Benjamin Netanyahu has been re-elected Israeli prime minister, aided by his rewriting of history and by his selling of fear, knowing few will fact-check and that fear always has buyers in the general public.
He had disavowed most countries in the Middle East as untrustworthy and filled with hatred for Jews. In an effort to wreck the six nation effort to contain Iran’s nuclear ambition, he loudly declares that Iranians are inanely perfidious and in fact, their hatred for Jews is so deep it goes back to antiquity to their Persians ancestors.
First, let’s correct his delusional history.
The Jews have lived in the territories of today’s Iran for more than 2,700 years, since the first Jewish diaspora, when the Assyrians conquered the (Northern) Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE. Even the biblical books of Isaiah, Daniel, Ezra, Esther and Nehemiah contain references to the life and experiences of Jews in Persia.
After Babylon was defeated by the Persian king, Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE, Jews were freed from their “Babylonian captivity” and gradually returned to their homeland. But many of the Jewish deportees, or their dependents, did not return because they were quite satisfied with their treatment by the Persians.
Apparently, in an attempt to double down on Netanyahu’s delusional history, a writer claimed Persian hatred of Jews is found in the Book of Esther. Briefly, Haman, viceroy to the Persian king, vowed to kill all Jews in Persia. However the “rest of the story” was not told.
The Jewish Queen, Esther, complained to her “husband,” the Persain king, of Haman’s intensions and subsequently Haman was the first to be executed on the gallows he had built for executing the Jews. But enough of ancient history. What about today?
Fact: In 2009, more than 25,000 contented, though aging Jews, still chose to live in Iran, and about 9,000 Jews still live there today.
Now the Israel-Iran deal: Remember the Iran-Contra scandal during President Reagan’s second term? Briefly, some senior officials in the Reagan Administration wanted to provide assistance to the Contras for the purpose of overthrowing the Nicaraguan government but found themselves in a Catch-22.
Because the Boland amendment precluded assistance to the Contras without the consent of Congress, a scheme was devised (Reagan later denied knowledge of this) to launder money to assist the Contras by selling weapons to Iran. However, since Iran had been designated a “State Sponsor of Terrorism,” the U.S. could not directly sell weapons to them.
The Reagan Administration’s plan was for Israel to sell weapons through an intermediary to Iran, for which Israel would be reimbursed by the U.S. with the same weapons.
Millions of dollars of weapons were sent to Iran through Israel.
Perhaps Netanyahu believes that only Israel should make deals with Iran? So today Israel is an island of 6 million Jews in a sea of 1.5 billion Muslims. What is the best path for their survival? Clearly, clinging to the half-truths and fears embellished by Netanyahu will only galvanize radicalized Muslims and strengthen Iran’s case for the bomb.
Hopefully, the negotiations to contain Iran’s nuclear bomb have not been derailed, and a satisfactory agreement achieved by the ministers from six nations - Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the U.S.A - not just President Obama, as the GOP wants us to believe.
While we are certainly not comfortable with many, many aspects of Iran, it is an actual country with an actual government and we can negotiate with them in a civilized manner. One cannot negotiate with ISIS.
The absence of a deal with Iran would be sobering. Russian President Vladmir Putin would welcome an Islamic state indebted to him, and China is avid to find new markets. The continued boycott by western nations would necessitate and strengthen such economic geopolitical relationships.
Nothing could be worse for Israel and the stability of the Middle East.
Bombing a Russian-Chinese “ally” in desperate times could be much more dangerous than in the past.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.