. “The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists,” says the beady-eeyed doomsayer. “In the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists.”

Americans too, notice he said.

Isn't it time U.S. business realized this isn't just Israel's devil at the door?

Jack Markowitz writes Thursdays. Email

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