The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Israel at War—Iran, Part 3

In the first of two "Israel at War" posts on Iran (here and here), I related a family event that happened 44 years ago. I repeat it here:

I was at a family get-together in very early February, 1979, hosted by my late Aunt, a wonderful woman who also was an unreconstructed liberal in the old-school sense of the word. On that day, the Islamist Ayatollah Khomeni, was en route from France to Iran. His plane was in the air as our family gathered.

Like virtually all liberals at that time, my aunt was thrilled with the ascension of Khomeni, glad that the "evil dictator" Shah of Iran had been overthrown to be replaced by an Islamist government headed by the Ayatollah.

During a discussion on the Middle East, my Aunt asked me what I thought of the situation in Iran and of Khomeni.

I smiled, and then said, "Shoot the plane down."

Aghast, my aunt frowned and made the argument that "Iranians and the world" would be much better off under the vaunted Ayatollah, a man of peace. Liberals and the American media treated Khomeni as a hero and a savior of the Iranian people.

History provides an unequivocal answer as to whether I or my aunt was correct.

In my first post, I characterized Iran this way:

... a repressive, Islamist dictatorship (like many Muslim countries, unfortunately) that imprisons dissidents and represses its people. As a hegemon in the ME, it supports (with money and arms) Islamist terror groups like Hamas and Hezballah, who it uses as 'cat's paws' to attack Israel. It has repeatedly called for the annihilation of the Jewish state, the murder of Jews, and the defeat of the Great Satan, the USA. It is a cancer in world affairs. 

And in my second post, I wrote:

The best case result for the West is the destruction of the current ruling dictatorship within Iran. That's easy to say, but extremely difficult, even though, unlike the palestinians in Gaza who support Hamas in significant numbers, a substantial percentage of the Iranian people have shown signs for years that they hate the regime and want it gone. Barack Obama had a golden opportunity to help them during the Green revolution in 2009, but threw it away—one of many of his foreign policy disasters.

Along with many professional geopolitical analysts, I believed that Iran had their puppet, Hamas, commit its atrocities to submarine the Trump-initiated accords (resurrected after three years by the Biden administration) between Saudi Arabia and Israel. I still think that's true.

But Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh suggest another reason that may have had as much to do with the Hamas barbarism as its potential for geopolitical impact. They suggest that:

... a fundamental motivation of Iran’s theocracy [is] anti-Semitism. At least three generations of radical Iranian clerics have viewed Israel as illegitimate, usurping sacred Islamic lands in the name of a pernicious ideology advanced by history’s most devilish and stubborn people. Using the language of French Marxism, they call Israel a Western “colonial-settler state,” and they believe Jews guide American imperialism in the Middle East. In this struggle between good and evil, Muslims have a religious obligation to resist Israel and global Jewry.

The founder of the revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, set the standard for the Islamic Republic of Iran. In his book “Islamic Government,” he wrote, “From the very beginning, the historical movement of Islam had to contend with the Jews, for it was they who first established anti-Islamic propaganda and engaged in various stratagems, and as you can see, this activity continues down to the present.” He depicted Jews as distorters of the Quran, financial hoarders, and agents of the West.

Khomeini’s anti-Semitic themes were picked up by his two most important disciples, former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the “pragmatic” cleric par excellence, and the current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. Rafsanjani published a book, “Israel and Beloved Jerusalem,” claiming that resistance to the Jewish state was the sacred duty of “every Muslim and anyone who believes in God.” Judaism for Rafsanjani was irretrievably “immersed in colonialism” and “Zionism is the essential partner of global arrogance [America].” Messrs. Rafsanjani and Khamenei green-lighted the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, which left 85 dead and 300 wounded.

It's interesting that the current leftist meme that calls Israel a “colonial-settler state” (an absurd characterization that is historically false), was derived from Marxist ideology. Maybe that's why Western leftists have been driven into hysteria over the current Hamas-Israel war, have dropped all pretense of being "anti-Zionist," and evolved into pure-bred anti-Semites.

But leftist protesters, as obnoxious and loud as they are, along with their many supporters in the propaganda media, are not the biggest enablers of Iran's dangerous theocracy. Western left-wing leaders and politicians come first. Gerecht and Takeyh write:

Western statesmen and journalists have often seen the Iranian theocracy’s anti-Semitism as anti-Zionism, something turned on and off for Arab audiences by more sophisticated Persians. Many have consistently tried to isolate the regime’s anti-Semitism to a group of Iranian “hardliners”—even though these same men have always held power. Obviously it is easier for Barack Obama and Joe Biden to envision their nuclear diplomacy with Tehran as stabilizing and possibly transformative when Iran’s rulers aren’t seen as diehard, lethal anti-Semites. Imagine, however, if the Islamic Republic’s anti-Semitism were transmuted into a murderous creed targeting non-Jewish Americans? Would these presidents have been so keen to give billions in sanctions relief and seek a new modus vivendi with the U.S.? 

Shockingly, I suspect that the answer might be "yes." Barack Obama, a politician who is idolized by the modern American Left, was among the first to have the hubris to believe that a repressive, Islamist dictatorship driven by a core of anti-Semitic sentiment could be dealt with using diplomacy. His foolhardy efforts to appease the Mullahs showed a degree of moral decay (and dare I say it, overt anti-Israel sentiment) that exists to this day.

The hard men of Iran must be dealt with—not with diplomacy, but with violence, delivered preferably by their own beleaguered people or by an outside actor. There was a time when I though the West might use Israel as their 'cats paw' in delivering violence to Iran. But the West has devolved into a weak and corrupt actor on the world stage—one that gladly allows evil to exist and flourish, as long as succor is provided to those who it deems "oppressed" and in need of "humanitarian aid."

Iran's Mullahs smile, surprised by the utter naivete and weakness they see, and don't change a thing in their inexorable march toward a world that is dominated by radical Islam.