Sunday, August 21, 2016

Solving the Iran Problem Could Help Solve the Palestinian Problem, but not Vice Versa

by Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker

Intellectual ConservativeInternational Analyst Network,  May 18, 2009

U.S. President Barack H. Obama (and his National Security Advisor, General James Jones, as well as his White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel), the Quartet’s Middle-East Emissary and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have it backwards: attempting to solve the Palestinian statehood question will not solve the Iranian problem; in fact, it will exacerbate it, as it permits the Tehran regime to continue to play the role of spoiler by its supplying of weaponry, training and funding to its rejectionist Arab proxies: Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. In assuming that these jihadist terrorist groups can be converted to a position that accepts the sovereign Jewish State of Israel (in whatever configuration of borders) they are as likely to achieve success as they would be in a project seeking to raise Satan back into Heaven and the good graces of God. As the popular saying goes, “Hell will freeze over five times” before the jihadists change their ways.

On the other hand, if the Iranian problem is solved—whether through application of the military option (a difficult and costly operation) or through the application of very stringent sanctions and embargoes—particularly of all refined petroleum products, causing the shaky Iranian economy to implode, and thereby forcing the regime to change its ways (highly unlikely) or else face the wrath of the Iranian people which has supported over 5000 anti-regime demonstrations and acts of protest annually for the past three years, and risk a popular revolution—whatever causes the Iranian government to change  its tune (reform being unlikely and revolution possible if concessions to the mullah regime are ended), the results will mean that the support for the Arab rejection front—especially the jihadists—will disappear. Without Iranian funds and weaponry, Hamas and Hizballah cannot survive as spoilers. And once these jihadist rejectionists are removed from the picture, Palestinian moderates could be capable of finding their voices once again.

Our three savants have suggested that if Israel only makes more concessions to the Palestinians, it will help the moderate Arab regimes to unite against Iran and its nuclear program. Plain and simple: they’ve got it backwards. Maybe it’s because Semitic languages like Hebrew and Arabic go from right to left, and European languages go the opposite way, but the three are not reading events correctly. The truth is that because of convergent interests to prevent radical Islamist groups from gaining power, the moderate Arab states such as, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, which already have peaceful relations with Israel, and Saudi Arabia which talks to Israel a lot more behind the scenes than most realize, already are aboard the anti-Iran train. So, while Palestinian statehood is an important issue, it is not the magic catalyst needed to cement together an anti-Iran coalition.  The Arab “moderates” already are united in opposing Iran and its blatant interference in Arab affairs in Iraq and Lebanon and covert interference elsewhere throughout the Arab world.

Egypt’s recent discovery of a Hizballah network on its soil, attempting not only to smuggle weaponry supplied by Iran through Egypt into Gaza to re-supply Hamas, but also to destabilize Egypt through a series of terrorist attacks on Egyptian soil with particular concentration on Sinai resorts where many of the potential victims are likely to be Israelis, served as a wake up call to the Mubarak government of the danger that this Iranian proxy poses to the land of the Nile. President Mubarak regarded the Hizballah operation as a threat to Egypt’s national security and publicly said as much on April 23rdEgypt’s government–controlled press went so far as to accuse the network of conspiring to stage a coup in Egypt. The Lebanese newspaper al-Mustakbal reports that Egypt has identified four of the 49-member terror network as agents of the al-Quds unit of the Iranian Pasdaran (Islamic Revolution Guard Corps). The result of this discovery, made in late 2008, but kept under wraps until about a month ago, has been to cause Egypt to view Iran as its enemy and Israel as an ally in the war against the Islamist jihad emanating from Tehran and the various branches of the Muslim Brotherhood.

If one follows the recommendations of these three naifs, unfortunately we get results where the jihadists regard themselves as having achieved another victory. Every concession or retreat from territories conquered in wars, whether it be from southern Lebanon occupied from 1982 to 2000 in order to prohibit the PLO and other Palestinian radical groups from attacking northern Israel, or the Gaza Strip—occupied from 1967 to 2005 as a result of the 1967 Six-Day War—has resulted in jihadist groups such as Hizballah (in Lebanon) and Hamas (in Gaza) taking over and using the vacated territories as launching pads for attacks on Israel. Rather than decreasing the antagonism of these radical groups to Israel and the West, retreat has caused them to increase their antagonism as they believe that they are drawing closer to the day of their ultimate victory. The recent attack of the Taliban in Pakistan—breaking out of the Swat Valley and marching into neighboring Buner—is the result of concessions made to the Taliban in earlier agreements made by the Pakistani government that attempted to achieve a ceasefire.

What Obama, Blair, and Merkel seem to forget is that Hamas is a first cousin of al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda is an ally of the Taliban. All three ultimately are the progeny of the Sunni radical fundamentalist (Islamist) Muslim Brotherhood. And although Hizballah, both in Lebanon and Iraq, is a Shiite radical fundamentalist organization that is loyal to the Khomeinist regime of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the goals vis-√†-vis Israel and the West are remarkably similar despite the doctrinal differences between Shia and Sunni. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman astutely has asked: “How does one negotiate with a party that seeks one’s destruction? What is there to negotiate?” The Iranian mullah regime and its proxies Hizballah and Hamas have been quite open about their shared goals: for 30 years we have heard a steady litany of curses, condemnations, and maledictions upon the West in general and the United States and Israel in particular. In that same time period we have seen that the Islamist Iranian regime has taken every possible opportunity to attack America, as well as American and Western interests. Today, and for the last five years, Iraq in large degree has been a proxy war with Iran.  The resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan was aided and abetted through material aid given to the Taliban and al-Qaeda by the Tehran mullahs at the agency of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. That Iran and the Taliban often have been enemies in the past should not blind us to the truth and applicability to our situation of the old Middle-Eastern adage: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Iran will support the Taliban and al-Qaeda as long as it is useful to do so in its war with the West.

Returning our focus to the Palestine statehood question, it should be stressed that as long as the radical fundamentalists such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a strong voice in Palestinian politics—something that will continue as long as Tehran has the ability to fund and supply these radicals—the voice of the moderates, of people like Professor Sari Nussibeh, will be silenced, and fruitful dialogue stymied. If Obama, Blair, and Merkel really want to hear the voice of moderation from the Palestinian side—and it would behoove them to be sure that Arabic statements correspond with English ones—they will need to take adequate steps to silence the cacophony that issues from the kakistocracy of Tehran.

One of the quickest ways to alert the Tehran regime that we are no longer taken in by its ruses and subterfuges, and that we indeed mean business, is to undo the ridiculous 1997 political error of placing the principal Iranian opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), aka Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), on the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organization list (FTO). Done as a political gift to the Khatami regime, it was a travesty of justice as well as a political blunder, and should be reversed just as similar proscriptions were removed in the U.K and the E.U. at the order of the respective high courts of each as they reviewed the case earlier this year. Leveling the playing field between the Iranian opposition and the Tehran regime costs us nothing; it just might allow the Iranian people to save everyone else a lot of grief as they rescue their democratic revolution from the hands of the mullahs who hijacked and destroyed it 30 years ago.

The Obama administration has made it a hallmark of its policy to oppose any and all abuse of human rights, especially of minorities and women. If this noble policy is to have validity, it must be applied equally throughout the world. The Obama government cannot close its eyes to Iran’s 30-year abysmal record on human rights and continue to protect the mullah regime from its democratic opposition, the PMOI/MEK. Now is the time to take the PMOI off of the FTO, an action requested of President Obama by 503 European parliamentarians just this past week. If this is done, the mullahs will finally begin to take us seriously and realize that we mean what we say. But, as long as the PMOI remains on the FTOTehran knows that we are bluffing, and that we’re doing a lousy job of it.

Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching our elected officials and the public of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism and the need to establish genuine democratic institutions in the Middle-East as an antidote to the venom of fundamentalism. He may be contacted at

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