“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”

Imagine a regional power arming proxy militias and terrorist groups to attack an ally of the United States, such as Luxembourg.  Further consider that this same regional power seeks to develop the technology to arm itself with nuclear weaponry.  Further contemplate a former leader of this same regional power threatening to wipe Luxembourg off the map.

President Barack Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry would immediately condemn such a statement and affirm its support for its beleaguered ally Luxembourg.  Moreover, the United States would immediately demand an explanation and clarification from the regional power, perhaps suspend all diplomatic activities with this regional power and consider the imposition of sanctions against such a threatening and hostile regime.

Now, substitute the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for the State of Israel, identify the regime as the Islamic Republic of Iran, and reveal the former leader as the “moderate” ex-President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, and one can hear a pin drop in the corridors of the White House and U.S. State Department.  Instead of condemning Iranian provocations and threats against Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is accused of being an alarmist.  In the meanwhile, Israel remains marginalized in the continuing nuclear talks between Iran and the Western powers.

As reported on July 6 by the Iranian news service IRNA, Ayatollah Rafsanjani said:

[The] presence of the forged Israeli regime is temporary as eventually one day this alien existence that has been urged into the body of an ancient nation and a historical region will be wiped off the map.

This is the same Iranian regime which provides funding, equipment, weapons, training and sanctuary for Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as other terrorists seeking to undermine Israel and the West.  This is not a new development; the U.S. State Department has designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism since January 19, 1984.   For example, the 2014 country reports on terrorism issued by the U.S. State Department confirms that Iran continues to provide financial and military support to Hamas, including its activities on the West Bank.

Later this week will be Al Quds Day, where demonstrations around the world will be held to demand the return of Jerusalem to the Islamic Arabs.  In support of these protests, the Iranian news service FNA reports Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his nation will shout its hatred for the “Zionist regime.”  Rouhani expressed on state TV:

People will tell the world on the Quds Day that the Muslim nations will never forget Palestine and occupation of this territory.

Although the Iranian leadership repeatedly announces its intention to destroy Israel and its people, President Obama justifies his policy of pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran that even under the best circumstances will allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons within only a few years.  In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic in May 2015, the President explains:

…the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations.

* * *

They [the Iranian leadership] may make irrational decisions with respect to discrimination, with respect to trying to use anti-Semitic rhetoric as an organizing tool.  At the margins, where costs are low, they may pursue policies based on hatred as opposed to self-interest.

The President wants us to presume that the radical Islamic regime of Iran, the same country that routinely executes homosexuals and people accused of blasphemy against Mohammed, to be a rational actor and care more about improving its own economy rather than eradicating Israel.  In the meanwhile, we are to ignore these repeated Iranian threats against “Zionists” and to discount the Iranian support of its proxies fighting against Israel.

Two and a half generations ago the rational actor argument made by President Obama could have been said about Nazi Germany.  Had the world listened and stood firm against Nazi aggression, millions of lives might have been saved and world war averted.  Today, the Western powers must listen to what Iran is saying and doing now, and not enter into a flawed nuclear agreement with Iran. To do otherwise risks world peace, the existence of Israel and the future of the Jewish people.

About the Author
Steve Hemmat is an attorney in private practice in Seattle, Washington, where he has held several leadership roles in local Jewish institutions and is an alumnus of a Tikvah Fund workshop. Formerly with the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Justice, Steve has a deep interest in Israel and the welfare of the Jewish people. His wife, Rachely, is a native of Israel, and he has three children. He can be reached at steve.hemmat@gmail.com.
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