Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What Jewish Leftists Can Do for Iranians

"A story authored by a prominent U.S. neo-conservative regarding new legislation in Iran allegedly requiring Jews and other religious minorities to wear distinctive colour badges circulated around the world this weekend before it was exposed as false," writes Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service ("Iran Target of Apparent Disinformation Ploy," 22 May 2006). The neo-con in question is Amir Taheri, so keep this name in mind, in case he will be up to more mischief. And he probably will, with connections like these: "Taheri is a member of Benador Associates, a public relations firm that lists a large number of leading neo-conservatives, including American Enterprise Institute (AEI) associates Richard Perle, David Frum, Michael Ledeen, Michael Rubin, and Joshua Muravchik, among its clients. Major boosters of the war with Iraq, Benador clients, who also include former Central Intelligence Agency chief James Woolsey and former Israeli minister Natan Sharansky, have also called for the Bush administration to take a hard line against Iran" ("Iran Target of Apparent Disinformation Ploy," 22 May 2006).

Thankfully, the lone Jewish MP in Iran's parliament, Maurice Motamed, immediately issued a strong condemnation of Taheri's lie: "One Jewish representative in the Iranian parliament, Maurice Motamed, insisted that colour requirements for ethnic minorities had 'never been proposed or discussed in parliament', let alone approved. 'Such news,' he told the Associated Press, 'is an insult to religious minorities here'" ("Iran Target of Apparent Disinformation Ploy," 22 May 2006).

There are several things that Jewish leftists in the United States can do to counter psy-op like this:
  • Speak up/write about Iran as a Jewish activist/intellectual, and encourage others to do so.

  • Contact the Jewish community in Iran, and invite them to send reps to the US on a speaking tour (I realize getting visas for them would be a hassle, but probably doable).

  • Get lefty Jewish organizations to send their reps to Iran to talk to people in the Jewish community there and report back to the US.
Given Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's execrable flirtations with Holocaust revisionism, it would be only Jewish leftists with a nearly infinite capacity to forgive who might even consider undertaking jobs like the above. Yet, those who do so can make a great deal of difference in the citizen diplomacy department at a time when Iranians, including Jewish Iranians, need all the international help they can get.


Babak said...

With regard to President AhmadiNejad's comments on the holocaust, much depends on your outlook: if you believe that six million figure is an infallible dogma that must not be challenged, then certainly his comments are offensive. However, if you believe that any extrapolated figure is necessarily conjecture and subject to academic scrutiny, then his comments are logically valid and anti-holocaust denial laws are an affront to reason.

What exactly do you think his position on the holocaust is?

I ask because this is often misrepresented. Unlike Abu Mazen, who asserts in his Doctoral thesis that the figure is around a million, President AhmadiNejad does not enter into such conjecture. Although, it is certainly the case that he is skeptical that the figure is anywhere near the region of six million; so incidentally was Chief Rabbi Sacks in 1996.

President AhmadiNejad's holocaust denial is at the most a refusal to accept as fact that which cannot be proved; to enter into conjecture; and to accept a Zionist essential juxtaposition to existential events. Central to this is his demand that Palestine should not suffer for the crimes of Europeans and that there is no logical or moral corollaries between a European genocide and a Jewish state in Palestine.

It should be pointed out that there is grave yard evidence that over three million Iranians died under Allied occupation during the Second World War; and US Gov documents suggest that over eight million died during British rule between 1917-1919. President AhmadiNejad does not enter into conjecture regarding this matter either, yet no one is suggesting that he denies that these genocides took place.

Babak said...

Iran's Jewish community enjoys good relations with what are usually referred to the as the religious conservatives in Iran, yet sadly are not trusted by the majority of the population, who fail to make the distinction between Zionist and Jew. Yet Jews were martyred with their Muslim brothers in the Iran-Iraq war.

Moreover, foreign Jews, along with the Shahist Iranian Jewish exiles (Taheri and co) often misrepresent the situation facing Iran's Jews. The question of a Jewish race does not enter the equation in Iran, Iranian Jews are Iranian, and the majority of Iranians will have had some Jewish ancestor in their linage.

Thus, Iranian Jews like Mr Motamed have little interest in secular or atheist Jews. The Iranian Jewish community is an Orthodox Jewish community, that enjoys a lot of religious autonomy, including religious courts.

Any foreign Jewish engagement would no doubt be met with skepticism if the intent was to speak for Iranian Jews. Mr Motamed is a firm supporter of the Islamic revolution and has previously made the point that although in the years proceeding the Islamic revolution there was an exodus of Jews from Iran, the current Iranian Jewish community is Jewish and not Jewish in name only, as was often the case under the Shah.