Anti-Semitism as a Worldwide Phenomenon
Many concepts, stories, and myths that are explicitly or implicitly anti-Semitic have been imported into Iran from Europe during late 19th century and early 20th century.
Of course, the modern imported anti-Semitism has existed side-by-side with some anti-Semitic traditions in Iran, which made life more difficult for the Iranian Jewish community. But, the claim that anti-Semitic teachings are exclusively Iranian and that Iran is an anti-Semitic nation is not only in contradiction with what has been happening in Iran, as described above, but also represents an unfair historical assessment of Iran as a nation. Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is a phenomenon that is increasingly seen in many Western and Asian countries. Despite worldwide efforts, anti-Semitism has survived, and is being revived in some countries. Under such conditions, Iran, given its cultural and political structure, has been far less accepting of the anti-Semitism cliché. This is, of course, parallel to the discourse of some Iranian officials that make a lot of noise by their anti-Semitic clams, but they are generally on the margin.
Israel and anti-Semitism
An important point neglected by those who lead the anti-Iran project by demonizing it is the role that the extreme policies of Netanyahu and his cohorts has played in strengthening anti-Jewish sentiments and tendencies. As Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently put it, the current Knesset is the most racist parliament in Israel's history. Michael Morell, former Deputy CIA Director warned Israel not to work with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda branch in Syria, which Haaretz had reported on. Twice over the past six years, in 2009 and 2015, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, has accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza. Israel does not appear to be interested in having real peace with the Palestinians. It neither accepts the two-state solution, nor is it wiling to form a single state in which Israelis and Palestinians can enjoy equal rights. In fact, as part of his re-election campaign last March, Netanyahu declared that no independent Palestinian state will form, so long as he remains the Prime Minister of Israel. And, in June Israel's Defense Minister, Moshe Yaa'lon, said that there would be no peace with the Palestinians during his life time.
According to a conditional proposition, if Islamic terrorist commit crimes, they stain Islam's good name and help spread Islamophobia.According to the same conditional proposition, if Israel occupies other people's lands, commits crimes, and establish an apartheid regime in the West Bank, it would make a bad name for Judaism and help spread anti-Semitism.Both cases are true because ordinary masses are not philosophers and deep thinkers, and thus are not capable of distinguishing a religion from what its adherents do.
Israel's Negative Role in the Developments of the Iranian Society
Despite some official and semi-official statements that have contained anti-Semitism, the overall trends in the Iranian society and even in the fundamental developments after the 1979 Revolution indicate the gradual breaking and isolation of many failedanti-Semitic symbols and traditions. One can even see such positive developments in the dialogues between religions and the more modern interpretation of religious teachings. Moreover, the increasingly educated Iranian society, the internet and other means of mass communications, and Iran's young population have increasingly been challenging the older confrontational discourse, and have created very positive trends. But, Netanyahu's repeating threats against Iran, making new accusations against it at every opportunity and, most important of all, the continuation of structural discrimination of Israel against the Palestinians, have hurt the positive trends that are aimed at cleansing the minds of anti-Semitism thinking. Mixing Iran with all types of anti-Semitism and even the entire structure of the Islamic Republic that has helped grow many contradictory tendencies, can potentially and in practice strengthen anti-Semitism, or at the very least slow down the positive trends.
Undoubtedly, post-1979 Revolution Iran has been synonymous with supporting the Palestinians, both morally and materially. But, it would be a grave mistake if we view such sentiments as purely governmental. Solidarity of the masses with the Palestinians generates anti-Israel sentiments that are often tied with anti-Semitic statements. Some of such sentiments are the fruits of the constant foreign threats against Iran, particularly at a time when Iran is in a strategic competition for recognition as a regional power. The unwise domestic and foreign policies of the Islamic Republic and the reaction of the American extreme right to them have not only not helped the trends for eliminating anti-Semitism, but also hurt them.
Despite Netanyahu's desires and goals, finalizing the nuclear agreement with Iran will open a window to further progress toward resolving the problems that the Middle East is facing. Iran and Israel must end their enmity toward each other. A Middle East devoid of weapon of mass destruction, a just solution for the confrontation between Israel and Palestinians and establishment of an independent Palestinian state, a collective security agreement that guarantees the security of every nation, and ending ethnic and sectarian wars are the prime factors that will contribute to lessening and eventually ending religious and ethnic hatred. War does not solve any problem, but creates new and complex ones.
Khamenei and Netanyahu's Fabrication of History
Israel and its powerful lobby in the United States invent an anti-Semitic Iran in order to focus all attentions on it. The invention is meant to distract attention from the fundamental true problems of the Middle East, such as occupation of the Palestinians' land by Israel, discrimination, the apartheid system that Israel has set up in the West Bank, and permanent was and instability in the region. Democratization of the Middle East and improving the state of human rights can be achieved only through collective security for all, elimination of discrimination, ending occupation of other people's lands, and removing all weapons of mass destruction from the region. Which state in the Middle East opposes elimination of the weapons of mass destruction? Only Israel.
Similar to Netanyahu who has been trying to scare the world of the Iran "menace" to distract attention from Israel-Palestinians confrontation, Khamenei is also trying to distract attention from his problems at home by talking about Zionism control and power. In a speech on 16 July 2011, he said,
"Today, the problems that many European countries, such as Britain, France, and Germany are grappling with are due to the dominance of a malicious network of Zionists in these countries. They [European governments} are terrified by the Zionist capitalists and owners of corporations, whose number is very large. The same thing is true in the United States. Flattering the Zionists is very common among the powerful in the United States, and is more or less the same in Europe. When nations [of the world] - both American and European - recognize that their problems are due to the dominance of this satanic network [of Zionists], they surely will be more determined and more motivated [to confront the network]."
Thus, despite their enmity toward each other, Khamenei and Netanyahu actually strengthen each other, and want the other to survive politically, so that by inventing a new history, they can marginalize the fundamental problems they are facing. Netanyahu wants the people to forget about Israel's occupation of the Palestinian lands and the apartheid system that he has set up there, and Khamenei is trying to distract attention from his dictatorial rule and gross violation of human rights by his regime. Khamenei is the leader of an "Islamic government," while Netanyahu wants the Palestinians to accept Israel as a "Jewish state."
Through his rhetoric about eventual destruction of Israel, rejecting the Holocaust, and proclaiming "an endless confrontation with the United States," Ayatollah Khamenei has transformed himself to a servant of Israel, because Israel takes advantage of the rhetoric, but it will be Iran and Iranians who must pay a heavy price for the rhetoric.
Political Justice for World Peace
Inventing new a history, such as those espoused by Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington, are dangerous and catastrophic. Such efforts are favored by those who are pursuing war between religions. But, to have peace, another history must be "invented." We must understand that pluralism can be eliminated only through Holocaust-type oppression.Religious, moral and philosophical teachings should not give rise to new wars. In his books, Political Liberalism and A Theory of Justice, American moral and political philosopher John Rawls proposes overlapping consensus for a lasting peaceful co-existence.
The political image of justice is made by comprehensive religious, moral and philosophical teachings. There are raw materials in each of such teachings that must be selected carefully in order to create worldwide political justice. It is in this way that overlapping consensus emerges.
Destruction of the Middle East and the United States National Interests
Netanyahu and Israel's radical right are interested only in attacking Iran. This is the same Netanyahu, who supported U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2002, declaring that,
"If you take out Saddam, Saddam's regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region," Mr. Netanyahu said then. "And I think that people sitting right next door in Iran, young people, and many others will say the time of such regimes, of such despots is gone."
And Israel's ambitions for transforming the Middle East did not end with Iraq invasion. Right before invasion of Iraq, Haaretz reported that
"Senior IDF officers and those close to [then] Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, such as National Security Advisor Ephraim Halevy, paint a rosy picture of the wonderful future Israel can expect after [the Iraq] war. They envision a domino effect, with the fall of Saddam Hussein followed by that of Israel's other enemies: [Yasser] Arafat, Hassan Nasrallah, Bashar Assad, the mullahs in Iran and maybe even Muammar Gadhafi." (p. 257),
After Saddam Hussein was toppled, Israel turned its attention to Syria. In a conference held at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on 3 May 2003, Halevy said, "[Bashar] Assad was prone to bad influence. He cannot be left to his old tricks." The Washington Post reported in April 2003, only a month after invasion of Iraq, that Sharon and his Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz "were fueling the campaign against Syria by feeding the United States intelligence reports about the actions of Syrian President Assad." On 16 April 2003, Zev Chafets, former head of the Israeli government press office, wrote an article for the New York Daily News titled "Terror-Friendly Syria Needs a [Regime] Change too."
Netanyahu is still pursuing military attacks by the United States on Iran by inventing a non-existent "anti-Semitic" Iran. The United States should re-evaluate its interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya, to see whether the destruction of these nations serves its national interests. Undoubtedly, destroying the Middle East benefits the radical right in Israel, but is not in any other nation's interests. Likewise, inventing an "anti-Semitic" Iran only serves the radical right in Israel, but hurts the national interests of the United States. But, Netanyahu does not bother with facts, and believes that he can use the United States to advance his agenda. The nuclear deal between the six world powers and Iran melted into the air the nuclear bomb Netanyahu has been inventing for Iran. Hence Haaretz writes : "Poor Netanyahu, the world has taken away his most beloved toy - the Iranian bomb".
The world and particularly the Middle East need such leaders as Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi. We should repeat an undeniable fact: insecurity and war destroy prospects for democracy and respect for human rights, and will not allow them to bloom.
The readers can read the first five parts in the following:
This series of articles was translated by Ali N. Babaei.