The Problem in Iran is Not Nuclear Weapons. It’s the Government.

President Obama is not just endangering Israel’s security. His reconciliatory behavior towards Iran compromises first and foremost the human rights of the Iranian people, and hundreds of millions of other citizens throughout the Middle East who are suffering under the oppression of fanatical Islamic regimes.

It was especially difficult for me to hear President Obama state from behind the UN podium last week that he believes once the Iranian nuclear program crisis is solved, it will be a huge step forward on a long road toward new relations; relations built of “common interests and mutual respect”.

Common interests and mutual respect? Really? One could understand from Obama’s statements that as soon as we get rid of the Iranian nuclear threat (he apparently forgot who we are dealing with), we can return to business as usual and grant Iran full rights as an upstanding member of the international community. What about the policy of ethnic cleansing of Iranian minorities, particularly the Bahai community? What about the systematic use of torture, including brutal sexual violence toward men and women in governmental custody? What about the dizzying rate of executions of Iranian citizens, including children, and the suppression and prevention of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion? Will these suddenly disappear together with the Iranian nuclear threat?

I am reminded of the warning given to us by the prophet Isaiah, which echoes throughout the ages, and is so relevant to current events. It’s as if he was a journalist covering this week’s UN General Assembly meeting: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).

The True Nature of the Empire of Evil

 Obama did mention in his speech the violent oppression being carried out by the Syrian government in a call to prevent the further use of chemical weapons. However, in a similar manner to his remarks regarding Iran, he avoided mentioning the need to prevent the indiscriminate killing of hundreds of thousands of Assad’s own citizens by conventional weapons. The message understood between the lines is: “as long as you do not use chemical weapons, you are welcome to continue slaughtering the Syrian people by any other means”.

The primary problem is not the type of weapons, but rather the type of government possessing the weapons. The simplest way to ascertain the suitability of a government is to look at the way it treats citizens living under its administration. There is not the slightest common ground between democratic regimes, which place the welfare and quality of life of their citizens at the top of their agendas, and Islamic regimes, which are motivated by lust for power, fed by radical religious ideologies, and indifferently trample human rights.

Proceeding Rohani’s rise to the presidency of Iran, it was the nation with the highest per capita number of executions in the world. Since his election, the rate of executions has accelerated. Rohani may be able to stand behind the UN podium and present a humanistic speech, but his actions speak louder than his words. According to conservative estimates, approximately one hundred Iranians were executed in just his first month in office. Today we need a strong leader in the West, who will stand up and say, “If Rohani wants normalization of relations with Iran, then let him begin with some housecleaning.

This week, the international community and the US President, as its spokesman, missed a historic opportunity to call evil evil, darkness darkness and bitterness bitterness. Had he done so, Barak Obama could have brought courage and hope to all of those in our region, who are crying out for freedom, human rights and the overturning of oppressive dictatorships.

In an interview with The Weekly Standard, which was published in the month of June, 2004, Natan Sharansky was asked about the significance of President Ronald Reagan’s speech, during which he referred to the Soviet regime an “evil empire”; a speech delivered while Sharansky was imprisoned in the gulag as a prisoner of Zion. “I have to laugh… There was a long list of all the Western leaders who had lined up to condemn the evil Reagan for daring to call the great Soviet Union an evil empire right next to the front-page story about this dangerous, terrible man, who wanted to take the world back to the dark days of the Cold War. This was the moment. It was the brightest, most glorious day… President Reagan had from that moment made it impossible for anyone in the West to continue closing their eyes to the real nature of the Soviet Union”.

For the thousands and thousands of political prisoners suffering at this very moment in Iranian and Syrian prisons, this week, which could have been “bright” and “glorious”, became disappointing and sad. Barack Obama turned out the light at the end of the tunnel for them.

About the Author
Calev Michael Myers is the Deputy President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ) and the President and Executive Chairman of ARISE - Alliance to Reinforce Israel's Security and Economy (ARISE). He is also a Senior Partner at Yehuda Raveh & Co. Law Offices (YR&Co.). The opinions expressed in Calev's blogs may not necessarily reflect the opinions of the IAJLJ, ARISE or YR&Co.