Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Iran and Israel
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
American allies Israel, Pakistan, and India. Muslim-majority Middle-Eastern countries Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Western European countries and European Union members the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Italy.
Which two of these groups are comprised of countries which have all signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – the international treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons – and which two of these groups are comprised of countries which possess nuclear weapons?
The correct answer is that American allies Israel, Pakistan, and India possess nuclear weapons but have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; Muslim-majority countries Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Iran do not possess nuclear weapons but have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and European Union members the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Italy do possess nuclear weapons and have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Before going any further, I will mention – as an aside – several facts.
First, North Korea signed the treaty – but withdrew in 2003 – and does not currently possess nuclear weapons. Second, American ally Taiwan has not yet signed the treaty because it is not recognized as a sovereign state, and does not currently possess nuclear weapons.
Third, Turkey has signed the treaty, and does possess nuclear weapons. Turkey, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Italy – although they are considered to be non-nuclear states – have American-made nuclear weapons stationed in their military bases.
But I digress; my primary focus here is to draw attention to the facts that the Islamic Republic of Iran does not currently possess nuclear weapons, and that it has signed the N.N.P.T., while the State of Israel does currently possess nuclear weapons, and that it has not signed the N.N.P.T..
In late January 2011 in Turkey – following a fourteen-month break in negotiations between Iran and the West – nuclear negotiations with Iran broke down as Iranian representatives swore that that country’s uranium enrichment program is solely intended for peaceful purposes, such as the production of nuclear energy. Iranian representatives asserted Iran’s national sovereignty and begged for an end to harmful sanctions imposed on it by the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations.
According to claims made in January 2011 by American representatives to the nuclear talks, Iran’s nuclear development program has slowed, and there is still plenty of time for diplomacy. According to M.O.S.S.A.D. – the State of Israel’s own intelligence agency – even if Iran is currently pursuing a nuclear weapons program, they will not be able to produce a viable nuclear bomb for another three or four years.
It has appeared in recent years as if the U.S. and the State of Israel have been attempting to provoke one another into attacking Iran first. Israel – which has the smaller military, and receives about one-and-a-half billion dollars in American military aid per year – is in the more reasonable and justifiable position to attack Iran, being within the range of Iranian missiles.
Iran’s military budget is only about one-hundredth of the size of that of the United States in proportion to their total government budgets. In terms of real numbers, America’s military budget is seventy-five times larger than Iran’s, and Israel’s military budget is nearly fifty percent larger than that of Iran. Iran’s combined active and reserve military personnel numbers nearly twice that of Israel.
What this means is that – even with the American military aid given to Israel – Israel’s military alone would not be able to defeat Iran without American military backing.
However – although the State of Israel has never publicly admitted to possessing any nuclear weapons at all, Janes Weapons Quarterly alleges that Israel currently possesses approximately eight hundred nuclear weapons. If this information is true, then the State of Israel is the world’s third strongest nuclear military power in terms of the sheer number of nuclear weapons which it possesses.
This makes the prospect of a war between Iran and Israel – in which Israel would have the smaller military in terms of active troops – all the more frightening, being that without American involvement, Israel would likely feel pressured to resort to deploying its nuclear weapons in order to defeat Iran.
In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2006, Ahmadinejad and his country hosted the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust. Also present at the conference were Dr. David Duke – a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and a member of the Louisiana State House – and the Jewish political activist group Neturei Karta – which means “the guardians of the city”; i.e., Jerusalem – which frequently protests the actions and sovereignty of the “Jewish and democratic State” of Israel. President Ahmadinejad’s having attended the Holocaust conference has been used as evidence that he is a denier of the Holocaust.
An allegedly anti-Semitic statement which Ahmadinejad made at some point during this controversy began to be repeated by Western media outlets, which translated the statement as meaning that Iran’s president desired to “wipe Israel off the map” and to “push Israel into the sea.”
When Ahmadinejad spoke at New York City’s Columbia University in September of 2007, he was introduced by Columbia President Lee Bollinger as “a cruel and petty dictator”. During the speech, Ahmadinejad said, “there are no homosexuals in Iran”, which was received by the audience with laughter.
In late September of 2009, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and alleged Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel appeared at a public gathering in New York City to try to drum up anti-Iranian sentiment in the United States.
The Islamic Republic of Iran and its president have taken quite a bit of flack from the West and its media outlets in the last four years. The Western media seems determined to paint Ahmadinejad and his country as brutally repressive of women, homosexuals, Jews and Zionists, members of the Baha’i Faith, and political dissidents. But In President Ahmadinejad’s defense – however – I have several things to say.
First – with regards to the issue of gender – Iran has a high female employment rate as compared to other countries in the region, and its reputation as particularly oppressive of women in the context of Islam is greatly exaggerated.
Second – with regards to homosexuality – Ahmadinejad stated there are no homosexuals in Iran because homosexuality is still very much a taboo there, as it would be in any country in which nearly one hundred percent of citizens belong to one of the three major Abrahamic faiths, all of which express disdain for homosexual acts. The truth is that Iran has something of a “Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell” policy with regards to homosexuality; Iranian homosexuals tend to stay closeted for fear that they will be socially ostracized and / or have violence visited upon them. Also, the execution of homosexuals is much more rare than the Western media would have us believe, and it hardly even happens anymore.
Third – in response to Ahmadinejad’s alleged anti-Semitism, Ahmadinejad himself has stated that he “respects Jews very much”. Leaders of the Jewish activist group Neturei Karta have stated that they trust Ahmadinejad to uphold the safety and autonomy of Jewish communities throughout Iran. This is not to obscure the fact – however – that some Jews whom have left Iran felt resented by the country and pressured to flee.
Fourth – in response to Ahmadinejad’s alleged call for the destruction of the State of Israel – a speaker of Farsi who actually heard the original statement translated it as meaning that the president desired that the political ideology of Zionism – which is the support for Jewish national sovereignty – be erased from the pages of history. The translation reads thus: “this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”.
It can be difficult for us in the West to distinguish Zionism from Judaism. Not all supporters of the State of Israel are Jewish, and not all Jews – such as the members of Neturei Karta – support the State of Israel. Even the late Ayatollah Khomeini was well aware of that difference.
The truth about Jewish-Muslim relations is that – according to long-standing tenets of both Ottoman law and Jewish religious law – Jews are to have communal autonomy governed by religious courts, but sovereign statehood for the Jews is not permitted unless and until Mashiach – the Jewish Messiah – has arrived on Earth and has personally built the State.
Fifth – in response to the claim that Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust – the president has stated that what he rejects and resents about the Holocaust is the dogmatic teaching of unsubstantiated facts about it. He has stated that – with respect to the Holocaust, as with any other matter of intellectual dispute – he prefers the teaching of the controversy. It would be quite preposterous to assert that a person whom had lost relatives in the Holocaust – such as Neturei Karta spokesman Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss – would ever associate with a leader who openly denies that the Holocaust ever occurred, dispute the statistics, logistics, and exploitation of the tragedy though he may.
Sixth, some have alleged that the Baha’i Faith for which Ahmadinejad has been described as having animosity is actually a spy agency for the State of Israel, like the Anti-Defamation League and the America Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Seventh and last, Ahmadinejad oppresses political dissidents, at times even violently. But what government can be said to always refrain from violently oppressing political dissidents? Certainly none that I can think of. Under the presidency of Bill Clinton, the F.B.I. labeled pro-lifers and 2nd-Amendment advocates as potential domestic terrorists.
In short, the oppression of political dissidents and other marginalized groups in Iran is much more of a question of human rights and of U.S.-Middle East diplomacy than it is a question about good versus evil, the war on terrorism, or the spread of nuclear weapons.
But regardless of these equivocations, let’s assume for a moment that the Western media are right, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is brutally oppressive of women, homosexuals, members of other faiths, and political dissidents. If the facts are so, then we must ask: Why is Iran so sexually, religiously, and politically repressive? Certainly it’s the backwards, medieval ways of Islam in general which are to blame for this, right?
In 1953, the C.I.A. overthrew a democratically-elected, socially-progressive leader who nationalized his country’s oil reserves in order to enrich his people. That leader was Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. That year, monarch Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi – also known as the Shah of Iran – gave into the C.I.A.’s plan, issued decrees against Mossadegh and in support of the C.I.A.’s choice as prime minister, Fazlollah Zahedi.
During the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Shah was ousted, and replaced by an Islamic theocratic constitutional republic with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader. It was during Khomeini’s ten-year reign that Iran became increasingly oppressive of women, gays, the Baha’i, and political dissidents. For most of Khomeini’s reign, the president of Iran was Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khamenei. After Khomeini’s death, Khamenei was appointed to succeed him as Supreme Leader.
If the C.I.A. hadn’t intervened in Iran in 1953, and overthrown their popular, socially progressive prime minister, replacing him with another prime minister who was favored by the C.I.A. and the Iranian monarchy – the system of which, I might add, had existed, alongside the position of the Shah, since the days of Cyrus the Great – then perhaps there wouldn’t have been any need for the Iranian people to hate the United States so much that an oppressive theocracy would sound like a better government than one supportive of American political and economic interests.
Perhaps if the kibbutzim – the Jewish agricultural communes in the Land of Palestine – would have remained the practically anarchistic autonomous religious settlements which they, in essence, always were, rather than to solidify into the modern, secular, sovereign Zionist State of Israel which is prohibited by long-standing precedents in Jewish religious and Ottoman law which had provided for decades of peace at a time between Jews and Muslims, then Iran would have no reason whatsoever to fund and arm Hizbullah of Lebanon, which attacks Israeli Jews – other than the provision of the perfectly legitimate means of defense and protection and of public utilities which the Lebanese living near the Israeli border so sorely need.
Two things appear clear in all this.
One is that the United States’ position towards Zionism and towards the State of Israel– especially with regard to the military foreign aid going to that country and with regard to issues of transparency surrounding its nuclear weapons program – needs to be re-evaluated if there is to be consistency in international relations between the United States, the State of Israel, and the various Middle-Eastern countries (especially Iran), as well as in religious relations between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
The other is that if you’re looking for a Middle-Eastern country which has undisclosed nuclear weapons and the ability to threaten the United States, you need look no further than the prematurely-sovereign Zionist State of Israel.
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