Is it Spring again, do we have a “moderate” in Iran’s new President Rouhani and are we going to see the crumbs he threw our way as cake?
Do we in the West want so badly believe that we are on the same page (or even reading the same book) that we can buy Rouhani’s posturing at the UN last week as a “moderate?”
Rouhani, in distancing himself from his Holocaust denier predecessor Ahmadinejad, has declared that the Holocaust did indeed take place. However his description of the genocide of six million Jews leaves much to be desired.
His interpretation of the Holocaust differs sharply from what we know happened. He acknowledges “many” people were killed by the Nazis (New York Times, September 28, 2013), during WW2 including “a group of Jewish people.” Instead of disgust we are understandably desperate to believe these crumbs mean change.
As Rouhani denies the extent of the horror of the Holocaust, he also denies 800,000 Jews were forced to flee or kicked out of the Middle Eastern countries surrounding Iran. Why should the Palestinians have to pay for Europe’s sins? Why doesn’t anyone mention the hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews who had to settle in transition camps in Israel? Bring that fact into the equation and wonder why they are no longer in refugee camps.
It’s a sad old story, the Palestinians continue to be used as ammunition against the Jewish country.
I want to call my Egyptian dad and my Iraqi mom for a reality check. It was always calming to call them up after these occasions. I can only imagine now, what I would say, how they would answer.
“Can you believe our President, Obama, is being forced to behave as if …” As if Rouhani does not promote the destruction Israel. As if President Rouhani would argue with Ahmedinejad and the Ayatollahs’ belief that Jews, and the West are abominations.
In Persia before modernity, a Jew had to run for cover when it rained. Rain that touched a Jew and then fell on the ground contaminated the earth. Jews contaminate the world.
My parents were Arab Jews, they understood living under Islamic rule. My mother was proudly Iraqi, my father proudly Egyptian. They came from ancient Jewish communities. Their ties to their respective countries went back 2,500 years. They lived as registered second-class citizens once Islam ruled. They would not see Rouhani as a “moderate.”
I want to talk to them. Before the topic changed from Rouhani (in this imagined case), my dad would temper his fear with “inshallah,” God willing, it will be ok. We are used to this. It’s nothing new. I can hear my mom say, “thank God we are out of those countries.” I can’t phone them anymore but I can imagine.
For us in the West busy enjoying our freedoms it’s easy to dismiss Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust as just crazy. What we have to understand is how Rouhani’s “softer” approach is no less dangerous. To call Rouhani “moderate” is as irrational as thinking Iraq was ready for democracy and Egypt was ready for Spring.
The difference between Ahmadeinejad’s denial of the Holocaust and Rouhani’s statement that “a group of Jewish people” were killed in the Holocaust is more similar than different. To think Rouhani is capable of effecting change under the fierce eyes of Islamic fundamentalism is wishful thinking. He can try to fool the freedom loving West into thinking his crumbs constitute a cake. But when we open our eyes we see there was no “Arab Spring” and there is no cake.