Looking for ‘a new devil,’ Israeli leaders and supporters left scrambling after election of moderate Rouhani

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Hassan Rowhani flashes the victory sign after voting on June 14, 2013 (Photo: Getty)

Hassan Rouhani’s unexpected victory in this weekend’s Iranian election has sent Israeli hasbara into a tailspin. The desire for an Iranian bogeyman is so intense in the warmongering mainstream of Israeli and neoconservative discourse that any attempt to mask their pre-election desires and post-election frustration has been futile. Their entire game plan has been on display — every Iranian leader is a New Hitler and every New Hitler must be stopped.  The whole point is to stave off any possible reconciliation or even minor deflation of tensions between Iran and the West, namely the United States, so as to maintain permanent Israeli hegemony over the region and American largesse and diplomatic cover.  A thaw after thirty-four years in the US-Iran standoff is scarier to Israeli leaders than all the unborn Palestinian babies under occupation.  At least they’re already under Israeli control; the Islamic Republic of Iran never has been.

Daniel Pipes, that loathsome Likudnik, is at least clear about his hopes for the Iranian future.  It lies not in the aspirations of the Iranian people, but in the smoldering ruins of a joint US-Israeli airstrike.  Without a cartoonish scapegoat like the one the Western media made out of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad through their mistranslations and misinformation, Iran might not look so bombable.  So Pipes – and the rest of his despicable ilk – wished mightily for the conservative Saeed Jalili to win Friday’s vote, or rather, using the well-established narrative, that Jalili would be selected as the winner by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

A more moderate Iranian president, the neocons know, might signal a change in diplomatic dynamics and open the door to a less combative and punitive negotiating stance from the West.  Rouhani, especially, with his history as a nuclear negotiator and Master’s and doctorate degrees from a Scottish university, is an existential threat to well-worn Israeli propaganda of Iranian recalcitrance and obstinacy.

It was on Rouhani’s watch that Iran voluntarily suspended uranium enrichment in 2003 and accepted intrusive inspections above and beyond what was legally required by its safeguards agreement for two years, during which the IAEA affirmed the peaceful nature of the program.  It was only after Iran’s European negotiating partners, at the behest of the Americans, reneged on their promise to offer substantive commitments and respect Iran’s inalienable right to a domestic nuclear infrastructure that Iran resumed enrichment.  

The turnout for the vote – a whopping 72%, forecast accurately by pre-election polling – signals another chink in the armor of conventional hasbara.  Iranians, by and large, have faith that their voices matter and that change – or consistency – and progress can be achieved through the ballot box and by collective engagement within their nation’s political environment.  No, this doesn’t mean, of course, that everyone who voted on Friday is a supporter of the Islamic Republic as it is constituted today.  But it shows that the Iranian public is in no way looking to the skies for a savior in the form of an F-16 and is confident that change will only come from within Iran – by Iranians, for Iranians – not forced or foisted upon them by crippling sanctions or foreign troops.

Two days before the election, in an unprecedented and masterfully strategic move – Ayatollah Khamenei said in a speech, “My first recommendation is for an enthusiastic presence at the ballot box. It’s possible that an individual for some reason may not want to support the Islamic system, but he wants to support his country. Everyone must come out and vote.”

He added, “A maximum turnout at the ballot box is more important than anything else for the country. And the nation with a powerful action on Friday will prove its firm relationship and connection with the Islamic system and will once again make the enemy unfulfilled and hopeless,” concluding that, “No one knows the divine fate of the nation on Friday; however, the more votes the elected individual . . . receives, the more strength he has to stand against the nation’s enemy and defend the country’s interests.”

The Iranian electorate didn’t heed Khamenei’s words. Rather, Khamenei merely gave voice to how most Iranians already felt.  The Iranian political system, founded far more on resistance to foreign domination than on religious fundamentalism, is of great pride to most Iranians, regardless of their particular feelings about the legitimacy or potential longevity of a theocratic republic.

The massive turnout undermined Western prognostications of both Iranian disillusionment and disinterest; the election itself, the first one administered by a new, independent election committee, was proof that Iranians and Iran itself will continue to shirk the easy categorization and absurd stereotypes ubiquitous in our own media and politics.  After all, the centrist Rouhani, a long-time member of the highest echelons of the Iranian establishment whose candidacy was backed by two former presidents, was the only cleric in the race.

The same day Iranians took to the polls, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was in Washington D.C., delivering a speech at the AIPAC-affiliated Washington Institute for Near East Policy.  Ha’aretz journalist Barak Ravid reported,

The head of the Israeli defense establishment declared – without any reservations – that nothing will change as a result of the Iranian election and that, in any event, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will decide on the country’s next president.

It did not take long for the depth of Ya’alon’s embarrassment of himself, and of those on whose behalf he flew to Washington, became clear. At best, Ya’alon’s remarks reflected a serious error in judgment on the part of Israeli intelligence and provided additional proof of the limitations of Military Intelligence and the Mossad in predicting internal political shifts in Iran and in Arab states. At worst, his words reflected arrogance, prejudice and shooting from the hip of the very worst kind.

But how can we complain about Ya’alon, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in Poland on Wednesdsay that Iran’s “so-called” election will not bring about any meaningful change. Netanyahu’s and Ya’alon’s Pavlovian responses, as well as the statement issued by the Foreign Ministry on Saturday night, reflect the overall approach of the Likud government which rejects all change, exaggerates the threats, plays down the opportunities and sanctifies the status quo.

The only thing missing was for Netanyahu and Ya’alon to call for extending the term of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as in the case of Egypt and former President Hosni Mubarak.

Indeed, the Israeli response was swift and expected.  After years of insisting the Iranian President could single-handedly authorize a second Holocaust, Israel’s demagogue Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved quickly to keep the hysteria high.  ”Let us not delude ourselves,” he said in a press conference on Sunday. “The international community must not become caught up in wishes and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.”  Netanyahu also noted that the Iranian president wields no real power in Iran, a concept unmentioned throughout the Ahmadinejad era. “It’s the same Iran,” an Israeli government statement read.

Meanwhile, International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio on Sunday that, even though “the results are a credit to the Iranian people,” there would be no “change” in the Iranian nuclear program.  As such, he said, sanctions against Iran “must continue, regardless of the desire of the Iranian people for progress,” since, after all, Iran is the new Nazi Germany and “only a year or less away from the nuclear red line.”  Of course, according to Israeli estimates, Iran has been only a year away from this mysterious “red line” for a decade now and Steinitz has recently deemed the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran to be “equal to 30 nuclear North Koreas,” insisting that “if Iran gets the first few bombs, in a decade or so they will have 100 nuclear bombs.”

Back in September 2005, just a month into Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first term and before the new Iranian president uttered a mistranslated word about Israel and maps, Steinitz was making identical comments. 

“Despite all the different circumstances, we see similarities to what happened in the 1930s, when people underestimated the real problem or focused on other dangers. For us, either the world will tackle Iran in advance or all of us will face the consequences,” Steinitz, then-chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said during a trip to Washington.  ”Threats of sanctions and isolation alone will not do it.”

Indeed, for Israel, it’s always “the same Iran.”

Israeli politicians and pundits alike have been frustrated by Rouhani’s victory. Deputy Defense Minister Gilad Erdan “feared Rowhani’s win, and his reputation as a centrist and reformer, might lead the West to give Iran more leeway in diplomatic contacts over its rogue nuclear drive,” while Yedioth Ahronoth’s diplomatic affairs reporter Itamar Eichner noted that Israel now worries it will have difficulty convincing the United States to support a military attack.

Not all Israelis, however, reacted the same way.  Shimon Peres, for instance, welcomed the “good news.” 

Knesset minister Zahava Gal-on of Meretz issued a statement reading, “I extend my sympathy to the Israeli government that, with heavy heart and head hung low, must bid farewell to Ahmadinejad, who served as propaganda card and as an excellent source of excuses to avoid dealing with Israel’s real problems.”

“Where will the prime minister turn to now, when someone asks him about the Palestinian conflict?,” she wondered. “What about the out-of-control budget deficit for which he was responsible?… What about the racism that exists within Israeli society?… What will he do?”

Gal-on’s statement added, “I fear that the election of the moderate Rowhani is not just a blow to the extremists in Tehran, but also to the extremist leadership in Israel, which will now have to replace intimidation with actions.”

Similarly, following the official election results, Yedioth commentator Yigal Sarna penned a piece entitled, “A New Devil,” in which he satirically lamented, ”Oh Hassan Rouhani, you moderate, who invited you? What did you have to come for? What are we going to do without the scarecrow, the fanatic Ahmadinejad?”  He continued,

What will we do without our Persian Hitler? What will Bibi draw at the UN? At whom will (Defense Minister Yaalon) storm and to whom will he send our smart bombs and how will Bibi distract people from the plundering here? How will we continue to talk about being the ‘villa in the jungle’ when the villa is filled with jungle and the jungle is filled with protest? What are we going to wave away when Danny Danons shake off every peace plan and lead us to international isolation?

“We need to return to the reality and quickly find a new devil,” Sarna concluded.

And we will. Because we need to.

In fact, AIPAC operatives and acolytesregime change enthusiasts, Beltway hacks, and Israeli commentators have wasted no time at all.

About Nima Shirazi

Nima Shirazi is co-editor of the Iran, Iraq and Turkey pages for the online magazine Muftah. His political analysis can be found on his blog, WideAsleepinAmerica.com, where this post first appeared. Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima.
Posted in Iran, Israel Lobby, Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Middle East, US Policy in the Middle East | Tagged

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  1. Citizen says:

    Very excellent article, Mr. Shirazi. Astute and well-written, concise. We will watch how the Israel First crowd in US and Israeli leaders handle this new Hitler bugaboo.

    • Hostage says:

      Very excellent article, Mr. Shirazi. Astute and well-written, concise. We will watch how the Israel First crowd in US and Israeli leaders handle this new Hitler bugaboo.

      Your wait is over: They’ve resurrected the old allegations in the Argentine bombing case. A judge there issued an arrest warrant for Rouhani and all of the other members of the Iranian Supreme National Council. The judge was subsequently dismissed for judicial misconduct, including bribing defendants, and Interpol canceled the red notices that he had issued. There’s a 600+ page report on the request for arrest warrants. The charge against Rouhani is mentioned on page 179. It cites testimony before the Tribunal Oral en lo Criminal Federal No. 3: link to peaceandtolerance.org

      The story is covered in a report by a Commentary/Washington Free Beacon contributor, Alana Goodman: New Iranian President Tied to 1994 Bombing
      85 were killed in bombing of Argentinian Jewish Center link to freebeacon.com

      Naturally it has been picked-up by the Israeli media echo chamber: Report: Rohani involved in 1994 Buenos Aires bombing link to ynetnews.com

      So they can once again run around shreying that the Iranian President is guilty of genocide against the Jewish people if they are so inclined. Everything old is new again.

  2. seafoid says:

    Israeli intelligence is a total joke.
    They were sure a fundi would win. They back al Qaeda in Syria. And they think YESHA is forever.

  3. Nevada Ned says:

    Thanks, Nima Shirazi, for this insightful article.

    Undoubtedly the new Iranian President will not be as easily targeted as Ahmadinejad.

    But will the US completely stop sanctions against Iran?

    Not a chance.

    Iran used to be a US colony, under the Shah. They had a revolution and kicked out the Shah.
    The US wants to punish the Iranians for having an anti-US revolution. The US goal is to regain US control of Iran and the oil of the Persian Gulf.

    Bear in mind that the US has had economic blockade against Cuba for a half century now, with no signs of bringing the blockade to an end. The reason? Cuba used to be a US colony, but had a revolution. The US empire is fighting against any more countries leaving the US empire. (E.g., Venezuela).

    US sanctions against Iran will continue.

    • seafoid says:

      Sanctions mean Iran has more oil today than it would have had otherwise had it been able to sell it.

      • ritzl says:

        And at a higher price, so they will have either more revenue to pursue their highly alleged weapons activities, or the same revenue with more in the ground to extend said alleged weapons activities.

        Either way the sanctions are completely stupid and counter-productive, if you’re a US or Israeli policy maker in these areas.

        The Iranian GDP has actually increased substantially since sanctions went into effect. Almost all related to the artificial increase in the price of their oil even though they are producing less. Then there’s also the hit on the US economy due to the increase in oil prices.

        Hmm…sanctions an economic wash Iran and hurting US. Why are we doing this again?

    • rensanceman says:

      “The U.S. goal is to regain control of Iran and the oil of the Persian Gulf”. This goal is part of the equation, but I would also add the Zionist goal of ridding the region of any state which is antagonistic to its regime. Further I do believe that the luminaries of the neocon world (e.g. Perle,Feith,Wolfowitz) advised Netanyahu–in the Clean Break policy paper later incorporated into Policy for a New American Century) that Iran was only one of several countries that should be targeted. The others: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia. The first three have been engaged; the others are still targets.

      • Citizen says:

        @ rensanceman
        Your binoculars are right on target, the PNAC macro strategy to preserve and enhance Israeli hegemony, which is involved, is the operative one. It’s been so before 9/11, and was jump-started by 9/11, and goes on with PEP partnership by the Obamaites.

  4. what a great article and a pleasure to read.

    Netanyahu also noted that the Iranian president wields no real power in Iran, a concept unmentioned throughout the Ahmadinejad era. “It’s the same Iran,” an Israeli government statement read.

    honestly i have not finished it yet but i just had to stop and say…i love the simplicity of logic, it’s so uncomplicated, such an easy read, and excellent embeds and the ravid blockquote! ok, back tot he article. what a winner Nima, we’re so lucky.

    • Citizen says:

      Yep. It’s really a good article, a keeper.

    • Shingo says:

      I thought the same thing Annie, when I saw a report on the news which featured Bibi saying that it doesn’t matter who the president is because it’s the Supreme Leader who sets foreign policy.

      When Khatami, the reformist, was president, the anti Iran hawks said the same thing. Then when Ahmadinejad was elected, Kahmeni’s name was never mentioned. Now that another moderate has been elected, they’ve resorted to insisting he has no power.

      But whatI find most reassuring is the cynicism about the Iran boogie man kabuki dance in Israel.

  5. First to state the obvious- Israel’s desire that Iran never develop nuclear capacity is understandable, even by those who hate Israel and also by those who like Israel. The chances of stopping Iran’s development of that capacity is dependent on the US sanctions against Iran and Ahmadinejad’s term limits and the election of Rouhani may lead to the lessening of the pressure on Iran. (My own opinion is that Iran will develop a nuke or the capacity and that no amount of pressure on Iran will ultimately make the difference, but nonetheless optimists regarding the efficacy of sanctions disagree with me.)

    Second- this sentence by Nima Shirazi raises questions regarding his honesty:
    “Without a cartoonish scapegoat like the one the Western media made out of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad through their mistranslations and misinformation, Iran might not look so bombable.” Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier. That is not due to mistranslations and misinformation. And if Nima Shirazi denies that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier, then he should come out and say it, rather than merely hint at it.

    • Shingo says:

      First to state the obvious- Israel’s desire that Iran never develop nuclear capacity is understandable

      And a complete sideshow, seeing as all 16 US intelligence agencies and the Mossad agree Iran is not producing nukes, nor even decided to.

      The chances of stopping Iran’s development of that capacity is dependent on the US sanctions against Iran and Ahmadinejad’s term limits and the election of Rouhani may lead to the lessening of the pressure on Iran.

      Absolute rubbish. The purpose of the sanctions has NOTHING to do with stopping Iran’s development. As I said, all 16 US intelligence agencies and the Mossad agree Iran is not producing nukes, nor even decided to, so the sanctions are pointless, but purely political.

      My own opinion is that Iran will develop a nuke or the capacity and that no amount of pressure on Iran will ultimately make the difference, but nonetheless optimists regarding the efficacy of sanctions disagree with me.

      As they say about opinions and a certain part of everyone’s anatomy….and there has never been any efficacy for sanctions.

      Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier.

      Strictly speaking, he has never denied the Holocaust. In fact, he gave a speech at the UN arguing that the Holocaust was used to justify Israel’s creation. But either way, one would have to be truly insane to suggest that Holocaust denial should be justification for sanctions, let alone war.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “Israel’s desire that Iran never develop nuclear capacity is understandable”

      Well, israel’s desire is understandable, because it wants a free hand to kill and oppress with impunity, as it seeks to be regional hegemon for its racist ideology. What is not understandable or desireable is to have a racist state like israel having the power to do that.

      “Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier.”

      So what? Just because he believes something foolish, that means that the israelis have a right to bomb and murder Iranians?

      • Yitzgood says:

        Just because he believes something foolish, that means that the israelis have a right to bomb and murder Iranians?

        Holocaust denial is, among other things, a vast and paranoid conspiracy theory. Islamic Republic News Agency (who also provided the English translation), gave the following account of Ahmadinejad’s “Quds Day” remarks last August as follows:

        The Iranian President further described the World Quds Day as an occasion for the unity of all human communities to wipe out this scarlet letter, meaning the Zionist regime, from the forehead of humanity and said this corrupted minority is opposing all divine values in a well-organized and thorough manner.

        He said Zionists, who think solely of power, wealth and dominance over others, have been inflicting very heavy damage and suffering on the whole humanity for over two thousand years especially during the past four centuries.

        Material as crazy as the above appears regularly in the Iranian state-controlled press without any particular mention of Ahmadinejad, and everything is thoughtfully translated by the News Agencies themselves. I don’t have all the answers, but it could well be that extreme measures are warranted to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Mullahs. Life isn’t Mondoweiss.

        • Citizen says:

          I don’t have all the answers either, but some of us are much more worried about nuclear weapons in the hands of Israeli Zionists than we are about such weapons in the hands of the Mullahs. Jewish History isn’t World History.

        • Cliff says:

          And life isn’t the fear-mongering MSM.

          In fact, life is closer to the way Mondoweiss reports on.

          Those supposed crazy and antisemitic mullahs in Iran have not initiated a war in 200 hundred years.

          The Iranian opposition to Israel is not based on antisemitism. Iran is opposed to the US-Israel hegemony in the ME. A free ME would mean opposition to Zionism and the US since both undermine the freedom of the surrounding countries in the region.

          If Iran were to use nukes on Israel in an offensive attack it would immediately be wiped out after by the US.

          Not to mention all those Palestinians who would die too.

          There is no evidence to support the notion that Iran would nuke Israel because of antisemitism and whatever worthless cartoony pro-Israel perception of the world you have dictates.

          As if the Iranian mullahs care nothing for their own people. Because they would be damning them.

          Israel in action, kills innocent people and steals from them and colonizes their land.

          Israel, far more than Iran, deserves military intervention so that an international task force can protect the Palestinians from Zionist thieves and murderers.

        • eljay says:

          >> Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier.

          Zio-supremacists – particularly those in positions of power in the supremacist “Jewish State” – are Nakba deniers even as they continue to oppress, steal, colonize, destroy, torture, hate and kill.

          Clearly, the supremacist “Jewish State” must be stripped of its nukes.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Holocaust denial is, among other things, a vast and paranoid conspiracy theory.”

          It can be, sure. But it’s not inherently that. Many people use the label to describe disagreements with historical facts or even disagreements as to how the events of 1933-1945 should be presented. (Indeed, I remember someone calling Snyder’s “Bloodlands” a form of Holocaust denial because he didn’t treat it in the manner the critic demanded.)

          So let’s not pretend that the worst of all those who are given this label applies to everyone who is given this label. And it is clear that Achmedenejad’s statements were primarily rhetorical. He is attempting to undercut the use of the Holocaust as a reason to support a claim of legitimacy by israel, as a way of supporting the right of the people of Palestine to their land. And in that respect, he has a point. The fact that Germans murdered Jews doesn’t give Jews the right to steal from Palestinians.

          “Material as crazy as the above appears regularly in the Iranian state-controlled press without any particular mention of Ahmadinejad, and everything is thoughtfully translated by the News Agencies themselves.”

          And material crazier than that is bandied about by israeli officials and its supporters to this day: that the land was given to the Jews by God; that they “made the desert bloom”; that it was a land without people for a people without land; that there is no such thing as the Palestinian people; that the future of Palestine lies in Jordan; that whichever European/American Acts of Imperialism (take your pick: Sykes/Picot, San Remo, UN Partition, Balfour) “gave” the land of Palestine to the Jews of the world, etc., etc., etc.

          But beyond that, so what? The Iranians saying crazy things doesn’t give the Israelis the right to bomb the Iranian people.

          “I don’t have all the answers, but it could well be that extreme measures are warranted to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Mullahs.”

          It depends on who’s interests you’re talking about. But it does demonstrate a bit of gall for a cheerleader of israel — a nuclear state which has, in the last 70-ish years, attacked every state it borders, often repeatedly — to say that we need to worry some other country aquiring the same weapon which israel wields. I wish for no state to have these weapons. But if israel does, then Iran acquiring it very well may be the most reasonable step for it to take; it’s already seen how israel’s supporter, the US, deals with “Axis of Evil” states which don’t have nukes (Saddam’s Iraq) and those who do (Kim’s North Korea).

        • Yitzgood says:

          And life isn’t the fear-mongering MSM . . . There is no evidence to support the notion that Iran would nuke Israel because of antisemitism and whatever worthless cartoony pro-Israel perception of the world you have dictates.

          A Fars News headline in English from last May read “”Top Commander Reiterates Iran’s Commitment to Full Annihilation of Israel.” The link even still works: link to english.farsnews.com

          What do you suggest I make of that? In the passage I quoted earlier, what did Ahmadinejad mean by saying that “Zionists” “have been inflicting very heavy damage and suffering on the whole humanity for over two thousand years”?

        • Yitzgood says:

          “Holocaust denial is, among other things, a vast and paranoid conspiracy theory.”

          It can be, sure. But it’s not inherently that. Many people use the label to describe disagreements with historical facts or even disagreements as to how the events of 1933-1945 should be presented.

          I’m talking about what it means to assert that the Holocaust is a fraud or a hoax. It requires the idea that someone exerts powerful control over what people believe. Holocaust deniers are constantly posing as skeptics, people who just have questions or who want more research, etc., but Ahmadinejad is like other hard-core Holocaust deniers: he only engages in this sort of posturing some of the time. Examples of outright denial are not hard to find in the large body of pronouncements he has made about the Holocaust. And this is besides the fact that, for example, Arthur Butz has appeared in Mehr News, recapping the argument of his book “The Hoax of the 20th Century.”

        • Cliff says:

          Thats a lie. He said Zionist regime and that quote is in the article.

          Additionally the article says that he supports the Palestinians and their cause and fight against oppression.

          Do you think he supports nuking Israel? Would that not subject millions of Palestinians to radiation and suffering and death?

          If he supports destroying the Zionist regime, then I would say that is reasonable. Of course Palestinians under occupation and colonialism would like to destroy the Israeli regime as well. Do you think they want themselves nuked in the process?

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          Yitzgood: again, so the hell what? Yes, he espouses nonsense for rhetorical and propaganda purposes for use against the state that has been threatening for years to attack his state. Even if he actually believed it — even if he exemplified the absolute worst that you believe a Holocaust denier could be — that still is no reason for israel to attack or threaten to attack the Iranian people.

        • Hostage says:

          A Fars News headline in English from last May read “”Top Commander Reiterates Iran’s Commitment to Full Annihilation of Israel.” . . . What do you suggest I make of that?

          You’ve already made the most out of it that you can. The article itself explains that he was only talking about the Zionist government: “the Iranian nation will remain committed to the full annihilation of the Zionist regime of Israel to the end.”

          In the passage I quoted earlier, what did Ahmadinejad mean

          Maybe you haven’t heard, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is just an ordinary citizen who has been summoned to criminal court: link to guardian.co.uk

        • Yitzgood says:

          You’ve already made the most out of it that you can. The article itself explains that he was only talking about the Zionist government: “the Iranian nation will remain committed to the full annihilation of the Zionist regime of Israel to the end.”

          That’s not an explanation–that’s the statement the article title refers to. “Zionist regime,” “Zionist entity,” “fake regime,” and sometimes “Israel” (with or without scare quotes) are used interchangeably in the Iranian press. They do mean the government, but they don’t differentiate between the “regime” and ordinary Jewish Israelis. Israel is a “fake regime” with an usurper population. But just to move on, let’s say the Iranians are talking about a change in government, which, among other things, they are. That doesn’t mean the word “annihilate” doesn’t obviously refer to achieving something violently.

          Maybe you haven’t heard, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is just an ordinary citizen who has been summoned to criminal court

          It doesn’t surprise me, but he has been the leading spokesman for Khomeinism for some time. I suspect it will take some time before Rowhani’s opinions replace A’s as a subject for debate here. And you didn’t answer the question.

        • Cliff says:

          Yes, they mean the regime.

          I’d like you to prove that they mean all Jewish Israelis.

          And once again, prove that they want to nuke Israel and accept all those dead Palestinians as collateral damage. Oh and prove they are willing to do this accept the immediate annihilation of their own country by the US.

        • Yitzgood says:

          And once again, prove that they want to nuke Israel and accept all those dead Palestinians as collateral damage. Oh and prove they are willing to do this accept the immediate annihilation of their own country by the US.

          I never said I’m convinced they “want to nuke Israel and accept all those dead Palestinians as collateral damage.” I think they are committed to using violent means to end Jewish self-rule there and that their notion of the “Zionist regime” does not involve a normal distinction between a government and a people. Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei tried to make that distinction and got in great deal of hot water with the Supreme Leader. I think nuclear arms would obviously help their ambitions a great deal. A direct nuclear strike by Iran may not be the most likely possibility, but there are other possibilities, some of them also horrible. Would the US visit total annihilation on a country that used, say, one bomb against a US ally?

        • Shingo says:

          I think they are committed to using violent means to end Jewish self-rule there

          That is clearly false. They want to end Jewish occupation of Palestinian territory, not self rule within Israel. Of course, if you believe Israel is about Jewish self-rule then you can’t believe it is a democracy.

          their notion of the “Zionist regime” does not involve a normal distinction between a government and a people.

          You can believe what you like, but Ahmadinejadhas clearlty stated that his comments draw parallels to the USSR, which was about overthrowing Communism, not destroying Russians.

          It just goes to show the hypocrisy of pro Israeli propagandists. They speak arbitrarily about regime change here and there, but anyone who even hints at the like with regards to Israel wants to kill Jews.

          Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei tried to make that distinction and got in great deal of hot water with the Supreme Leader.

          No he didn’t and neither did Ahmadinejad.

        • Shingo says:

          Examples of outright denial are not hard to find in the large body of pronouncements he has made about the Holocaust.

          Such as?

        • Shingo says:

          What do you suggest I make of that?

          The same you would make of an Israeli minister who threatens to unleash a Shoah on Gaza, or when the leader of Shas calls for the “annihilat­ion of Arabs”.

        • Cliff says:

          Jewish self-rule as you say Yitz, encompasses denying self-rule to Palestinians and stealing from Palestinians and colonizing Palestinian land.

          Thats the truth and in that truth, Jewish self-rule should end.

        • American says:

          “”I think they are committed to using violent means to end Jewish self-rule there and that their notion of the “Zionist regime” does not involve a normal distinction between a government and a people. “”..Yitzgood

          Zionist used violence, and still do, to establish their ‘rule’ and steal from Palestine…soooo why shouldnt violence be used on them in return?
          Whatever violence is commited on Israel they brought on themselves.

        • Yitzgood says:

          Such as?

          There is the speech covered in this Juan Cole post:

          link to juancole.com

          Cole writes:

          But the venomous rhetoric against Jews (it isn’t just Zionists if it is projected back 500 years) that he used in this speech is so hateful that if it became widespread and ensconced in Iranian society, it certainly would have bad and tragic results– for Jews, Iranians and for us human beings in general.

          Cole is arguing that it hasn’t become “ensconced,” but news sites such as Fars News, PressTV, IRNA, Mehr News suggest otherwise. I don’t think Ahmadinejad particularly stands out from the other Khomeinists. Larijani has referred to the Elders of Zion, for instance.

        • Yitzgood says:

          You can believe what you like, but Ahmadinejadhas clearlty stated that his comments draw parallels to the USSR, which was about overthrowing Communism, not destroying Russians.

          I thought about mentioning this myself since I regard it as a telling whitewash. Khomeinist beliefs about Israel clearly do involve the idea that the wrong ethnic group is running the country while Communism is a political system.

        • Yitzgood says:

          They speak arbitrarily about regime change here and there, but anyone who even hints at the like with regards to Israel wants to kill Jews.

          Forcing “regime change” on a country does involve a great deal of death and destruction. (That’s an odd thing for a Republican to have to point out to a Lefty.) In a glorious resistance military campaign to force “regime change” on the Zionist entity, the enemy would be a whole lot of Jews, no? Military “success” would involve killing Jews in large numbers. Isn’t that obvious?

        • Shingo says:

          Cole is arguing that it hasn’t become “ensconced,” but news sites such as Fars News, PressTV, IRNA, Mehr News suggest otherwise.

          Suggest what and how exactly Yitz? There’s a saying, either put up or get off the crapper.

          Stop wasting time and trolling with your vague assertions that you subsequently refuse to demonstrate with evidence. Either put up or shut up.

        • Shingo says:

          I thought about mentioning this myself since I regard it as a telling whitewash. Khomeinist beliefs about Israel clearly do involve the idea that the wrong ethnic group is running the country while Communism is a political system.

          Don’t be stupid. The country of Israel is none of Iran’s concern. They are referring to the OT and Jeeusalem – neither if which belong to Israel.

          It’s time you have up trolling .

        • Shingo says:

          Forcing “regime change” on a country does involve a great deal of death and destruction. (That’s an odd thing for a Republican to have to point out to a Lefty.)

          No it doesn’t – see USSR and Tehran 1979 – both if which were comparatively non violent.

          Military “success” would involve killing Jews in large numbers. Isn’t that obvious?

          If you’re so opposed to military success to achieve political objectives, then you must be ideologically opposed to Israel’s existence – unless of course, your just a shameless hypocrite.

      • Woody- Holocaust denial is not a crime for which Ahmadinejad and Iran deserve to be bombed. But to infer that anything that the world holds against Ahmedinejad was based on mistranslations and misinformation was disinformation.

        And Shingo- Do you really question whether Ahmadinejad is/was a Holocaust denier?

        • seafoid says:

          Even if he is a Holocaust denier, do the people of Iran deserve this

          link to nybooks.com

          “At a bridge leading into the town of Muwaffaqiyah, Fick’s unit is ambushed on three sides, and a sergeant, shot in the foot, begins to bleed profusely. The Marines then open up on their attackers, killing some and causing the rest to flee. Pulling back a couple of kilometers, the Marines again complain about the reckless way in which they’ve been deployed. Meanwhile, they watch as artillery batteries pummel Muwaffaqiyah. Exploding DPICM shells scatter lethal clusters over wide areas. A-10 fighter jets belch out deafening machine-gun fire. Cobra helicopters, low-flying and menacing, launch rockets and grenades. When the platoon is finally able to enter the town, they see that large sections of it have been leveled. On the rooftops are an undetermined number of bodies—victims of the shrapnel from the cluster rounds. “We had one guy shot in the foot, and we blew up their whole town,” a Marine tells Wright.”
          Entering the city with the Marines, Wright gets to see just how devastating the impact has been. Smoke curls from collapsed structures, and houses facing the road are pockmarked and cratered. The corpses of Iraqi attackers are scattered on the road leading out of the city. Run over repeatedly by tracked vehicles, “they are flattened, with their entrails squished out.”

          Israel always wants the same thing- regional hegemony. Why should the bots determine the future of the region?

        • Cliff says:

          So what? Israeli leaders allied with Nazi youth members and Holocaust deniers.

          Israel supported genocidal dictatorships when the US couldn’t do so openly.

          Why does it matter that so and so is a Holocaust denier? Because he’s simply not a Holocaust denier in the employ of Israel and/or the US?

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Woody- Holocaust denial is not a crime for which Ahmadinejad and Iran deserve to be bombed.”

          Well, it’s nice that you are at least granting them the right not to be bombed. How kind of you.

          “But to infer that anything that the world holds against Ahmedinejad was based on mistranslations and misinformation was disinformation.”

          It’s not about what “the world” holds against Ahmedinejad, it’s about the “cartoonish scapegoat like the one the Western media made out of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad” which is at issue. And that definately was done, in part, through mistranslations, misinformation, and outright lies.

          Some of what “the world” (interesting that you seem to believe that only those who are in league with the israelis and the US on the Iran issue are part of “the world.” What are the others, from Mars?) believes about Ahmadinejad is legitimate, but only someone who is interested in spreading disinformation would deny that he has been subject to enormous amounts misinformation and mistraslation, accompanied by extensive demonization, distortions and lies, all bent on furthering the position of the US and israel. And I say this as someone who disfavors him and the current Iranian government.

  6. W.Jones says:

    Congratulations on the moderate’s victory.

  7. Obsidian says:

    First day on the job and he announces that, ‘Sanctions only benefit Israel’.

    Just who is looking for a devil? Israel or Rouhani?

    • Shingo says:

      First day on the job and he announces that, ‘Sanctions only benefit Israel’.

      Nice try but fail. Even before his first day on the job, Bibbi was calling for the world to resist diplomacy and apply more pressure.

      As for Rouhani’s statement, I’d call that an excellent first day – albeit a statement of the obvious.

  8. shachalnur says:

    “Rouhani” in Hebrew is “spiritual”.

    You can’t make a thing like that up.

    • Shmuel says:

      “Rouhani” in Hebrew is “spiritual”.

      In Persian too.

      You can’t make a thing like that up.

      Apparently you can and, according to Wiki (yes, yes, I know), that’s exactly what the Iranian president-elect did:

      born Hassan Feridon … It is not clear when he officially changed his last name to Rouhani, which means “spiritual” or “cleric.”

      • MHughes976 says:

        I think that one of the tests used to date Hebrew Bible books is the presence of Persian loan words, supposed to have been in plentiful supply in the post-Cyrus era. Is this a case in point? If so, who loaned and who borrowed?

        • Shmuel says:

          I think that one of the tests used to date Hebrew Bible books is the presence of Persian loan words…. Is this a case in point? If so, who loaned and who borrowed?

          No, RWḤ is definitely a Hebrew root (e.g. in the second verse of Genesis). Especially considering the religious/Islamic context, I presume it got to Persian through the Arabic cognate.

      • bintbiba says:

        ‘Rouhani’ also in Arabic. ‘Rouh’ means spirit…’rouhani’ spiritual.

        • ToivoS says:

          My understanding is that Farsi is derived from Aramaic. Isn’t that one of the early languages that the early bible was written? Also about 2000 – 2500 years ago isn’t that the language used by many Jews and Christians. Hebrew was already a dead language at that time. It seems that Roman, Greek and Aramaic were the live languages during that period. It should not be at all surprising when Arabic penetrated those areas that today the surviving languages would share many words.

        • homingpigeon says:

          Actually Farsi is not Semitic language. Those would be Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Amharic, and Tigrinia. It’s from the Aryan family which also spawned the Germanic languages. However it contains a vast Arabic vocabulary – mainly abstract, philosophical, and religious words which only came in after the Islamic conquests. From time to time anti-religious or Persian purists make a point of trying to use only Persian words.

      • “In Persian too.”
        Yes, Shmuel. “Borrowed” from Arabic which, Shachalnur, explains the similitude in Hebrew.

    • Darcha says:

      By a complete linguistic accident, ‘rouhání’ means ‘blasphemy’ in Czech. Go figure.

  9. mijj says:

    > Steinitz: “Despite all the different circumstances, we see similarities to what happened in the 1930s, when people underestimated the real problem or focused on other dangers.”

    I think he means Israel.

  10. Taxi says:

    Brilliant article. Immense insight, wit, wisdom and history. Thank you Nima Shirazi.

    And speaking of israeli idiotic intelligence, you forgot to also mention how bibi and his masadist-mossadist-gangbangers thought Romney would win the 2012 elections and publicly supported his candidacy. Israel doesn’t understand the American people either, it seems. How can they know or understand anybody: zionists being the pathological paranoid narcissists that they are.

    “What will we do without our Persian Hitler? What will Bibi draw at the UN?”
    LOL!

  11. Shingo says:

    A typically brilliant piece Nima.

  12. Tuyzentfloot says:

    So how will the roleplay play out? I suppose it’s obligatory to be pleasantly surprised and hopeful and full of goodwill, but skeptical at Rouhani’s election. This should then be followed by a certain eagerness to conclude after a while that either Rouhani wasn’t the nice guy he appeared to be, or he was the best of the lot but obviously didn’t make much difference.

    So let’s look what David Sanger makes from it (disclosure: I don’t like Sanger, but I sorta know he’s going to deliver)
    link to nytimes.com

    From the start of the article:

    Hassan Rowhani, a former nuclear negotiator who is considered a moderate compared with the other candidates, was greeted by some administration officials as the best of all likely outcomes, they said it did not change the fact that only the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, would make the final decision about any concessions to the West.

    Even so, they said they wanted to test Mr. Rowhani quickly, noting that although he argued for a moderate tone in dealing with the United States and its allies when he was a negotiator, he also boasted in 2006 that Iran had used a previous suspension of nuclear enrichment to make major strides in building its nuclear infrastructure.

    That’s plan one and two, at the start of the article. I really should do a decent job and read the whole article now but I’m feeling too smug now.

    In any case, Rouhani must have noticed the same things from that unilateral suspension of nuclear enrichment than Ahmadinejad: the West became more aggressive, not less, and the initiative made him impopular in his own country as well.

    I don’t see how the west will change course. As for the IAEA , I’d like to get the chance to point out to Yukiya Amano from that judging from the NIE and James Clapper’s comments the IAEA must appear a bit overzealous in the eyes of the National Intelligence crowd.

  13. Les says:

    The real fun will be watching how our media in its historic role as Israel’s mouthpiece will respond.

    • seafoid says:

      Job announcement

      Due to an unexpected election result a vacancy has arisen for the role of Hitler in our Weltanschauung.

      The ideal candidate will be Muslim and have a beard and look very shifty. Holocaust deniers will be given extra points. Those mentioning the instability of the Israeli system are particularly welcome.

      The job brings a range of benefits including 24/7 publicity on the hasbara network and a special eternal damnation from the Sephardic and Ashkenazi chief rabbinates.

      • Sibiriak says:

        seafoid:

        Job announcement

        Due to an unexpected election result a vacancy has arisen for the role of Hitler in our Weltanschauung. ETC.

        Hilarious!!

    • Citizen says:

      Rachel Maddow did a segment on Iran’s new president. She pointed out that of the eight candidates, only one was a moderate, and he won with 51% of the total vote, and that was a good thing. But, she also pointed out that the president slot did not make any key governmental decisions–something I never heard her say when talking about the former Iranian president. She showed a clip where somebody asked a question of the new president in the TV public eye, commenting that had never been done before. The question was something like, Are you going to talk with the Americans? He answered the Iran-USA relationship was a complicated one.

  14. Mayhem says:

    The election of a supposedly moderate president of Iran is hardly exciting. One only has to hark back to the days of Mohammad Khatami to see that nothing much changed in Iran when he was president. The Iranian clerics are the real rulers of this brutal regime. According to the Iranian political system, the president is outranked by the Supreme Leader. Rouhani therefore has no legal authority over key state institutions: the armed forces, the police, the army, the revolutionary guards, the state radio and television, the prisons, etc.The fact that Rouhani was endorsed by Iran’s leadership only goes to show that Iran is aiming to put a moderate stooge out there in front of the cameras to give naive observers the impression that reforms are happening. It is a mere ploy – a cynical attempt to distract from Iran’s hard-line political position.

    • Shingo says:

      One only has to hark back to the days of Mohammad Khatami to see that nothing much changed in Iran when he was president.

      Only if you ignore the grand bargain that Iran offered Washington – to normalize relations, cut ties with Hezbollah, put it’s nuclear program on the table and even play nice with Israel. The offer that Washington rejected yes.

      Apart from that, it was business as usual.

      Rouhani therefore has no legal authority over key state institutions: the armed forces, the police, the army, the revolutionary guards, the state radio and television, the prisons, etc.

      Funny how you are your tribe went to great lengths to pretend otherwise with Ahmadinejad had the job.

      The fact that Rouhani was endorsed by Iran’s leadership only goes to show that Iran is aiming to put a moderate stooge out there in front of the cameras to give naive observers the impression that reforms are happening.

      So what was he trying to trick naive observers into believing when he hand picked his right wing stooge?

      You people are a joke.

    • lysias says:

      It was while Khatami was president of Iran that Iran made the grand bargain offer to the U.S. that the Cheney administration summarily rejected.

      No wonder that Ahmedinejad was elected shortly after that.

  15. ToivoS says:

    I do appreciate this Nima Shirazi. You have often come up with some good analyses.

    One thing is clear that Iranian foreign policy is not going to change. The big difference is that the President of Iran will no longer deny the reality of the holocaust. Purely symbolic to be sure but an issue that riles up Israel and the US public to convince them that war is the only solution. Of course, this ignore the fact that the president before Ahmadijad. Khatahni, was a moderate willing to make compromises with the US. Khatami was willing to suspend U235 enrichment for two years and was willing to help the US in its invasion of Afghanistan. The US responded by declaring Iran an axis of evil. That act resulted in totally discrediting Khatami and led to the election of Ahmadijinad, the populous mayor of Tehran, with his crazed holocaust denial nonsense.

    In any case, Rouhani will not be as provocative as Ahmadijihad

    • Citizen says:

      So, logically, it will be harder to demonize Iran as Rouhani has less of a tin ear. Just putting up an old pic of Hitler next to a pic of the Iranian president, or a cartoon of the Iranian president with a Hitler moustache won’t quite do the trick.

      In a way, now Iran has their smooth Obama, and their cowboy Bush Jr is gone, after what, eight years too?

  16. NickJOCW says:

    Another possibility altogether is that this result may be very much what Obama has been hoping for, providing as it does the chink of an exit from the cul-de-sac in which largely Zionist factors are herding him.

    Whatever gloss the media put on it, Obama’s florid obeisance before Tel Aviv on his long awaited visit was so over the top one could scarcely escape suspecting his fingers to be firmly crossed the while.

    Obama knows how to employ time, which largely means waiting patiently for the moment to strike, meanwhile bending like the bamboo or, less poetically, like Harold Macmillan during the worst moments of the cold war.

    The IP issue on which our attention is focused, like the smallest of a nest of Russian dolls, nestles within the larger issue of Zionist influence in so may levels of the US social and political system, and that itself lies within the larger corruption of a political system open to such influences, and not only from Zionists. Nor is that necessarily the last doll because similar fault lines are visible in a many Western democracies.

    If, six months or so hence, there is a degree of understanding between the US and Iran, and there are many scenarios that might find their way there because everyone, even the most avid hawk, knows Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon program and the whole ‘problem’ is a consciously activated fantasy intended to accommodate purposes no longer quite as practical as heretofore, then one of the Zionist’s chief trumps will be have been finessed and the bought and sold legislature can continue to ply Israel with Iron Domes etc. to the ever increasing frustration of hard pressed US citizens. Meanwhile, back on the farms, distrust for Israel’s behaviour and flaunting of international law will continue to unfold. Well, one can dream.

    • ToivoS says:

      I would like to believe your speculations here turn out to be correct. For them to come to fruition it would require Obama to do one thing that he hasn’t demonstrated the ability to do: that would be to make a dramatic move in his foreign policy that would rile up the neocons, right wing press and the lobby. Quite simply he would have to accept Iran’s right to enriching U235 as fuel for its reactors.

      That would produce a storm.

      • NickJOCW says:

        Less a question perhaps of doing anything so much as allowing some things to happen unimpeded. All ME countries and their citizens, including Iran and Iranians but excepting Israel, favour the positive establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. The Saudis might call a global conference to discuss this with the US abstaining in deference to Israel rather than putting a spanner in it.

  17. gingershot says:

    Great article –

    It really is the ‘same old Iran’ because it is the same old warmongering psychopathic Israelis and Neocons who are trying to set her up.

    It will always be the ‘same old Iran’ and the ‘Palestinians will always be terrorists’ until the supremacist psychopaths in Tel Aviv and Judea and Samaria have fled for greener pastures – or are locked up – once Apartheid has been dismantled