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September 25, 2013 10:08 am

To the World, Netanyahu is an Extremist and Rouhani is a Moderate

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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President Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Iranian government.

There is a “moderate” world leader who married his cousin when she was only 14, in a country where some in the media do not even know her name. This man’s wife doesn’t participate in open society. His country arrests and abuses people of different religions than the country’s majority. He describes a nearby democracy as “an occupier and usurper government” that “does injustice to the people of the region, and has brought instability to the region, with its warmongering policies.” Under the rule of this new “moderate” leader, his country continues to enrich uranium, and continues to pursue nuclear arms. This man is Hassan Rouhani.

There are approximately 57,100 Google results for a “Hassan Rouhani moderate” search.

Then there is an “extremist” leader whose wife is an educational and career psychologist by profession, and is regularly attacked by the local media for her fashion choices. This leader’s country is tolerant of gays, who hold an annual parade through one of the world’s holiest cities. This country’s parliament is an open body with diverse members who are freely elected. This leader heads the most liberal democracy in the Middle East. This man is Benjamin Netanyahu.

There are a mere 395 Google results for a “Netanyahu moderate” search.

How low are our standards today that the world fawns over Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the idea that he is willing to meet with President Obama?

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Andrea Mitchell on NBC News said:

This is a very, very big deal. I can tell you at the White House and at the highest levels of the State Department, they were watching for this all day. They were looking for these signals in this interview. Because he made it very clear he wants a deal on the nuclear weapons. The president told José Díaz-Balart on Telemundo yesterday he wants to test his seriousness. That is what they are going to be looking for at the UN. There is no formal meeting scheduled, they are not planning one.

But unlike Ahmadinejad, his predecessor, you can very well understand that next week when both of them are at the UN, the same time, the same place, they are going to look for an opportunity to see each other, to perhaps have a real conversation. And they believe that Iran wants this because of the sanctions, because they are crippling the economy, that the time is right but there is a short window to see whether Iran is serious, whether this man with a clerical background can do the deal. I was told by a top State Department official they have been working on the back channel for two years and one of the significant players is the foreign minister Zarif who was the UN Ambassador, and is well known to everyone in this administration.

Rouhani is the head of a rogue state. Nothing has changed with this so-called moderate’s election, as Iran hasn’t halted uranium enrichment, removed enriched uranium from the country, dismantled the Fordo nuclear plant, or even allowed inspectors in. Prime Minister Netanyahu has rightfully described him as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Rouhani is certainly a savvy politician. He has acknowledged exploiting “the intense competition” between Western countries in nuclear negotiations, saying “we can use that competition to our advantage.” At one point, Rouhani described the disagreement between the U.S. and Britain over the issue as “beautiful to see.” In a speech in 2005, Rouhani detailed how Iran had evaded the UN Security Council, playing America’s hard-line position against others, including China and Russia, along with Germany.

Rouhani served as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator under former Iranian presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, at a time when Iran was concealing its clandestine nuclear weapons program from the world. He was known while head of Iran’s National Security Council (1989-2005), as the ‘diplomatic sheikh,’ for the way he handled the drawn-out nuclear negotiations with the E-3 (France, Germany, and Britain) from 2003-5.

When we expect hard line and extremist views from Iran’s leaders, we delude ourselves into seeing someone who is not as overt in his hatred for the West as a “moderate”.

Amazingly, whether it is a left-wing or right-wing government, Israel is always viewed by the media as the problem. Prime Minister Netanyahu is a Public Relations guru – a master of the spoken word – yet Israel is regularly condemned. When Iran’s leaders say something peaceful, the world is thrilled and hopeful. Meanwhile, Iran continues to move forward with its nuclear program.

Google “Netanyahu extremist” and you’ll find approximately 1,960,000 results. Google “Rouhani extremist,” a mere 383,000 results. World governments and the media are warped.

Surely, with the strength and clarity that the Obama Administration has shown in Syria, Israel should have nothing to fear from Iran, right?

Ronn Torossian is a regular contributor to The Algemeiner. Follow him on Twitter @rtorossian5wpr

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