Usually when it comes to Benjamin Netanyahu’s paranoid ramblings about Iran, most analysts assume that he uses Iran as a fictional threat to distract people from the real issue he should concern himself with, and that is peace with Palestine. That’s because when someone can be elected as the Prime Minister of a democratic country, you expected to have minimal political competence. But listening to him, whether to his address to congress or to his interview with BBC I have come to the conclusion that there is evident in his thought a very strong and irrational fear and hatred of Iran.
Reading through Netanyahu’s speech, we see that he lies plentifully and shamelessly about Iran and relies on the absolute ignorance of his audience, and reveals a strong hatred of Iranian people, and advocates policies that would be disastrous to Iran and the region. This speech reveals Netanyahu to be a mindless warmonger and a reactionary radical right-winger.
I have come to the conclusion that Netanyahu really does consider Iran an existential threat against Israel, and that is not merely a propaganda he sells to Israelis and Americans, and that is indeed very depressing.
What really showed me that this is true was the way he dismissively characterized the entire history of Iran as enemies of Jewish people.
This is what he said:
We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies.
The plot was foiled. Our people were saved.
Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. He tweets that Israel must be annihilated — he tweets. You know, in Iran, there isn’t exactly free Internet. But he tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.
But Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime.
First of all, dude, that’s fiction, get a grip.
But more importantly, in the same book of fiction you’re quoting, it’s the Persian Emperor Xerxes who gets angry at Haman and kills the conspirators and saves the Jews. Also in the same book of fairy tales another Persian Emperor Cyrus conquers the Babylon and emancipates the Jews and gives them religious freedoms, and he is treated like this holy figure.
Now, I’m not a fan of ancient Persian Emperors, unlike uber-nationalistic Iranians. Neither am I someone to deny that we have a problem with antisemitism. But the point is that the situation is complex. I have mentioned before that according to statistics by ADL Iran is the least antisemitic nation in Middle East, although Iran is still much more antisemitic than many democratic countries. We do discriminate against Jews, but at the same time they are able to live here and have MPs in the Parliament. And then there’s the inglorious fact that to most Persians, Arabs are our number one enemy and not the Jews.
What I’m saying is this: I acknowledge that Iranians have a lot of problem with bigotry in general and antisemitism in particular. That said, Netanyahu clearly wants to picture the whole history of Iran as an existential threat to the Jewish people, and to brush the entire complexities away, and to present a very tribalistic picture of evil Persians versus the poor Jews.
I’m equally angry at my own regime for this. Yes, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, has both denied the Holocaust and has called for the eradication of Israel, and he has loosed upon the world a clown called Ahmadinejad for eight years to say every bigoted thing he could in the presence of the international community.
Enmity towards Israel is embedded in the very nature of the Islamic Republic, and this enmity is exaggerated, hostile, and more importantly a taboo – if you’re inside Iran you cannot challenge it or you will risk your political career. (Funnily enough it was Ahmadinejad’s closest ally who challenged this enmity the most).
But ultimately, this hot hatred of Israel doesn’t define Iran but a certain group of Iranian Islamic extremists. For all I know most Iranians are completely indifferent to Israel, are pissed off that our money goes to Lebanon and Gaza instead of our own problems, and if anyone can turn the Iranian public opinion against Israel it’s Netanyahu not Khamenei.
All that said, even the Iranian regime poses no existential threat to Israel. If you think the Iranian regime is trying to build nuclear weapons to blow up Israel you’re entirely ignorant. All the anti-Israeli rhetoric simply has internal use, in order to give their radical supporters some sense of an enemy. For all their radicalism, the Iranian regime knows that ultimately our main rival is Saudi Arabia and not Israel.
Everyone with a minimal knowledge of Khamenei knows that he will never pose a real threat to Israel, and it’s laughable to suggest that he plans to really destroy it.
Problem with Netanyahu is that he completely reproduces the same tone and the same tribalism of people like Khamenei. Khamenei tries to picture Israel as this evil foreign enemy with no other plan but to oppose Islam, and Netanyahu does the same with Iran. The same irrational hatred is seen in both.
Netanyahu also has a habit of constantly comparing Iran with the Nazis. I thought that would be an insult to the victims of Holocaust. How can you trivialize their suffering this way? Iran is not even the worst country for Jews among Muslim majority countries.
But let’s get back to his address. The rest follows a series of half-truths wrapped up in lies and deceptions, and it’s very clear that Netanyahu’s only real purpose is to make sure Iran and USA cannot amend their relations.
Netanyahu must know (?) that the reformists and pragmatists want to reconcile with the West, and that Iranian people support them. Netanyahu calls for sanctions, more sanctions, and they will not slow down Iran’s nuclear program (as they haven’t) but hurt people even more. Like Collin Powell and Dick Cheney, Netanyahu lies about Iran’s capacity, contradicts what intelligence agencies say about Iran including the Mossad, and all of these will hurt Iranian people.
The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship.
That year, the zealots drafted a constitution, a new one for Iran. It directed the revolutionary guards not only to protect Iran’s borders, but also to fulfill the ideological mission of jihad. The regime’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, exhorted his followers to “export the revolution throughout the world.” […] Iran’s founding document pledges death, tyranny, and the pursuit of jihad. And as states are collapsing across the Middle East, Iran is charging into the void to do just that.
I know that this “heir to the world’ greatest civilization” is a favorite line of neo-cons to fool Iranian-American racists, but it holds even less water after you just equated us with 2500 years of Jew-hatred.
The Revolutionary Guards are certainly a very evil organization, no doubt about that. But no, our constitution does not say that. And there’s no pledging about death and tyranny and jihad.
Iran’s constitution is deeply flawed, and if it’s not amended Iran will never be democratic, but it is actually a progressive document compared to Iran’s current status, and that’s why Iranian reformists focus 0n constitution and ask for it to be fully implemented, because that would improve our status considerably.
Next Netanyahu enumerates Iran’s multiple crimes in the past. Again, he mixes true things with lies. I have no idea why he does that, Islamic Republic has a very stained record he can rely on, he doesn’t need to make stuff up.
Let’s look at them:
- Iran took dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran = true
- murdered hundreds of American soldiers, Marines, in Beirut = I actually don’t know what this is supposed to refer to. There was one attack done by a radical Islamist group which is opposed to the regime, but maybe he’s referring the attack committed by Hezbollah, in which case Iran has some indirect responsibility
- was responsible for killing and maiming thousands of American service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan = mostly false. Iran helped USA in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The Mahdi Army did fight USA for a short while, but again here Iran’s responsibility is more indirect than direct.
- It blew up the Jewish community center and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires = not proven, most likely Iran’s involvement is too exaggerated.
- It helped Al Qaida bomb U.S. embassies in Africa = utter bullshit
- It even attempted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, right here in Washington, D.C. = What happened to that, by the way?
- In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. = Exaggeration and simplification
And why Netanyahu thinks making Iran more isolated and poorer would improve that? Yes, Iran is guilty of supporting Shiite groups in a sectarian manner, but wouldn’t the solution to that be peace and diplomacy?
Now, like all other reactionaries, Netanyahu shows his true colors when he goes against Rouhani:
Now, two years ago, we were told to give President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif a chance to bring change and moderation to Iran. Some change! Some moderation!
Rouhani’s government hangs gays, persecutes Christians, jails journalists and executes even more prisoners than before.
Last year, the same Zarif who charms Western diplomats laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh. Imad Mughniyeh is the terrorist mastermind who spilled more American blood than any other terrorist besides Osama bin Laden. I’d like to see someone ask him a question about that.
Six years ago Obama promised us diplomacy! Now Obama’s administration invites an extremist right-winger to unleash a verbal diarrhea of lies and paranoia on the Capitol Hill! No, wait, Obama didn’t do that, his petulant children of political enemies did, and they did it out of spite and hatred of Obama with the intention of weakening him. Just like the radical right-wingers of Iran who control the judiciary do all of the stuff he accuses Rouhani of doing, and they do it simply to weaken Rouhani and his base.
There’s a street in Iran named after Mughniyeh. He is treated like a saint by the regime supporters. Zarif cannot afford not to do that. I don’t know what Zarif thinks in his private thoughts about Hezbollah, but no Iranian foreign minister can afford not to do that. To hold that against Zarif is completely irrational.
Also it’s touching that Netanyahu is showing concern for gays given the fact that he is willing to enter coalitions with homophobic parties.
Why Netanyahu goes after Rouhani? Rouhani wants Iran to be pragmatist, to follow a sensible foreign policy and to ease restrictions inside. That should be good for Israel too, no?
Isn’t it that in spite of his protests, ultimately he is a covert ally of the Revolutionary Guards, because both of them want to sacrifice the well-being of people to make sure this enmity between Iran and the USA to continue for their own interests?
Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of “Death to America,” that same America that it calls the “Great Satan,” as loud as ever.
Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America.
That’s utter nonsense. Yes, the uber-Islamist minority who go to Friday Prayers shout “Death to America”, but right now someone with even a passing familiarity with Iran can see that anti-American attitude belongs to a very fringe (but sadly still very powerful) minority. Even conservatives want reconciliation with Iran now.
This regime cannot resist the internal demand for making amends with the USA, from people and from pragmatic officials, for too long.
But this reveals Netanyahu’s real motive for all of this masquerade. He simply wants to sabotage diplomacy.
Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire.
In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.
That’s just asinine. I don’t who but the most ignorant of the ignorant can think this comparison between Iran and IS is not laughable. No, Iran doesn’t want to conquer the entire world.
This image of Iran as the ultimate devil is very funny. Iran is a weak country, we are embroiled in economic problems. We simply want to avert the crisis. Yes, the most radical fringe of the regime does say things like that, but they have never been the dominant discourse within the regime, let along among the people.
The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always remember — I’ll say it one more time — the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen.
Oh, so now we’re worse than IS. Got it.
But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them.
That’s another lie. Actually a deal is the only thing that can prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb. Only when Iran decides to cooperate with IAEA and the international community there can be enough oversight to guarantee that, and Iran has already done that.
He then goes on to say that the deal will ensure that Iran will still have a nuclear program, and that after a decade the restrictions will end. Well, that’s what a deal is called. You can’t just bully nations to forgo their rights to have a program because you have a hate-boner for a country. Of course he keeps saying that the program will massive, but it won’t be, he’s exaggerating again.
But unlike Netnyahu’s lies, no other way we can assure that Iran doesn’t have a bomb. In 2003 Iran was willing to deal with the West, but the West wasn’t, and sanctions were imposed. Iranians suffered but the nuclear program wasn’t slowed.
Problem is, Iran already has the knowledge and the capacity to make sure its nuclear program continues. That genie is out of the lamp. A defeat of diplomacy means that pragmatists are defeated, that radicals have power, and the radicals are motivated by spite, and they will say “fuck you” to Iranian people and will build their bomb.
Netanyahu is paving their way. Netanyahu is -wittingly or unwittingly – helping Iranian radicals to build their bombs.
I can’t emphasize this enough.
So why would anyone make this deal? Because they hope that Iran will change for the better in the coming years, or they believe that the alternative to this deal is worse?
Well, I disagree. I don’t believe that Iran’s radical regime will change for the better after this deal. This regime has been in power for 36 years, and its voracious appetite for aggression grows with each passing year. This deal would wet appetite — would only wet Iran’s appetite for more.
Actually, the 36 year history proves the opposite of that. Iran has been better. Iran has had extended its hand towards the west on occasions. And Iran is moving towards a better place, although now it is much more difficult than ever. But to say that in its 36 years Islamic Republic has been the same is another lie.
And after this deal the moderates will be strengthened, and if nothing extraordinary happens this deal will make Iran more pragmatic.
Now we’re being told that the only alternative to this bad deal is war. That’s just not true.
The alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.
And by a “much better deal” he means “a deal Iran can’t accept because the radicals inside Iran would not let it”.
Netanyahu wants war. His version of Iranian deal is like his version of Palestinian state. He makes an offer that means complete surrender of the other part and no concession made to them which he knows will not be accepted at all. Because he wants war. Because he knows that his ilk can only survive in an atmosphere of fear. Because he is a radical right-winger.
I hope that the people of Israel remove this person from the office, and they elect someone who will focus on peace with Palestine and a two-state solution.
Image credit: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs