Optimism in Teheran
Mar. 5, 2009
, THE JERUSALEM POST
It isn't everyday we're given insight into the strategic thinking of Iran's
supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But on Wednesday he addressed the Fourth
International Conference for Support of Palestine in Teheran. Among the
luminaries rumored to be in attendance was Hizbullah's Hassan Nasrallah.
Iranian presidents come and go; the supreme leader, who sits atop the regime's
political, judicial and military hierarchy, rules for life.
Khamenei professed to be in an optimistic mood following the "amazing military
and political defeats" Israel suffered in the Second Lebanon War and more
recently in Gaza. Still, he was bitter about what the "Zionist criminals" did -
"impaling of infants" for instance. Fortunately, he noted, "advances in
technology" (read al-Jazeera) have exposed "the magnitude" of Israel's
He denounced Muslim "pragmatists" who, in the mistaken belief that Israel was
too strong to destroy, have been willing to temporarily accept its existence.
And he had even less patience for those who genuinely "entertained hopes of
After 60 years of "occupation" the "illegitimacy" of the Zionist regime stands
undiminished. The Holocaust must be denied because it "served as an excuse for
the usurpation of Palestine." On the bright side, he noted that Israel's image
has never been more tarnished and lauded the "spontaneous" protests conducted
by Israel's enemies around the world. Israel was a "fake and counterfeit
nation" a "cancerous tumor" that could not be negotiated with - though some
Palestinian leaders make the mistake of doing so. The only way for Muslims and
Palestinians to achieve victory over the "Zionist usurper" is "resistance."
Claiming that "the question of Palestine is the most urgent problem of the
Islamic world," Khamenei denounced the Obama administration for its
"unconditional commitment to Israel's security." It's a policy that amounts "to
the same crooked ways of the Bush administration and nothing else."
Khamenei proposed that a referendum be held of "all those who have a legitimate
stake in the territory of Palestine, including Muslims, Christians and Jews"
wherever they may be. He presumed, however, that just as the West did not honor
the genuinely free election of Hamas among Palestinians, so too, it would not
allow the future of Palestine to be determined by a worldwide plebiscite of
Muslims, Christians and Jews.
Typical Western hypocrisy, Khamenei concluded.
THE IDEA that Khamenei will modify so perverted, so deep-seated, a worldview as
a result of Obama administration suasion, or European economic incentives and
political inducements, is risible.
For Khamenei, Israel is a cancer alright, but America, Britain and Western
values generally are the carcinogens; excising Israel alone will not bring the
supreme leader the global caliphate he seeks.
Thus the more propitiously President Barack Obama "engages" with Teheran, the
quicker Khamenei's creed will come to the fore, and the more transparent it
should be that candidate Obama's pledge: "I will do everything in my power to
prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon" deserves to be honored.
WE MAY never know what possessed a Palestinian Arab in Jerusalem yesterday to
use a construction vehicle as a weapon. We can surmise, however, that like
others before him he was socialized within a religio-political milieu which
encourages belligerence, victimization and martyrdom - precisely the ideals
inculcated into the minds of Khamenei's own Revolutionary Guards.
For all its homicidal tendencies, there is no evidence that, at its apex,
Iran's regime is suicidal. Yet its most loyal cadre has been whipped-up by a
messianic dogma that blends Persian imperialism with Shi'ite embitterment -
belligerence, victimization and martyrdom. One shudders to think that if Iran's
nuclear ambitions aren't foiled, some overly zealous revolutionary guard might
have more than a tractor at his disposal. The Soviet-era template of
containment and deterrence simply won't apply.
This week, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal urged the
Arabs to come together in the face of the "Iranian challenge." Palestinian
leader Mahmoud Abbas told Iran to stop interfering in Palestinian affairs.
While the Arabs fret about the instability wrought by Teheran in Gaza, Iraq,
Lebanon and Afghanistan they, like Europeans and Africans, are hedging their
So the longer Obama takes to crystallize his policy, the harder it will be to
stop the Iranian bomb.
No wonder Khamenei feels optimistic.