The Zionist Conspiracy
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Iranians and Israel
Fascinating column in the Beirut Daily Star by Karim Sadjadpour about Iranians' frustration with their dictatorship's obsessive hatred for Israel. Here are extensive excerpts:
There is perhaps no government in the world more outspoken in its enmity toward Israel than the Islamic Republic of Iran. Tehran’s ruling mullahs routinely denounce the “Zionist entity,” send millions of dollars to pro-Palestinian militant groups and provide an economic lifeline for Lebanon’s Hizbullah.
However, unlike Arab governments, which have for decades employed the “Palestinian card” to curry favor with their domestic constituencies, the Iranian regime is discovering that its glorification of the Palestinian cause is having the reverse effect domestically. Rather than applaud efforts on behalf of Palestine, Iranians are today increasingly voicing frustration at the Islamic Republic’s contempt for Israel and seeming obsession with being “more Palestinian than the Palestinians.” It is a policy, they argue, that is being carried out at the expense of Iran’s own citizens...
Iran’s young population - approximately 70 percent of Iranians are under 30 years of age - has little interest in marching onwards to Jerusalem. On the contrary, many disavow the anti-Zionism and radical politics of their parents’ generation, saying it brought them nothing but an oppressive religious theocracy...
As one 23 year-old engineering student at Tehran University put it: “We are tired of the pro-Palestinian propaganda. Why is our government so preoccupied with them? We have so many problems of our own.” Young Iranians’ frustration was in evidence during last summer’s student protests. Amid calls for greater democracy and freedom, one popular slogan delivered in rhythmic Persian was: “Forget about the Palestinians! Take care of us!”
Many see Iran’s moribund economy as partly a result of the country’s embrace of international radicalism, which has damaged foreign business ties. After years in international isolation, young Iranians in particular are anxious to have contact with the global community and rid themselves of their tarnished international reputation. Most are not granted foreign visas, and those who are often come back from abroad discouraged. “I see the way people look at me when I travel,” complained one youth. “Immediately, they think, ‘Watch out for the Iranian, he might be a terrorist.’ I blame our government for cultivating this image by supporting radical groups.”
A 31-year-old Tehran carpenter perhaps best captured the general sentiment: “We don’t have a problem with Israel, that’s the Arabs’ problem. If the government were to stop supporting Hizbullah tomorrow, I think most people wouldn’t mind. On the contrary, if people thought that that money would go to their own families instead, many of them would be happy...”
“Our government is only preoccupied with slogans: ‘Death to America,’ ‘Death to Israel,’ ‘Death to this and that,’” a middle-aged woman queuing up to give blood told The Guardian, adding: “We have had three major earthquakes in the past three decades. Thousands of people have died, but nothing has been done. Why?”