Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We Don't Deny the Holocaust, We Do Accept Israel's Rights

CNN has an interview with an Iranian student in Teheran. His opinions are anecdotal - there's no way of knowing how representative he is - but his description of how the demonstrations are organized is less anecdotal; he tells that they're being organized by a leadership council, and people like himself go when and where the leaders tell them.

The anecdotal part is of course encouraging, were it to be widely accepted:
For about three decades our nation has been humiliated and insulted by this regime. Now Iranians are united again one more time after 1979 Revolution. We are a peaceful nation. We don’t hate anybody. We want to be an active member of the international community. We don’t want to be isolated. Is this much of a demand for a country with more than 2,500 years of civilization? We don’t deny the Holocaust. We do accept Israel’s rights. And actually, we want — we want severe reform on this structure. This structure is not going to be tolerated by the majority of Iranians. We need severe reform, as much as possible.

It occurs to me that if Israelis ever manage to talk to Iranians again, they won't be confronted by the Palestinian narative about how the European Jews colonized the Palestinians land and invented a false history. The Iranians have a long memory, apparently, so we can appeal to the mutual parts of it, which go back a very long time. Cyrus, for example, the Persian emperor who granted the Jews the right to return from Babylonian exile in the 6th century BCE: that's quite a while ago, isn't it, and the Palestinian insistence on denying it denies one of his most famous acts, too, doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

A wonderful anecdote, indeed.
I am crossing my fingers.

4infidels said...

I too would very much love to believe that this is a sentiment with widespread support among the protesters. I also hope that this expresses the true feelings of the person speaking and not just a convenient line for someone seeking American support (after all, they have been told for years that the Jews control America).

However, I am cautious. While Persians are not Iraqi Arabs, we were told in the lead up to, and shortly after, the start of the Iraq war about that country's urban, educated, Westernized population. Iraqi exiles talked of there a tradition of separation of religion and state in Shia Islam, how they would like to establish relations with Israel and how much the Shia of Iraq love the Americans and will be forever grateful for their sacrifices on their behalf.

None of the above mentioned points turned out to be true regarding the Iraqi Shia as a community. While Iran has certainly a more educated and sophisticated middle class and the young people have long expressed admiration for the US and frustration at how much of Iran's resources are sent to (terrorists) abroad, I am still taking a wait and see approach as to the extent to which relations with the US and Israel will improve under new leadership. Anger at the regime and a desire for more opportunities for women is not the same as attacking or repudiating major anti-Semitic and anti-infidel tenets of Shia Islam. Iran's short period of somewhat more enlightened government (everything is relative in the Middle East) under the Shah in parts of the 20th century is the exception, though most analysts are treating the post-1979 theocracy as an anomaly. Theocracy has been the norm in Iran over the past 500 years.

Dr. Andrew Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad, wrote the following on his blog today:

Commenting on the factional protests in Iran, anthropologist Roxanne Varzi, who is touted in a NY Times report today (6/22/09)as having analyzed the methods by which Iran’s Islamic government spreads its ideology, notes how these demonstrations have “remained within religion,” i.e., Iran’s heritage of Shiite Islam. Varzi concludes that the opposition and erstwhile “reformist” movement also expounds “the whole Islamic discourse,” because “[I]t is not meant to be something anti-Islamic.”

But how can a “reformist” movement that shares the same oppressive core ideology—rooted in a half millennium old incarnation of Shiite Islam—overcome what amounts to nothing less than a culture of hate?

The profundity of this Shiite Islam-inspired culture of hate—which even 50 plus years of secular Pahlavi reforms (from 1925-1979) targeting the mullahs, specifically, could not undo...

Avigdor said...

The revolution in the streets of Tehran will be put down. The regime holds all the cards, and still enjoys massive support in rural areas.

What we should strive for, however, is to reach out to the Iranian youth now fighting in the streets and texting in their tweets. Building personal relationships between Jews and young Iranians, and for that matter, Arabs, is how we break through their decades of anti-Israeli programming.

It is amazing that Haaretz and JPost do not have an Arabic edition. All the Arabs news sources have an English edition, making their viewpoints available to the entire world, infusing their perspective into the conversation. The best Israel can hope for is a "balanced" report from ABC News.

The Arabs are fighting a propaganda war on Western turf, complicating the Israeli narrative. Meanwhile, the Arab populations are immune to such complexity.

Think of all the Europeans, Americans and Jews that have bought the Palestinian narrative. Has there been a single Arab or Iranian who has done the same for the Israeli narrative?