Anti-Semitism in America has, with some notable exceptions, been limited to the laughable fringe—witness the spectacle of “crazy anti-Semitic Elmo” being carted away from Central Park. In Iran, on the other hand, out-to-lunch, looney tunes Jew hatred is the basis for mainstream, respectable socio-political analysis, as revealed in the state-run Fars News Agency:
Iranian First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi condemned Zionists for inciting global drug trade and addiction in a bid to annihilate non-Jewish communities in accordance with Talmudic teachings.Addressing a ceremony on the occasion of the International Day of Drug Abuse here in Tehran on Tuesday, Rahimi stated that prevalence of narcotics and drug-addition throughout the world finds its roots in the wrong teachings of the Zionists’ religious book, Talmud.The Talmud (Hebrew: “instruction, learning”) is a central text of mainstream Judaism in the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history.
Lame doesn’t even begin to describe this kind of “analysis.” Forget for a moment the distilled hatred and bias that must inform this man’s worldview. Think about the collapse of intellectual standards, the absence of logic and rigor, the collective, consensual drift from Planet Earth into the gentle mists and comforting illusions of Planet Nutjob that are required for a serious official in an actual government to say something like this.This is a mindset that can welcome the hanging of gays, the vicious persecution of Bahais, and repeated rapes of student protesters in jail to preserve the “purity” of the Iranian revolution. This man’s mind follows the “logic” of Iranian revolutionary ideology; little problems like plausibility and evidence don’t enter his mind as his thoughts nimbly skip along the lines of the officially-sanctioned worldview. This man doesn’t know he’s gone off the deep end because the whole bureaucratic culture in which he lives and works has completely lost its moorings.That he could make this speech not at some out-of-sight study session in a basement somewhere but in an international meeting before members of the diplomatic corp tells us something more: the regime has cocooned. The authorities in Iran are drunk on their own Kool-Aid; they are so wrapped up in their own head-space that they can no longer perceive just how far they have drifted from solid ground—and they have lost the ability either to speak to or understand others.But this wasn’t just any kind of delusional ideologue riffing about the arcane ramifications of a ruling ideology. This was Jew-hatred, pure, simple, unadorned. And it has become so entrenched, so taken for granted in the world of official Tehran, that a responsible government official could say these things in an international setting with no perception of the damage he was doing to his cause. (Even Hitler was smart enough to tone the persecution down during the 1936 Olympics when the eyes of the world were on Berlin.)One European diplomat who was at this bizarre event spoke for many. The New York Times quotes his reaction:
This was definitely one of the worst speeches I have heard in my life. My gut reaction was: why are we supporting any cooperation with these people?
The response from the UN Secretary General’s office was, to put it mildly, inadequate:
The secretary general has on many occasions called on Iranian officials to refrain from these kinds of anti-Semitic statements. He does so again in response to these latest reported comments. He believes it is the responsibility of leaders to promote harmony and understanding and he deeply regrets expressions of hatred and religious intolerance.
The Secretary General has given up on the idea that the Iranians can be freed of their paranoia and their Jew hatred. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be convinced, they cannot be cured, the UN’s top gun seems to think. But perhaps they can still be house trained, hopes the Sec Gen, and if properly instructed they will behave properly in front of the company. Decorum if not decency can be preserved.The Secretary General’s hopes, alas, are foredoomed. This is a regime that will not be trained, will not be polite, will not shut up. Mixed with its Jew-hatred is another form of delusion: the belief that Iran is at the center of the world, that no one dares to defy it, that the power of its oil and the power of its truth are such that the rest of the world must finally give way.We all overstate our importance to the world. Americans exaggerate the importance of our principles to other people; the British and the French continue to think they matter much more than most people around the world think they do. The Greeks thought—some of them may still think—that the euro cannot survive without them and that therefore they can lay down the law to Brussels.Unfortunately, the Iranians seem to have fallen victim to a virulent and quite possibly fatal form of this plague. With the exception of some delicate hand-flutterings meant more to distract than to inform, every serious message this government sends is one of defiance and resolution. They believe that President Obama will not fight, and that without him, Israel will not or cannot. They believe that the world cannot survive without Iran’s precious oil (much as the equally delusional Thomas Jefferson believed that Britain and France could not survive without American trade when he proclaimed his embargo).This, from all indications, is their view of the world, and at present they do not seem able to grasp the possibility that they are wrong. If so, that means the current diplomatic dance will end in war—unless of course the Iranians are right about the political calculus and a mix of weakness and irresolution leads the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel to capitulate and to decide to live with an Iranian bomb.If that fateful concession is made (and, to repeat, Via Meadia does not want a war with Iran), Iran’s overbearing confidence will only grow—and its hatred of Jews will not diminish. Consider this AP report from yesterday detailing how Iran conducts itself without a bomb:
Officials in Kenya say that two Iranian agents arrested with explosives planned to attack Israeli, American, British or Saudi Arabian targets inside Kenya.The officials said Monday that the plot appears to fit into a global pattern of attacks or attempted attacks by Iranian agents, mostly against Israeli interests.
This is how bold they are without a nuclear shield, confronted by a global coalition. How would their behavior change with a stunning diplomatic victory—and a bomb?A diplomatic victory over a weak west ending with a mix of medium range missiles and an Iranian nuclear weapon will not be taken as a sign from God to kick back and relax. It will be proof that Iran is as invulnerable and irresistible as it dreamed. It will be proof that the hardliners and the aggressive, cutting-edge thinkers are right, and that the timid, stick-in-the-mud, play-it-safe types are wrong.A nuclear Iran will be more confident than ever that it carries a unique divine blessing, more sure than before that a weak west cannot afford to deny its demands, more inclined than ever to let its worst and deepest impulses run free as it seeks to remake the Middle East in the image of the enchanting visions that haunt its dreams. And it will believe, more than ever, in Jew-hatred and in a divine mandate to continue the fight against the Talmud and all the evils the Jews seek to foist on the world. The victory of a non-nuclear Iran against a world coalition will be seen as such clear evidence of divine favor and strength that the new nuclear Iran will feel called to play for much higher stakes.You cannot, Franklin D. Roosevelt told the American people when he was describing the Axis powers in one of his fireside chats, turn a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.He was, alas, correct. Iran is not a kitty and it doesn’t want to play nice.[Photo illustration by Via Meadia from originals by Shutterstock and MJ/TR under Creative Commons license]