Israeli attacks must not humiliate the Iranian people – Comment


“They say time changes things, but actually you have to change them yourself,” says Andy Warhol.

The Pop Art artist’s famous paintings of Campbell’s soup cans and Coca-Cola bottles were criticized for their celebration of conformity, but his insight into change, be it cultural, social or political, was correct: it never comes by itself .

This certainly applies to revolutionary Iran, where everyone except its oligarchy has been waiting in vain for changes for 42 years.

Now that the seventh president is preparing to succeed the sixth, the question arises what Iranian voters have just said, where their country is going and what the Jewish state should be doing. And the answers are that the people are bitter, their country is in the doldrums, and Israel should let it change itself.

Iranian elections have never been free, but what happened last week was different even by the standards of the Khomeini Revolution.

Yes, non-Islamist candidates could not even dream of being allowed to run, including no one else who would be unpleasant for the regime and the entire female population.

Even so, the regime used to try to create an impression of democracy by choreographing presidential competitions between hardliners and pragmatists. Mohammad Khatami became president in 1997 and campaigned for free speech, market reforms and a cultural thaw with the West.

That gospel was shattered in 2009 when the regime robbed reform candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi of his election victory and placed him under house arrest, where he continues to languish.

Nevertheless, the democratic masquerade continued. When Hassan Rouhani ran in 2013, he faced seven opponents, including a former commander of the Revolutionary Guard and a former commander of the Air Force.

Now even this veneer was cast. The clergy had a candidate and pushed aside anyone who could jeopardize their victory, even the notorious Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for whom they stole the 2009 elections.

With nearly 600 candidates disqualified and three of the seven who got the green light somehow eliminated, the clergy made way for her husband, Ebrahim Raisi. The man and the process that crowned him speak volumes about the regime’s growing fear and loss of eye contact with the people they purport to represent.

RAISI IS not a version of Hassan Rouhani or Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who graduated in the UK and the US, or Mohammad Khatami, who lived in Germany and speaks four languages. Raisi, on the other hand, didn’t even graduate from high school.

Not unknown is Raisi’s record as a prosecutor, which is harrowing. As a member of the Forum, which in 1988 sent an estimated 5,000 unchecked prisoners to the gallows, he is a butcher of his own people. (See Amnesty International, “Blood-drink secrets: Why Iran‘s 1988 Prison Massacres are Ongoing Crimes Against Humanity,” 2018.)

A regime that imposes on citizens a man who murdered innocent citizens en masse says it is afraid. And the regime is afraid for good reason.

With a population more than twice as large as when the Islamists took power; with industry held hostage by the Revolutionary Guards, whose chiefs unfairly win tenders and then praise cronies and side jobs; in the case of negligent planning that leads to dried up lakes, rivers and water taps and as the government fears corporate freedom and monetary discipline, the ever-shrinking economy is a reversal of the Shah’s era when jobs were plentiful and annual growth rates exceeded 10%.

On the eve of the coronavirus pandemic, unemployment in the greater Tehran area reportedly hit 41%. In some regions youth unemployment exceeded 60% and the unemployment rate among women with higher education exceeded 80%. The dollar, which cost less than 9,000 rials in Khatami’s time, now costs more than 230,000.

The pandemic further weakened the country after plaguing at least 3.11 million and killing at least 83,000 people – according to statistical website Worldometer.

Is it then surprising that more than half of the population did not vote? Life stinks, they effectively said, and the unelected clergy who run the show now want to turn the wheel over to the killer of our family. How much deeper can we sink?

In short, this is where Iran’s political degeneration has arrived. Now that its most violent leader since Ayatollah Khomeini approaches his rudder, the circumstances may some to believe that the circumstances call for an extravagant Israeli attack on Iran. Nothing could be more wrong.

The abuse of the Iranian people can only last a limited time. In the end, people will respond.

Waiting for that day to arrive takes a lot of patience and serenity, but we need to muster that. Millions across Iran know the truth. They know that Israel was never their enemy and did not take anything away from them. Many of them also know that the Jewish nation actually fondly remembers the Persian Empire, which restored the leveled Temple of Jerusalem and returned the Land of Israel to the Jews.

Millions of Iranians also know that Israeli-Iranian trade was brisk until the Islamists came to power and will resume in earnest the day the fundamentalists are removed.

And yes, the Israelis know that the Iranian nuclear program is intolerable and that it must absolutely be sabotaged. Even so, it should be done in a way that does not make the average Iranian feel that Israel has humiliated them.

Israel should initiate and also anticipate, but only tactically; Derail whatever the mullahs are forging over us, bomb their Syrian outposts, incite their nuclear operation, but avoid the big attack.

This attack should not come from outside, but from within and not from the air, but from below, and it should not be led by foreigners but by the great Persian people whom the Ayatollahs have so thoroughly disempowered, dispossessed and dishonored, and really scared now.

Amotz Asa-El’s bestseller Mitzad Ha’ivelet Ha’yehudi (The Jewish March of Folly, Yediot Sefarim, 2019) is a revisionist story of the leadership of the Jewish people from ancient times to modern times.

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