Friday, April 30, 2010

Clinton says Iran has an anti-Semitic president - the key slander against Iran

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has planned to come to the United Nations for the review conference of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. For Ahmadinejad to spend an extended period in the United States offers a valuable opportunity to communicate with the people of the United States and to present Iranian positions on the region directly and without re-interpretation.

The United States foreign policy community, the community that presents information to Americans about the Middle East ranges from extremely hostile to Iran to somewhat neutral. There is no mainstream anti-Zionist voice in the US foreign policy community - and parties supportive of Zionism, even liberals such as Juan Cole and Flynt and Hillary Leverett, while better than their most rabidly anti-Iranian colleagues, are unable to present Iran's view of the region sympathetically.

Because of this, it is more important for Ahmadinejad to present Iran's views in his own words - preferably in formats that will produce full transcripts in English - whether interviews or speeches. Hopefully we will see a lot of communication by Ahmadinejad with people in the United States recorded during his next visit.

The single most important piece of the anti-Iranian platform being constructed by supporters of Israel in their efforts to cause the United States to confront Iran and to limit Iran's development is the idea that Iran is anti-Semitic, the idea that Iran, or its president hates Jewish people.
Iran, with its anti-Semitic president and hostile nuclear ambitions, also continues to threaten Israel, but it also threatens the region and it sponsors terrorism against many
It is very important for Ahmadinejad to address this idea directly.

When Ahmadinejad is asked about the Holocaust or about Israel, he is really being asked - and unfortunately because he did not grow up inside of the US or Western European political culture he may very well not realize what he is really being asked - "do you hate Jews?"

If he is well advised, he will address the question of whether or not he has hostility against Jewish people directly. To do so would very effectively blunt an effort that aims to convince the people of the United States that the people of Iran deserve economic sanctions and even that Iranian civilians can justifiably be killed in defense of Israel.

He will be asked about the Holocaust. Ahmadinejad has said, repeatedly, that he does not make any assertion about the number of people killed or the extent of the Holocaust, but that his questions are was the Holocaust carried out by Europeans, why should Palestinians pay the price for it and does it justify the oppression of Palestinians today.

It is important to also include in his response that there are people, such as Hillary Clinton, who accuse him of hating Jewish people - and this slander has dangerous implications because it motivates the people of the United States to favor hostile policies against the people of Iran.

When Ahmadinejad is asked about the Holocaust, he is being asked whether or not he hates Jewish people. It is very important that he answer both questions. If he is to answer only one, the question of whether or not Clinton is right that he is an anti-Semite is the more important one.

He will be asked whether or not he believes there should be an Israel. Ahmadinejad routinely says that the people of the territory, including the refugees whose removal was an injustice, should be able to vote, and if they do not want a Jewish their wishes should be respected.

When he is asked about Israel, he is really being asked whether or not he is an anti-Semite. It is important that he deal with that question. US audiences have been conditioned to believe he is calling for the death of all or nearly all Jewish people in the territory of Palestine. It is important that he take note of what many people in the US already believe, refute that belief and the people who encourage that belief and then answer the literal question being asked.

Statements like "before I answer that question, I want to talk about the claim that some people make, claiming to defend Israel, that I somehow hate people who are Jewish, or that I support Adolf Hitler or the German's during World War II" and then refuting that underlying claim could seriously damage the campaign to present Iran to the people of the United States as a nation deserving of hostility.

Ahmadinejad's public communications with English-speaking audiences, as they always are, will be very important during his trip to New York City. Assuming the trip is approved by the US State Department, which I'm sure is looking for any pretext to deny it if possible. If the opportunities to speak to the United States are used well, it can mark a substantial improvement in US understanding of Iranian principles.


Lysander said...

Well, here's to hoping he reads your blog. His best bet would be to avoid challenging the details of the Holocaust and to state that it was a calamity that occured in Europe, by Europeans against Europeans. Not only Germans, were involved, but that it couldn't happened without a large network of European collaborators. How then does Europe come to lecture the Muslim world about it? Why does it seem that Europeans are always trying to transfer their guilt to others? Read any statement by Angela Merkel and you would get the impression that Hitler was Iranian.

He should hammer that point over and over again. It is Logical, fair, and historically accurate and does not offend the numerous people, Jewish or otherwise, who are disinclined towards Zionism.

Arnold Evans said...

The Charlie Rose interview as well as an interview with a Russian network does not have the Holocaust or Israel come up directly at all.

My guess is Ahmadinejad has been coached not to go out of his way to bring it up and his interviewers are aware that the current perception of him could only be improved by his answering direct questions so they are not being asked.

We'll see how interviews go for the rest of the trip.

I think it is a slow but steady process to undo the misrepresentations about both Dr. Ahmadinejad and through him about Iran that have gained traction in the West. I'm happy to see the process being engaged.