The first article which began my writing “career” was written in April 2015 and it was entitled “Iran; Tekiyah-The Big Lie.” It was inspired by a presentation to the Jerusalem Press Club by Ambassador Dore Gold which dealt with the religious Muslim culture of pretense in order to achieve one’s goals against the “Infidel.” The speech pre-dated, and was a warning in regard to the risks of, the eventual “Iran Deal” proposed and concluded by then U.S. President Barak Obama.
Today’s Press Club symposium was of a very different nature. Entitled “The gap between the Iranian regime and Iranian society” I went prepared to put a more “human face” on the “Evil Empire.” How easily we all become lured by clichés and over-simplifications.
The three-person panel, all experts in the day to day life of the average Iranian had much to share. Their most important core points on which they all agreed, follow:
- Two-thirds of the 80 million Iranian population are now in their forties or younger. They are disillusioned from the repeatedly broken promises of all their previous leaders.
- Today’s Iranian population is not religious. The Mosques are empty. Individuals are not embarrassed to convert to Christianity, to recognize their Jewish heritage, to be atheist, or to look elsewhere for spiritual fulfillment.
- Iran’s citizenry is not interested in war. Their only concerns are a better economy, a better life for their families and national security.
- There is a love-hate relationship between the Iranian public and its leaders. The public feels the last election was fraudulent. They also feel they have no recourse.
- The Iranian public is proud to be Iranian. They reflect a nationalist sense of honor as regards the best of Iran’s history and accomplishments. Nationalism in Iran is a source of individual self-esteem.
The above points are essential in understanding the dichotomy which is the 21st century Iran. While average Iranians do not want the government to impose its religious identity upon the public, they are still prepared to put up with this inconvenience as long as their leaders can show them that their behavior vis a vis their Arab neighbors, is necessary for Iran’s survival. Iranians consider being called “Arabs” an insult to their unique culture and history. Whilst citizens do not want vast national financial resources squandered as they are currently, for example- in Lebanon with Hezbollah, or in Syria in fighting ISIS – they also fear that ISIS might one day end up within their own borders. Hence their public will bow to the judgement that such financial expenditures may be justified in order to maintain secure borders and national identity.
The pride in their Iranian Nationalism super-cedes their will “fight to the death” against the Mullahs and Supreme Leader. This leaves the ultra-religious leadership with almost total power on all matters International. Their own hidden agendas can be pursued as long as they can present a cogent argument to the public as to why there are long-term benefits to them in the process.
The average Iranian today is schizophrenic when it comes to their feelings about the United States. While constantly being told that it is their enemy, they adulate everything American- from Nike shoes to American t-shirts espousing messages and images they may not even comprehend. Most Iranians speak English as a second language and dream of having the freedoms of the West.
At the moment, most of the Iranian public is very angry at President Trump. It has nothing to do with his desire to negate the “Iran Deal.” After his initial Middle East speeches which eloquently spoke directly to (and of ) the people of Iran in glowing terms, he then made the massive faux-pas calling Iran a “nation of terrorists .“ The man on the street was inflamed by this accusation. Then Trump infuriated its public by confusing the “Persian Gulf” with the “Arabian Gulf.” One might not think it was a serious error… but it was to the Iranian public. It was another example how sloppy preparation as to the sensitivities of a nation can bring disastrous reactions from the very individuals which one may want to inspire to rebellion. Clearly President Trump does not understand that the Iranian people could be his ally…and that they and their leaders are not one in the same.
At least 10 years ago I had the opportunity to meet an important leader of the underground movement in Iran. He and his associates ran pirate radio stations and had set a date for a massive overthrow of the Iranian government. The date came and went, and my contact has not been heard of (by my contacts in Israel) again. Overthrowing an Iranian government is not a simple task.
While the current Iranian government rules with an iron fist, it sometimes places it in a velvet glove. It uses “rappers” to try to connect with the voting public and while their police may demand an Iranian girl wash off her massive amount of western cosmetics from her face — it is still well aware of the demographics of a younger voting public. It cannot totally ignore their priorities. The smallest of concessions apparently help the rulers to remain in power. It well may be, as claimed by many, that the previous election was stolen from that public through an illegal vote count. It is unlikely that can be repeated for perpetuity.
In spite of horrific proclamations against the State of Israel, Iran’s truly bitter enemy is in fact — Saudi Arabia. This makes the new alliance between the Saudis, the United States and Israel an even more interesting phenomenon to witness. As I have said in many articles before, the new Middle East implosions have resulted in very strange bed-fellows.
My goal in attending this press conference was to get my finger on the pulse of Iran. The problem is that there are two “Irans” living side by side in a form of peaceful co-existence. The Nation State is the largest sponsor of terrorism around the world. The public of Iran has nothing to say about this horrific situation. It is presented to them in totally different terms. The State tells them that these massive funds diverted elsewhere to overthrow enemy governments are simply a form of self-defense. If Iranians love their country, as they apparently do, they are told that they “need” to understand that their government is protecting them from infiltration…both culturally and physically. The cultural infiltration has already taken place as Iran adulates the behavior of freedom loving nations. The problem is that it is not one, Those who represent the population’s desire for change, have been sidetracked through very clever manipulations.
In essence a totalitarian regime controls all major decisions in Iran. Giving the people small concessions satisfies their basic needs and keeps them in line. It looks as though the “status quo” will exist for many years to come. Only an existential breach in their nation’s security could topple the current regime as things stand at present.
It is Ironic that such a tremendous “Nationalist” pride exists in Iran, in spite of the fact that the average citizen has no power to change the society and lives under a despotic government. By contrast- in Democracies such as the United States, in Europe and even in Israel- all nations where the Democratic rule of the majority changes the nation’s future…. “Nationalism” has become a “dirty “word.
This is yet again another example of a world in which very little makes sense. One and one used to “equal two.” It seems today that it makes “eleven.” The one and the one no longer come together to a logical conclusion, but stand side by side in direct contradiction!