Monday, May 28, 2018

  • Monday, May 28, 2018
  • Elder of Ziyon
An op-ed in Arab News by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh describes why Iranian antisemitism and anti-Israel positions are strategic.

To begin with, the clerics did not view their power and revolution as limited to Iran’s borders. One of the vital parts of the regime’s pursuit of regional domination is expanding its influence in the Levant, which has considerable strategic importance in the region. Having a presence in the Levant ensures Iran’s access to the Mediterranean Sea and grants the mullahs a significant edge over the Arab world. Competing with, outdoing, outperforming, and dominating powerful Arab states is one of Iran’s regional aims.

To achieve such an objective, the most effective way was to create an enemy. Which enemy is better than a powerful state such as Israel?  From the mullahs’ perspective, having such a strong enemy would justify Tehran’s intensive military adventurism and expansionist policies in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine.

It would also justify Iran’s efforts to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and allocate a significant part of its budget to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its elite branch, the Quds Force, which is in charge of clandestine and extraterritorial military operations.

Secondly, projecting an obsessive hostility toward Israel paves the way for the Iranian leaders to defend establishing “resistance” groups, such as Hezbollah. In truth, these so-called resistance groups act on behalf of the Iranian regime, advancing its interest in the region, and assist Tehran in interfering in the domestic affairs of Arab nations.

Third, having Israel as an enemy helps the mullahs to repress domestic opposition.  One of the charges commonly used to silence dissidents and opponents is being a “Zionist spy.” The penalty can range from long imprisonment to death.

Finally, the Islamic Republic is a revolutionary regime that sits on the bedrock of its extremist founders’ ideology. One of the core revolutionary principals of Khomeini and his gilded circle was anchored in anti-Semitism. The execution in May 1979 of Habib Elghanian, the head of the Jewish community, a businessman, and a philanthropist — after a 20-minute trial on trumped-up charges — was the regime’s first robust anti-Semitic message to Jewish communities and the rest of the world.

Threats to annihilate Israel, Holocaust denial by senior officials such as former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and hosting anti-Semitic events such the annual Holocaust Cartoon Competition are common practices within the clerical establishment, and are further examples of the regime’s anti-Semitic stance.

The mullahs’ obsession with Israel has nothing to do with defending and advancing the cause of the oppressed Palestinian people. It is for strategic and ideological reasons; to export the ruling clerics’ extremist ideology, to dominate and expand its influence in the Levant, to justify its military adventurism, and to more easily suppress domestic opposition and dissent. 
The analysis seems pretty solid, and the fact that Arab News published it is significant - it means that traditionally antisemitic Arabs are starting to viewing hating Jews as a bad thing, under some circumstances.



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