As Jews around the world recently celebrated the holiday of Purim, we read the scroll of Esther and were reminded of the ancient Persian decree to eradicate the Jewish people. Nearly 2480 years ago, under Xerxes’s rule, an evil order was sent to the 127 provinces of the Persian empire to murder the Jewish people in their midst.
Not much has changed since then. Except that with few Jews left in Iran, the presumptive modern day Persia, a new despot has turned his sights to destroy the Jewish people in its sovereign state of Israel. Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei the current Supreme Leader of Iran, in office since 1989, has repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel.
In September 2015, Khamenei said “by Allah’s favor and grace, nothing called the ‘Zionist regime’ will exist by 25 years from now.”
Last month, Russian leadership went so far as to admonish Tehran for calls by Iranian leaders to destroy Israel, marking rare criticism of Russia’s longtime ally.
“We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was reported as saying.
This coming April, as Israel plans to celebrate its 70th anniversary, Iran will host its first-ever International Hourglass Festival, dedicated exclusively to counting down the “imminent collapse of the Zionist regime.”
Further, the Union for Islamic Associations of Students, an Iranian-based student organization was formed to organize a series of programs entitled “a world without Zionism” both in Iran and abroad.
When a radical gang of outcasts and pariahs assemble and call for continued racism and injustice, it is worth taking note.
But when a sovereign state under the direction of its President threatens the destruction of another state that requires worldwide attention and action.
Instead of leading a worldwide coalition to further ostracize Iran and moderate its calls for Israel’s destruction, President Obama along with six other world powers signed a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran in 2015 to delay Iran’s nuclear program.
The JCPOA or “deal” proposed an end to crippling economic sanctions on Iran in return for limitations to Iran’s enrichment of uranium and other elements of their nuclear energy program, which many feared Iran would use to create a nuclear weapon.
Similar to Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler, Obama and Kerry’s deal at the time was widely regarded as the signature foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency. But it was and remains nothing short of appeasement. And it meekly empowers a totalitarian regime that is the single largest state sponsor of global terrorism.
The United States and the EU have since lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. Over 160 billion dollars of frozen assets has flowed to Iran and its proxies. The resumption of trade and the path of normalization of Iran among the nations has emboldened Iran. Beyond funding global terror, Iran today is the prime backer of its proxy Hezbollah on the northern border with Israel and of Hamas on Israel’s southern border.
In this context, the establishment of an Iranian presence in war-torn Syria on Israel’s north-eastern border is more than troubling. The recent Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty with an Iranian controlled drone in Israeli airspace is a change in the status quo and should be a cause of concern for every civilized nation.
When someone threatens to kill your citizens, invests in the technologies and ballistic missiles to do so, and then establishes military presence on your borders, it should be inconceivable that world leaders can dismiss this as political posturing.
In the Middle East, we tend to not hold people accountable for their words and their threats. But if Jewish history has taught us anything, it is to take despots and dictators at their word.
When outrageous behavior is met with silence or with mild admonishments, it sends a message of at best indifference, and at worst tacit acceptance.
Russia’s recent criticism of Iran is noteworthy but must be backed up with clear actions to remove Iran from Syria. Leaders from across the world must send an unequivocal message of zero tolerance for any Iranian aggression. Indeed, further violations by Iran should automatically nullify the JCPOA and immediately reinstate crippling economic sanctions and invoke further actions. The time for subtlety and appeasement has passed.
When made aware of the ancient decree against her people, Queen Esther realized that salvation would not come from somewhere else. She called for a gathering of all who cared to assemble in the Persian capital and asked for their assistance to lobby and pray so that the most powerful leader at the time would help reverse this decree.
In just a few days, a modern day gathering will occur in Washington, the most important Capital of our time. Leaders of the most powerful nation on earth will gather at the AIPAC Policy conference to strengthen the US-Israel strategic alliance and discuss the threats of an emboldened Iran on the Middle East.
It is time for a return to US leadership to confront the global threat Iran’s poses to regional stability. Jon Czepiel once said, “Hope is not a strategy.” It is time to reinstate international sanctions on Iran with a particular focus on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. And it is time to roll back Iran’s ballistic missiles program. And it is time for world leaders to respond and reverse Iran’s call for a world without Zionism. This is the moment.