After reading Mr. Ahmadinejad's inflammatory remarks about Israel and recent news media reports that Israel is preparing to strike Iran's nuclear facilities with small tactical nuclear weapons, I personally felt an urgency to write this opinion piece hoping that the two sides might cool off the rhetoric some. Israel won't be "wiped off" the face of earth and both the Israeli government and her civic population would not truly consider using nuclear weapons against the ancient and peace loving people of Iran.
I know these words will tick off some of my fellow Iranian Americans. However, in the interests of the greater Iranian Nation and peace in the Middle East, I have to speak of a truth that has long been kicked aside for political and ideological reasons. I am a Moslem, a Shiite Moslem. I believe that Israel is the closest ally Iran has in the region. A look at the ancient history of relationship between Old Persian Empire and Jewish Nation will highlight this fact.
When Cyrus the Great defeated the Babylonians, he set the Jewish Nation free to choose their own destiny. He had wisely realized that religion and fate are matters of deep personal choice and separate from politics. Cyrus knew that the diversity of his vast empire would strengthen his empire, similar to the present United States of America, where immigrant talents from across the globe add to American society as a whole. Because of Cyrus's true respect for the Jews, The Jewish Nation came to respect Cyrus the Great to such a degree as to call him a "Messiah." Since ancient time, the Jews have been friendly towards Persians- the current day Iranians.
When Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979, the Mullahs saw it as convenient to take an anti-Jewish state foreign policy. There were, and perhaps still are, varied reasons for this policy, the least of which was domestic consumption, to deceive the Moslem masses in Iran so the regime could solidify their grip on power. After all, the Mullahs claimed a monopoly on Islam. Anyone slightly against their domestic or foreign policy was dubbed "corrupt on earth." So, the anti-Israeli foreign policy became the cornerstone of the "Islamic Republic."
The Islamic regime's open animosity towards Israel supposedly originated in the Mullahs' defense of Palestinians' right to an independent state. In reality, it is solely politically motivated. Not too far from Iran, in Chechnya, Moslems are being targeted by Russian security forces; nevertheless, Iran's government has always turned their face the other way and pretended they did not see the systematic attacks on Moslems in Chechnya. Why do the Mullahs in Iran supposedly defend the Palestinian cause but not the Chechnyan cause? You guessed right. The mullahs need Russia's backing. Defending the Mullahs' version of Islam takes the back seat here.
Since Iran's revolution of 1979, the clergy have done everything in their power to block peace between Palestinians and Jews. A peace deal would weaken the Mullah's image amongst Moslems and Arabs in the region. So, at a cost to the Palestinian nation, the Mullahs will prevent this peace so they can pursue their expansionist foreign policy in the region. As strange as it may sound to average reader, I would suggest to you that friendship between Iran and Israel is in the long term best interests of everyone in the Middles East including, the Islamic region. A strong Islamic regime in Tehran, friendly towards Israel, would benefit the Palestinian cause.
Nevertheless, the Islamic regime's policy towards Israel is not necessarily shared by everyone in Iran. And those who share this view and are in line with the Islamic government are influenced by the massive propaganda machine in place since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Another reason for dislike of Israel amongst some Iranians is the harsh treatment of Palestinian people by the IDF. Iranians, in general, support underdogs and have a sense of fairness toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It is conceivable that an equitable and peaceful resolution of this conflict would hinder the autocratic regimes in the Middle East. On the other hand, a peaceful and just resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would boost Israel's credit not only in the Middle East, but also in the world, and isolate anti peace regimes in the region.
In a recent trip to the old country, Iran, I stopped in a small grocery store to purchase a bottle of water. A heavy-set bearded man walked in and asked the shopkeeper if he carried 'dates.' The shopkeeper checked the shopper's outfit and his beard, most likely resembling a supporter of the regime in the eye of the shopkeeper, and said in a sarcastic tone of voice, "Our government has sent all the 'dates' to Palestinian folks so they can use them as rocks and throw them at Israeli soldiers." The shopkeeper was clearly reflecting the sentiment of millions of Iranians that their government should spend the nation's revenues inside Iran for the Iranian people.
Another reason for the anti-Israeli sentiment in Iran is the Left. The minority leftist forces in Iran have historically maintained a position of support of Palestinian people; therefore, they must keep an "anti-Zionist" stand, or what they refer to as "anti 'Zionism". It is a sort of fashion to be anti-Israel to look fair and just. I believe there are things Israeli's can do to change that image amongst Iranians, for the better.
The fact of the matter is that most Iranians prefer that their government have a hands-off policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and instead, tend to local, domestic needs of Iranians inside Iran. The social problems in Iran are insurmountable now. Some urgent social issues are unemployment, uncontrollable drug use, prostitution, run-away inflation, and shortages in affordable housing. Mr. Ahmadinejad's campaign promises have not materialized yet. Iranian folks inside the country-and outside Iran for that matter-prefer that the aide to foreign governments and groups be halted and money be spent in Iran. Almost everyone you speak with in Iran would want a halt to foreign aid.
I am not here to defend Israel's harsh treatment of Palestinians, and neither do I wish to attack the Islamic Republic, as much as I am opposed to the latter's interventionist's policy of "exporting" Islamic revolution. I do want to establish the point that the Iranian Nation is better off with Israel as a friend rather than a foe. I am willing to speculate that one reason the IDF has not bombed Iran's nuclear facilities is the deep consideration of the Jewish Nation for the people of Iran. I certainly hope I am right, and wish to see that Israel keeps exercising a restraint policy towards Iran.
Another point I'd like to make here is that the U.S. foreign policy of bullying Iran is non-productive. After March 20, 2003, when coalition forces entered Iraq and toppled Saddam, the leaders of the Islamic Republic truly panicked and took the spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, Khomeini's replacement, into hiding. Then, through the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which is overseeing U.S. interests in Iran, Iranian authorities, with the Leader's blessing, crafted a letter of peace gestures toward the U.S. and Israel. The letter offered to recognize Israel's right to exist, non-conditional talks with the U.S., removal of support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and other major concessions. Unfortunately, President Bush's White House rejected the peaceful offer under the false impression that the Islamic Regime is near a point of being toppled. This, undoubtedly, was another foreign policy blunder on the part of the White House.
The rejection of the peaceful offer by the ruling clergy in Iran left the regime with no choice but to pursue a nuclear energy program as a means of survival. I am willing to bet that if we had accepted the Iranian offer, we would have been in a better position in Iraq today. But that is open for discussion.
The thought of a nuclear attack on Iran by Israel is as sickening and horrific as is Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement that 'Israel's days are numbered.' We need brave leaders in Iran who realize how grave the consequences of their confrontational foreign policies might be.
... Payvand News - 2/7/07 ... --