October 28, 2005

Iranian President Reaffirms "Final Solution", Reveals Tehran's Weakness

Patriotism is not the last refuge of a scoundrel, antisemitism is. The great unifying theme of the Islamic world is hatred of Israel. Thus, when the President of Iran calls for a final solution for the Jewish state in the Middle East, and then reiterates that position again today, it is not simply an act of antisemitism, it is an act of desperation. It reveals the weakness of the Iranian theocracy's position.

Change is coming to the Middle East. Like the smell of ozone after a lightning strike it is in the air. The mullahs in Iran sense it is coming and they are afraid. Very afraid.

And what do those who have a stake in maintaining power do to distract the masses from their own plight? Blame the Jews.

There really is no "Middle Eastern culture", only "Middle Eastern cultures". Persian, Turks, Kurds and Assyrians speak different languages and have unique traditions and cultures. The "Arab street" does not exist, but there are "Arab streets". Hip-hop music, I am told, has become the language of protest for young Gazans, and while terrorist videos are sold in markets throughout the region sales of pornography are much higher.

But, if there is one thing that can unify the many Middle Eastern cultures and the many Arab streets, it is antisemitism. Nasser did not become an icononclastic hero in the Middle East for the Aswan project, he became a hero because he "stood up" to Israel.

Secular liberals, Islamists, nationalists, and even Christians in the Middle East all agree that Israel has no right to exist. Some realists might believe that peace with Israel is inevitable, but not that it is right. In the eyes of the secular left in the Middle East, and like their European and American counterparts, Israel is the last bastion of Wetern colonialism and imperialsim. To Islamists and nationalists it represents a sort of emasculation to the collective psyche. And to the long-oppressed Christians of the region it represents a source of destabilization used by their oppressors as another excuse to crack down on them. Israel, it is widely believed, is the source of injustice in the region.

So, when the President of Iran calls for the destruction of Israel the reaction from the street is a foregone conclusion: they will support him. He knows this. He is not stupid.

Iran has dreams of becoming a regional superpower. They seek nuclear power, for instance, not because the oil-rich nation really needs it, but because nuclear power represents something bigger. It puts Iran on par with the "big boys" of the industrialized world.

Iran's main disadvantage for a regional hegemony is that it is an Islamist nation unlike the larger Islamist movement. It is Shia, and compared to the Islamist theories of bin Laden or Zarqawi relatively progressive. So, what can the bin Ladenists and the followers of the Ayattolah agree upon? The destruction of the "Zionist entity."

More than this, the mullahs of Iran aren't simply trying to elevate themselves among the jihadis, they are trying to elevate themselves in the eyes of the the entire Middle East. The move to a theocratic state is probably not a great unifying theme among a region as diverse as the Middle East, but a move to wipe-out Israel is.

Even if it is only rhetoric, it is powerful rhetoric. It is the kind of rhetoric that unifies. It is the kind of rhetoric that moves people to admiration and adoration. It is the kind of rhetoric that gives power both within a country's own borders and beyond. And when a regime feels itself vulnurable, its first move will be to bolster its power.

Expect more anti-Israeli speeches in the future. As the tides of change sweep through the Middle East we should find such rhetoric more and more common.

The last resort of the scoundrals that dominate the region will be to verbally attack Israel.

[PS-still on blog sabbatical, but felt this needed saying]

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 09:12 AM | Comments |