James Edward Johnson

my thoughts from right to left

Posts Tagged ‘iran

Mousavi calls out Ahmadinejad over Israel.

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Mir Hossein Mousavi

Jews and Israelis have long known that the Palestinian Arab issue has been used by dictators to control their populations and unite against an imaginary evil.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other autocrats in the vilayet-i-faqih regime have most heavily utilized this tactic when they have sought to court the Arab street in particular and appeal to Islamists in general.

What has changed, however, is that Mir Hossein Mousavi has begun to expose Ahmadinejad’s manipulation for what it is:

This year, the day was also marked by bitter criticism of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s administration by his opponents. Dissident leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, issued a statement saying the government was using Israel as an excuse to crush its critics.

“The orchestrated violence against the opposition shows that the occupation of Jerusalem and Israel is just an excuse. They consider their real enemy people who are fighting to free our country from oppression,” said Mr. Mousavi’s statement.

via WSJ -Day of Anti-Israel Protest Reveals Iran’s Internal Rift

Language like this is promising.  It demonstrates that Persians, even those who aspire to positions of power, are increasingly willing to see and expose the tactics that entrench a fascistic regime, provoke conflict, ultimately, endanger Persian lives on multiple levels.

Many of the ordinary Persians I know have realized this for a long time.  But, to have a major opposition leader say it demonstrates that the bulk of the people of Iran are ripe for hearing the truth.  It means that the opposition does not need to jump on the bandwagon of bashing Israel, hating Jews, and denying the Holocaust to challenge the leaders of Iran.  That is good for peace and good for the future of a liberal and democratic Iran.

cross-posted at The View From Damavand

Written by JamesEJ

Tuesday, September 7, 2010 at 1:16 am

The Atlantic covers Persian Jews in America.

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Cyrus the Great allowing Hebrew pilgrims to return to and rebuild Jerusalem

Cyrus the Great allowing Hebrew pilgrims to return to and rebuild Jerusalem

Jews can trace their history in Persia back at least 2,500 years to the time of Cyrus the Great, who restored the Jews to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile.  Sadly, in the last several decades, the Jews in Persia have been reduced to one tenth their previous size.  Most Jews fled Iran because of the rising antisemitism and persecution that accompanied the Islamic Revolution and went to Israel.  A very large number also fled to the United States.

The Atlantic’s Elizabeth Weingarten has an amazing piece discussing the recent history of Persian Jews in the United States.  Here is what she reports on Persian Jewish thought on the possibility of a military strike on Iran:

“Its very difficult for us,” explains Hooshang Nemat, the executive vice president of the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York. “You dont want to see your nation destroyed, and you dont want to see a conflict between your country of birth and the country that you sympathize with because of religion and because of shared history.” Nemat, a 67-year-old Mashadi Jew an small, ancient group from the Iranian city of Mashad, came to America in 1961 as a student at the University of Miami. He returned to Iran in 1972, and came back to the United States because of the revolution.

Like Nemat, most Iranian American Jews are against a military strike on Iran — whether it is from Israel or from the United States. But while theyd prefer a diplomatic solution, others say they would still support Israel in defending itself against a virulently anti-Semitic, and potentially dangerous, regime. Sam Kermanian, the former secretary general of the Iranian American Jewish Federation, believes that an Israeli strike “would be viewed as a justifiable act of defense,” adding that “the reaction of the Iranian American Jewish community wont be much different than the reaction of the majority of the people of Iran, who view the current regime as oppressive, and in conflict with the interests of the people of Iran.”

via Iranian Jews in America: Torn Between Homelands – International – The Atlantic.

This is just a small sample of what Weingarten shares.  The entire piece is worth reading and provides valuable insight on the views of religious minorities from Iran.

cross-posted at The View From Damavand

Written by JamesEJ

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 2:23 am

The growing regional alliance against Iran.

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Although most fear an Israeli attack on Iran, Smith lays out the case for much broader support for an attack.

Although most fear an Israeli attack on Iran, Smith lays out the case for much broader support for an attack.

Note: This piece is cross-posted at View From Damavand.

Lee Smith, a rising star in the Middle East analysis world, has an excellent exploration over at Newsweek of the alliance against an Iranian bomb in the region.

Although most fear an Israeli attack on Iran, Smith lays out the case for much broader support for an attack.  Indeed, he presents an Israeli attack as a backup to a far more compelling case for an American-led attack on behalf of Arab states.  In the final paragraph he notes:

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal explained to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that sanctions against Iran did not offer the immediate solution required to stop the revolutionary regime’s push for a nuclear weapon. This sentiment was echoed a few weeks back by the United Arab Emirates’ ambassdor to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, who calculated that bombing Iran was preferable to an Iranian bomb. Even as the ambassador later backtracked, the Middle East’s worst-kept secret was now in the public record: the Arabs are even more concerned than the Israelis about an Iranian bomb.

via Our Proxy War in the Middle East – Newsweek

The Persians have a history of being closer to the West than do the Arabs.  The alignment of so many disparate interests against Iran is a sad reflection of the disastrous course that the Ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad have taken.  They have converted the Persian nation into a uniter of some of the world’s most bitter enemies … and against Iran.

Read the rest of Lee Smith’s Our Proxy War in the Middle East.   If you want to read more of his insights, he writes a regular column for Tablet Magazine.

Written by JamesEJ

Monday, August 16, 2010 at 1:44 am

Posted in international

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Understanding Iran – View From Damavand

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View From Damavand

View From Damavand is a new website on a variety of Iran-oriented issues.  My good friend Yashar is the person behind it.  He has asked me to contribute on issues related to the cold, and sometimes hot, conflict between Iran and Israel.  Here is my introductory entry:

Israeli intelligence … and the chance of a strike. | View From Damavand.

Written by JamesEJ

Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Posted in international

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From Mossad to Kurdistan …

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Point of No Return is an excellent blog that covers stories about Jews in the Middle East and North Africa.  It culls the news from an impressive array of sources and provides original pieces in what is a must-read source for all things Jewish in Arab countries.  Here is an excerpt of an interview of a Mossad agent, Jayzi-Ghazi, who helped the Kurds:

Aliayzar: In Mossad, we didn’t have ability to choose to where we could go. Sometimes, we would go to countries which we were against and we would go to their homes and they didn’t like to see us. You read their letters and listen to their talks without their consent. Sometimes you would face dictatorships. Anyway, you have no choice and you must obey. However, we were all happy to work in Kurdistan, because we knew that they were an oppressed nation.

via Point of no return: Mossadnik wants to become first Kurdish consul.

Israeli-Kurdish cooperation is an important start for what should be much broader Jewish support for our Kurdish friends.

Written by JamesEJ

Friday, July 23, 2010 at 7:28 pm

AMIA massacre 16 years later …

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Z-Word over at the AJC comes through in reminding us of the AMIA massacre of Jews in Buenos Aires by Hezbollah 16 years ago today, and giving us an update on the current situation:

Though the AMIA massacre occurred on July 18th, 1994 the official commemoration of its sixteenth anniversary took place on the 16th. In these two stories covering the events that took place you’ll find Guillermo Borger, head of the AMIA community organization. the one directly affected by the attack, praising the “good performance” of the present administration with regard to the investigation into the attack and lauding Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s “bravery” in calling for the extradition of the Iranian fugitives in her speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

via Two Theses On The AMIA Massacre at Z-Word Blog.

Here in Iowa City, I have heard several people refer to Hezbollah as “brave”, “freedom fighters”, and other such nonsense.  Such people need to read about the AMIA bombing (that killed 85 and wounded hundreds) and learn that groups like Hezbollah are not simply enemies of Israel.  They are enemies of the Jews and all tolerant people everywhere.

Read the full post at Z-Word.

Written by JamesEJ

Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 9:51 pm

The Kurds were good to Jews and so …

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I have always been a supporter of the Kurdish people, their right to establish a state, and our obligation (as Americans, Jews, etc.) to help them.  I did not, however, always know about the unique debt that we Jews owe to the Kurds.  Last week, The Jerusalem Post illuminated my understanding:

We have a moral and a historic debt to the Kurdish people in all the geographic regions in which they live, especially the Kurdish community in Iraq. Following the riots, pogroms and harsh conditions that Iraqi Jews were exposed to, since the founding of the State of Israel and even before, it was the Kurdish people who helped Jewish families escape from Iraq to Turkey, and from there to reach the Land of Israel.

via Where is our gratitude to the Kurdish people? - The Jerusalem Post.

Particularly at this time, when Iran is making itself into a pariah and Turkey is moving away from the West, we have an obligation to reciprocate the support we have received from the Kurds.   Just as the Jews were stateless, so too are the Kurds stateless.  Many of them need our support both in Kurdistan and among their diaspora.  We should do more to establish and maintain diplomacy with them and for them.  Read the rest of the piece at The Jerusalem Post.

Written by JamesEJ

Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Posted in international

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Incentivizing terror …

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Evelyn Gordon over at Commentary has a compelling lesson for ineffective resistance groups:

They haven’t yet grasped what the perceptive Palestinians realized four decades ago: if you want the West to help you achieve your goals, you have to attack the West directly.

Via Commentary - Mohammed Oudeh’s Lesson: Attacking the West Pays

That is why America (and more so, Europe) needs to have a more comprehensive strategy for dealing with groups that have grievances against other parties.  We need to seek recourse for oppressed groups that make just claims.  But, once an active component of that group resorts to terrorism against us and our interests, we must de-escalate our pursuit of justice for them in favor of claimants that have not engaged in such barbarism.

So, let’s start with the Kurds.  They are probably the largest stateless people.  They are quasi-independent in Iraq.  Turkey has been waging a diplomatic war against us already.  And, Iran deserves to have us support the Kurds.  Let’s not help the PKK in particular, but there are other more moderate groups … Is there any people more deserving of our help?  Is there any people that we could help that would more clearly demonstrate a realignment of our strategy?

Written by JamesEJ

Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Posted in international, other

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Better off Gazan … the humanitarian non-crisis.

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Yemini Ben-Dror brings us some impressive observations over at Maariv (Hebrew).  The Gaza Strip has a higher life expectancy and a lower infant mortality than Iran, Turkey, and many Arab countries.  Moreover, in part because of high fertility and a young population, it has one of the lowest death rates in the world.  Indeed, the Gaza Strip has a booming population growth that outpaces almost every other country.

These facts would not be possible if Israel were cutting off needed food and medicine.  The simple reality is that Gazans are better off than most of their Arab and Muslim neighbors.  There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  Israel’s blockade is in place for security reasons and these facts conclusively prove that allegations to the contrary are completely unsupported by data.

Written by JamesEJ

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm

Getting stoned in Iran …

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The Stoning of Soraya M

The Stoning of Soraya M.

… is not the same as getting stoned in America.  In fact, it is nearly the opposite.

On Tuesday, major news outlets around the world were alerting people to the threat facing Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtianin.  She has already been punished with 99 lashes for the simple crime of adultery.  Now, she may face death by stoning  for the same crime.

If you have difficulty imagining the horrific brutality and wanton cruelty of such a punishment, watch The Stoning of Soraya M. It is a difficult movie to watch, but its story is compelling.  Although the intrigue of the movie is probably not matched in this case, the basic facts are similar.  A woman – a mother – is accused and found guilty of adultery and is sentenced to death by stoning.  The method requires the woman to be buried from the waist down before she is pelted by rocks – any one of which is non-lethal.

If you want to learn about the current case, there is much in the news.  CNN has an excellent feature article on it.  Here is an excerpt:

[T]he panel re-examined Ashtiani’s adultery sentence, and based on unspecified “judges’ knowledge,” decided she should be put to death for the alleged affair.

[...]

“Legally, it’s all over, and we have no chance. It’s a done deal. Sakine can be stoned at any minute. But we have experienced again and again that when we organize events world-wide, when we protest world-wide, and in particular when we contact European governments and these governments put pressure on the Islamic regime in Iran, sometimes we have a chance.”

via Son pleads for help as mother awaits stoning in Iran – CNN.com.

Read more in the news at this link.

Written by JamesEJ

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 12:01 am

Posted in human rights

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