Iran/Obama: Will the real Haman please stand up?

Purim is upon us.

A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he does not know the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai.”

Who is the friend? Who is the enemy?

More than 500 years ago, Machiavelli observed and made notes on human behaviour and compiled them into one of the most famous and controversial books, The Prince. He’s been trying to tell us through the generations that one must respond to facts on the ground, actual human behaviour in real time, and not how we wish or imagine people behave.

Paul Strathern author of The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior wrote:

“Machiavelli was one of the first to grapple with the inherent hypocrisy that springs from the pluralism that lies at the heart of the Western worldview.” It’s a dichotomy between the teachings of the Judeo-Christian ethic that calls on us to “be governed by such qualities as compassion, meekness, humility, love of one’s neighbour” when “in the everyday secular world that we actually inhabit… In order to succeed here we need ambition, greed, self-assertion and so forth.”

Israel, a democracy in the midst of a swamp of autocracies, theocracies  and despotic regimes is again on the table:  negotiations with the Palestinians and dealing with an existential threat from Iran and company.

President Obama recently told Jeffrey Goldberg

“What I’ll say is that if you look at Iranian behavior, they are strategic, and they’re not impulsive. They have a worldview, and they see their interests, and they respond to costs and benefits. And that isn’t to say that they aren’t a theocracy that embraces all kinds of ideas that I find abhorrent, but they’re not North Korea. They are a large, powerful country that sees itself as an important player on the world stage, and I do not think has a suicide wish, and can respond to incentives.”


The West under the leadership of Obama is negotiating “ in good faith” with Iran, a country that has hanged human rights activists, and gays and is calling for peace while pushing its agenda throughout the Middle East; an agenda that has been declared loud and clear.

In 2001 Iranian leader Hashemi Rafsanjani “speculated that in a nuclear exchange with Israel his country might lose 15-million people which would amount to a small sacrifice from the one billion Muslims worldwide in exchange for the death of five millions Israeli Jews.”

Hassan Nassrallah, secretary-general of Hezbollah recalled a statement by the founder of the Islamic Republic: “Imam [Ruhollah] Khomeini provided a clear and precise definition for Israel when he called this regime [Israel] a cancerous tumor. … And the only way to cure it is not to give it time, not give in to it and eradicate its roots.”

Nassrallah also said:

“Some think that the fall and destruction of Israel is only good for Palestinians… However, [such an event] will be good for all the countries of the region, and one cannot separate this threat [Israel] from Jordon, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. For this reason the annihilation of Israel is in the national interest of Jordon, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.”
In August 2012 Ahmadinejad said the “annihilation of the Zionist regime… (is the) key for solving the world problems,” and he slammed U.S. leaders for “kissing the feet of the Zionists.”

Khamenei, Iran’s appointed supreme leader and head of state in charge of all of Iran’s foreign policy, including the nuclear agreement said “Israeli officials cannot be called humans. They are like animals, some of them,” and then criticized the United States who “continue to commit crimes” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

Sunnis and Shiites are coming together. Saudi cleric Salman al-Awda (Sunni) wrote on his website “this is not the time to express our differences with the Shiites because we are all confronted by our greater enemy, the criminal Jews and Zionists.”

Sheikh Nasrallah, a Shiite, also promotes an alliance with Hamas, a Sunni and Muslim Brotherhood organization. Two groups that still attack each other are coming together to further their way of life-which does not fit with the idea of freedom in the West.

The esteemed leaders in the West are taking Iran at its word that they want peace even though the Iranian leaders come from a line of those who call for the end of the West.

Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id Ramadan al-Buti, wrote Jurisprudence of the Prophetic Biography, regarded as one of the best Prophetic biographies written in the 20th century:

“The theory that our religion is a peaceful and loving religion is a wrong theory. The Holy war as it is known in Islamic jurisprudence is basically an offensive war, and it is the duty of all Muslims of every age… to fight all people until they say ‘No God but Allah'”

The late Egyptian scholar, Sayyid Qutb, member of the Muslim Brotherhood, wrote 24 books. Translations exist in every Arabic language, including Farsi, the language spoken in Iran. Ayatullah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, wrote the translations.

Qutb’s work influenced Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian partner in terror, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In Milestones, Revised Edition, Qutb wrote western democracy is infertile of life-giving ideas. “The value of civilizations lay in what universal truths and worldviews they have attained.” He said that the modern obsession with science and invention was a moral regression to the primitive condition of the first toolmakers.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad regularly cite his works.

The leaders of Iran are followers of Qutb.

And Obama continues to negotiate in good faith with the Iranians. “There’s never been a negotiation in which at some point there isn’t some pause, some mechanism to indicate possible good faith.” If they renege on their promise he said that they know there will be consequences. “I know they take it seriously.” He remains committed to keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and  is not worried about  reports that Iran’s economy is improving..

Obama hasn’t responded to Iran’s shipment of arms into Gaza or Iran’s most recent threat to destroy Israel. “Today, we can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist regime’s control…”

It hasn’t stopped the negotiations or lifting the sanctions. Iran must be shaking in her boots, waiting for the repercussions.

Words without actions are like whispers in the wind.

I think Obama is suffering from “Tolerism,”  a term defined by Howard Rotberg in his book Tolerism The Ideology Revealed; “Tolerism [is] that excessive leniency towards the views of our enemies,” which promotes “standards of cultural relativism.”

I read in Rotberg’s book that September 10, 2006, Mohammed Khatami, former President of Iran gave a lecture at Harvard University, titled “Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence,” where he called the West “the greatest victim of over-reliance on wisdom.”

What would Machiavelli say about Obama sitting down in “good faith” with the leadership of Iran?

“It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot have both.”

Whom should we fear: the leaders of Iran or Obama?

Will the real Haman please stand up?

About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "
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