David K. Rees

It is time to take a new perspective on the protests in Iran

Iranian demonstrators take to the streets of the capital Tehran during a protest for Mahsa Amini, days after she died in police custody, on September 21, 2022. (AFP).

The people, especially the women of Iran who are standing up to the ayatollahs and their morality police, have deservedly won our admiration for their courage in standing up to the face of tyranny. The Ayatollahs and their police have responded to the protesters with horrible vengeance, an action which has been condemned by the entire civilized world. Still, before we get carried away in our admiration, we should consider some sobering facts.

What the media do NOT report. The media objectively report the number of protesters killed in the revolt as being between 75 and 100. The media does NOT report that according to the Tehran Times, between March 21, 2021, and March 16, 2022, 3,904 people were killed in Iran in traffic accidents. In other words, it is more dangerous to drive in Iran than it is to protest.

The media objectively report that there is widespread support among the Iranian people for the protests. One Israeli newspaper, without any factual support, even claimed that a “majority” of Iranians support the protesters. What the media do NOT report is how many people are actually protesting. The largest number I have seen estimated is “thousands”. Yet, Iran is a huge country with a population in excess of 84,000,000 people. Even if there are 100,000 protesters (which I doubt) that would still be 1/840th of the population of Iran.

While we do not know how widespread the support for the protesters within Iran is, we do know that the focus of the protests is the morality police enforcing the Iranian law which requires women to wear hijab properly. I live in Israel, a country where Muslim women have the absolute right to chose whether or not to wear hijab. While many Muslim women do not, the great majority do. I see them daily. I suspect that the overwhelming number of Iranian women do not support the protesters on this issue at all.

It has been widely reported that Iran has a huge number of educated people. While that is true, it is educated people who have brought Iran so close to having nuclear weapons. Iran is justly proud of having been a great nation, at least since Cyrus the Great, who lived in the sixth century BCE. The Ayatollahs may be horrible, but they have a long,  proud tradition and are not stupid.

There is no reason to believe that if the revolt is successful, Iran’s policy towards either the United States or Israel will change. Iranians have viewed the United States as “The Great Satan” for over 40 years and with good reason. In 1952, Iran democratically elected a Prime Minister who Washington thought was too far to the left. The CIA led a revolt and he was replaced by the Shah of Iran, one of the most brutal dictators in the world, whose secret police, SAVAK (an organization established by the CIA), arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and murdered thousands of people. The Shah remained in power until the people, led by the Ayatollahs, overthrew him in 1979. In October, 1979, Jimmy Carter, the President of the United States, gave the Shah permission to come to the United States for medical treatment. The Iranian people were outraged and in November, 1979 took over the American Embassy with 52 Americans still inside. That occupation continued for the rest of Carter’s term of office, which ended in January, 1981.

Just as many Iranians hate the United States, they hate Israel as well. If the protesters take control in Iran this year, there is no reason to think that they would not hate Israel, just like almost every other Muslim country in the world. There is no reason to think they would abandon their pursuit of nuclear weapons or the most modern missiles and centrifuges. There is no reason to think that they would not support Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, and Hamas, all of whom want to replace Israel with a Muslim country and threaten to wipe Israel off the face of the earth daily. In short, a successful Iranian revolt would not bring Israel any closer to peace; Israel would continue to have to be ready for a war with Iran very soon.

Emotionally, like everyone else, I hope that the protesters prevail; it would be wonderfully romantic. Yet when I try to evaluate the situation objectively, I doubt that they will.  As happens too often in the world, evil, this time in the form of the Ayatollahs, is too strong. Even if the protesters seem like the good guys now, I wonder how the people of Israel and the United States will feel about them, if there is a war between Iran and Israel.

About the Author
Before making Aliyah from the United States, I spent over three decades as a lawyer in the United States. My practice involved handling many civil rights cases, including women's- rights cases, in State and Federal courts. I handled numerous constitutional cases for the ACLU and argued one civil rights case in the United States Supreme Court. I chaired the Colorado Supreme Court's Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure and served on the Colorado Supreme Court's Civil Rules and Rules of Evidence Committees. Since much of my practice involved the public interest, I became interested in environmental law and worked closely with environmental organizations, including the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). I was on the Rocky Mountain Board of EDF. I received an award from the Nebraska Sierra Club as a result of winning a huge environmental case that was referred to me by EDF. I also developed significant knowledge of hazardous and radioactive waste disposal. I was involved in a number of law suits concerning waste disposal, including a highly-political one in the United States Supreme Court which involved the disposal of nuclear waste. As I child I was told by my mother, a German, Jewish refugee who fled Nazi Germany, that Israel was a place for her and her child. When I first visited Israel many years later, I understood what she meant. My feeling of belonging in Israel caused me to make Aliyah and Israel my home. Though I am retired now, I have continued my interest in activism and the world in which I find myself.
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