The news is full of stories proclaiming that new Iranian President Hassan Rowhani is a real moderate and that with him replacing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad there is opportunity for renewed relations and a solution to the Iranian nuclear program difficulties. Oh if only that were so. Even a cursory review of the pre-election schemes and actions taken to prepare the ballot which was finally placed before the people will disavow any rational person from such thoughts. Initially there were literally hundreds of candidates who wished their names to be on the ballot so, as in any nation, there was a primary of sorts. These names are listed and sent to the Assembly of Experts which is made up of leading Imams and Ayatollahs where the list is selectively narrowed to a list of names these Clerics approve. There are those who believe that in all honesty the Assembly of Experts never even bothers to view the list and simply puts together a list of the names of whoever they think should hold the office of President. The possibility of a true liberal who believes in separation between the religious hierarchy and those who run the political functions of the State have absolutely no chance making past this review. The list formulated in the Assembly of Experts is passed along to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who then prepares the final list of five to eight candidates who make up the actual ballot. So, in the end only those whom the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei feels would best support his views and desires before the people and the world are allowed to even be on the ballot thus removing any possibility of a true moderate becoming President of Iran.
But what is known about now Iranian President Hassan Rowhani. We know he is sixty-four years old and his first statement announced a “new opportunity” for the West to treat the Islamic Republic with respect and to recognize its rights. Treat the Islamic Republic with respect and to recognize its rights was also a favorite grouping of words used by the preceding Iranian President and he used them to mean for the world to prostrate themselves before their betters and permit Iran to do whatever they pleased and be happy about it. I suspect it still means the same thing. We know that Rowhani was the country’s former nuclear negotiator under the former President Mohammad Khatami and also served as top security official under former moderate President, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. There were no cracks in the Iranian insistence to the right to develop nuclear projects as they desired during his time in either position. To his credit, Rowhani recently accused his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of needlessly incurring crippling economic sanctions though such was very likely simple campaign rhetoric. In his first speech as Iran’s new President, Hassan Rowhani showed his true colors when he launched into a diatribe almost immediately against Israel, blaming the Jewish state for Iran’s economic problems. He defiantly pointed out, “The Iranian nation has done nothing to deserve these sanctions. Our activities are in line with international norms. If the sanctions help anyone, it is Israel. They are directed only at us. The Western nations do not have sanctions against anyone else.” He concluded his tirade claiming it was all part of the Israeli plan to “ruin” Iran.
Across the world it appears that all the players are lining up salivating at the chance to prostrate themselves before the new great hope in Iran. The United States said it was prepared to engage Iran directly. The White House said such engagement would seek a, according to reports, “diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.” Along similar lines, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was committed to working with Rowhani towards finding a “swift diplomatic solution” over concerns about the Iranian controversial nuclear program. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated he hoped Iran will now play a “constructive role” in regional and international affairs. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France is eager and “ready to work” with Rowhani, on issues including the country’s nuclear program and its involvement in the Syrian conflict. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle welcomed the election of Rowhani as a vote which may provide for “a constructive foreign policy.” He added, “We hope that the country’s new administration collaborates in this sense in order to reach solutions on international and regional questions.” The British statement urged Rowhani to set “a different course” for the future of the Iranian Islamic Republic. Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said Italy hoped that Iran and Italy would find a “relationship of renewed comprehension and constructive dialogue.” And lastly, the Syrian National Coalition representing the rebels in the Syrian Civil War hoped that Rowhani will review Iranian support for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. This is almost reminiscent of the press and world’s stated praises for newly elected United States President Barack Obama upon his first winning the election in November of 2008. Let’s hope that everybody takes the eventual letdown when this person fails to live up to the hype better than they did when President Obama proved to be merely a fallible human-being. On a more sane reaction, Israel issued a blunt reaction to Iran’s new president Saturday saying, “Iran’s nuclear program has so far been determined by Khamenei, and not by Iran’s president. After the election, Iran will continue to be judged by its acts, in the nuclear field as well as that of terrorism.” During a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, Netanyahu was quoted yesterday saying, “Iran should not be allowed to gain time by holding drawn out talks” with the nations of the international community thus gaining precious time to complete their nuclear intentions. “Today, it is indispensable to keep the pressure. We should not surrender to illusions.” Israel was simply pointing out through the cacophonic din that, in reality, nothing has changed once again. There really is no great new hope on the Iranian horizons or especially in the office of the President.
Beyond the Cusp
The United Nations is once again displaying remarkable consistency. The Syrian border with Israel heated up even further today and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers began running. Actually the governments who sent their troops to be peacekeepers ordered them to start running; running straight home. The UNDOF troops had been monitoring a basically silent border since 1974 until the recent events actually might have required them to perform peacekeeping. This should not come as a surprise as this is basically what United Nations peacekeepers are renowned for doing in the face of violence. In their defense the initial decision by the Austrian government to withdraw their 380 peacekeepers came after clashes in which two UN peacekeepers were slightly injured. The Austrian government official statement stated, “The Austrian army’s participation in the UNDOF mission can no longer be maintained for military reasons.” Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and his deputy Michael Spindelegger said in a joint statement. “Freedom of movement in the area de facto no longer exists. The uncontrolled and immediate danger to Austrian soldiers has risen to an unacceptable level” This was the final death knell for the UNDOF mission as it followed the reduction of the troop numbers to 900 after the March withdrawal by Croatia which followed following similar moves by Canada and Japan.
This situation is not honestly much of a surprise as United Nations peacekeepers that have been stationed on Israeli borders have a history of either ineffectiveness or departing at the earliest signs of violence or immediately after the leader of the Arab nation bordering Israel requests they get out of the way of their attacking militaries. This was the case in 1967 when Egyptian and Syrian troops massed on Israel’s borders. Avoiding trouble and turning a blind eye to Hezballah activities has been the apparent mission directive of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). In all honesty United Nations efforts as peacekeepers have left much to be desired throughout their history but only when deployed. The other side of this unseemly coin is that in many instances where United Nations peacekeepers would have actually been useful and have saved innocent lives they have been reticent in sending them in in a timely manner. The genocides in Rwanda and Darfur are prime examples of too little too late if at all. The only thing less effective of this world depending on the United Nations to be a place where peace is kept by the cooperation of the member nations through reason and negotiations as the means for solving problems would be a world where even the ineffectual United Nations did not exist thus removing any recourse other than the historic means, open warfare at even the slightest of provocations. Unfortunately, the one accomplishment of the United Nations that has prevented far more world carnage is about to become violate, the prevention of the general proliferation of nuclear weaponry. Once that principal accomplishment is dashed and nuclear weapons become generally available to any country or other entity with sufficient funds and desire, then when the world enters another period of heightened tensions, any resultant conflict would contain a level of threat for an unacceptable conflagration of unimaginable destruction. I pray that such a future is avoidable but judging from human history where no weapon no matter how horrible has not only been used to end one war but more often than not became the principle weapon used in the next war. Some claim this is due to progress while others contend such progress will eventually result in the end of the human race and potentially an almost immeasurable percentage of life on the planet. May such a consequence be avoided though the current state of the world is not exactly promising when the organization responsible for mitigating such threats, the United Nations, refuses to have its peacekeeping forces remain in place running from even the slightest raised level of violence.
Beyond the Cusp
When the subject of anti-Semitism is discussed many areas in the world are more likely to be included before anybody would even think of including the United States as a place of major concern. The most often chosen discussed areas where there is growing anti-Semitism are the Muslim Middle East and North Africa and Europe. The Muslim anti-Semitism is often claimed to be driven mostly over Israel and the Palestinian statehood issue. This is not the entire truth and more than likely being chosen as the reason behind anti-Semitism is done so as not to need to address the historic anti-Semitism which has risen periodically throughout Muslim lands since the inception of Islam in Mecca and especially Medina. Another misrepresentation has been the claim that after the Holocaust and the end of World War II that anti-Semitism had disappeared from Europe and the West. The truth is that anti-Semitism had simply retreated beneath the societal radar and had become unacceptable which only served to put it in apparent remission but did not cure these peoples of the disease called anti-Semitism. The proof of this having been the case is the rapid growth of the national socialist political parties which have adopted much of the original Nazi racial puritan ethic which has a definitive anti-Semitic strain driving the movement. This has been most evident in those countries which are experiencing economic difficulties or other stressful pressures on their social fabric. Still, much of the public try and dismiss these political groups as passing blips on the political spectrum and simply if ignored they will pass away before they cause any real harm. If my memory serves me, that was exactly the thoughts of polite European society about the rise of the national socialists in Germany and elsewhere prior to their rise to power in Nazi Germany, and the rest is, as they say, history.
North America and the United States in particular are considered to be paragons of acceptance where anti-Semitism is something which has been relegated to a miniscule minority whose numbers are so minute as not to be any actual concern. If this were only true. What masks much of the anti-Semitism is that it exists in the form of either anti-Israel or anti-Zionist political movements. The claim that virulent anti-Israel and anti-Zionist adherents are protesting only Israel and do not necessarily have any hatred towards Jews is more often a false premise than truth. This article is not intended to argue this point but rather to address the rise of anti-Semitism within North America and particularly within the United States. Where in the general society there is not much evident anti-Semitism in any of its incarnations; but in the arenas from which our future leadership is being molded and educated, the elite colleges and universities, the growth of anti-Semitism is extremely troubling. The initial foot in the door has been the anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and pro-Palestinian movements and in particular the BDS Movement which demands Universities and whomever else they can persuade to fight Israel through Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions. The one item which these groups will stress and go to great lengths to emphasize are that under no circumstance are they or do they condone in any form anti-Semitism. To quote Macbeth, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
The truth is in their actions and we need to judge these people by their actions and not simply listen to their words. On many campuses there exist different main events behind those utilizing the political difficulties concerning Israel in order to promote their masked anti-Semitism. These are BDS Protests and Palestinian Solidarity Weeks or Months. These events are often accompanied by general measures taken presumably to demonstrate the “sins” of the State of Israel. One such is to present eviction notices to certain students that they are to leave their dorm room within the next few hours as they are scheduled to be destroyed. This is done implying that Israel simply randomly destroys Palestinian homes for absolutely no reason other than just because they are Palestinian owned homes. The students whose doors receive the fake eviction notices are known Jewish students, Hillel members, and those known to support Israel. Another event is to place checkpoints around the campus where any students wearing Star of David jewelry, Yarmulkes, or other ways are known to be Jews are stopped and treated roughly and demeaned simply because they are Jews and presumed to support Israel. The truth is they seldom give such treatment to Christian or other supporters of Israel. Then there are the Walls of Shame where they place a wall that supposedly represents the anti-terror fence which in urban areas or areas where snipers have targeted Israeli homes and vehicles they erect actual walls but the vast majority of the barrier uses fencing. Often this wall is covered with the names of Palestinians who have been arrested by Israel on terrorist charges, also the names of terrorists Israel has killed in the commission of acts of terror and even the names of those who died in suicide bombings for which they blame Israel. As these demonstrations have grown in size and numbers there has come with them a general atmosphere on numerous campuses where all things Israel are condemned and anybody who supports Israel is scorned and many professors are known to grade these students harshly with some even being failed. Some campuses the atmosphere has grown so toxic that Jewish students have taken to hiding the fact that they are Jewish and those who have not taken such precautions are physically attacked. The situation has reached such epidemic proportions that there are currently lawsuits filed against Universities for not providing a safe and secure educational environment and not protecting students from religious persecutions in Federal Courts under civil rights laws.
But the problems of today will pale in comparison to what is likely to be coming in the near future. Directly resulting from the poisoned educational environment which casts Israel directly and Jews by inference as evil and undesirable entities and such premises tainting administrations especially in the social sciences will produce a core of future leaders tainted to varying extents as a result. The percentage does not need to be as significant as many would like to believe to do immense damage. The reality is that should the current trends continue to grow at the same rate as they have been growing in recent history, the problem will soon become a major influencing factor in our advanced educational systems. Studying such occurrences throughout history produces a very troubling picture where what begins as a small movement within the elite educational society will rapidly gain adherents and reach a societal movement often as quickly as a decade and more readily within three decades. The anti-Israel and anti-Zionist movement infecting the elite educational societies in the United States and in Canada are already closing in on their first decade and have grown significantly to the point that even some traditionally Jewish colleges and universities have supported BDS protests and Palestinian solidarity protests. One of the hotbeds of these movements has been the California College System, one of the largest university and college systems in the United States. The one factor which guarantees that these events and support structures driving them will remain well funded and will have all the resources they require is the simple fact that Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and other Muslim organizations will continue to supply monetary support. This support has been most evident when one researches the Middle East Departments of almost every American major university where Arabists hold most of the positions of power and influence. Where much of this problem has remained largely out of sight and is not covered in any depth in the mainstream media, the ramifications and ramifications of this situation will produce its foul and rotten fruit which will unfortunately become evident and recognized likely far too late to avoid the worst results even I might predict. This coming from one who is often dismissed as a pessimist but too often prove out in time to have been a realist.
Beyond the Cusp