The protests in Iran have not abated for several weeks now, despite reports of hundreds of casualties. The determination of the Iranian people is admirable, as is their willingness to rise above fear. I have said several times that the Iranian people are a unique nation. The area where Iran lies today was the cradle of civilization; Iranians are highly developed in the spiritual sense, but it is not the same as the religious sense.
The religious fanaticism that has taken over the country in the last fifty years or so is regrettable, but it does not take away from my respect for the people. I believe that if they direct their current awakening in the right direction, they will be a thriving and prosperous nation.
Israel used to have very good relations with Iran because there is no fundamental conflict between the two nations. The current regime is fanatical and does not allow such relations to continue, but in principle, I do not see any fundamental disagreements between us.
The reason I am pointing this out is that even among enemies, there can be respect. In fact, respect can be the first step in building closeness.
If we aspire to draw closer but see that the differences between us are currently too deep to bridge, we can begin by respecting each other’s spaces and trying not to disparage one another. If we can restrain ourselves from venting hatred, we will be able to think about more explicit acts of rapprochement.
Relationships that are built through mutual respect can eventually become even closer than relationships that did not have to go through a preliminary phase of building mutual respect.
Today, when power is the ideology, it is very difficult to imagine any reconciliation between Israel and Iran. When policy is determined solely by arms and weaponry, it is impossible to reach any agreements, let alone develop mutual respect.
If previously, the Pope, or the king, got respect from other nations or faiths, today there are no values. If I have a bomb, I have respect for no one. Power has replaced all other values.
But power is not an ideology. It brings nothing but destruction and its glory is short-lived. The fact that power is king today means that we will soon understand that having power actually means we have nothing. It will force us to resume our search for values.
Since we have exhausted such values as clerical ascendancy, social paradigms from the Right and from the Left, and wealth and power, too, are losing their allure, I believe we are becoming ready for the only value worth pursuing: love of others.
By “love of others,” I do not mean biological attraction, but love as a value, when people place the other’s needs before their own because caring lifts them to a higher level of existence.
A person who lives for others constantly creates. A person who lives for others constantly engages in giving, and derives endless strength from that alone.
The seemingly endless energy of mothers to give to their young children is nothing compared to the ability to give that a person who loves others possesses. When the sun sets on the ideology of power, love between people will begin to shine.