An Iranian Textbook Case
by Yoram Ettinger
Iranian school textbooks, such as The Quran and Life (Grade 12) prepare Iranian children for the ayatollahs’ sublime goal: the apocalyptic, horrifying, millenarian, military battle against the U.S. and other “arrogant oppressors of the world,” which are ostensibly led by “idolatrous devils.” While the “savior” — the infallible, immortal, divinely ordained and eventual global leader, the Mahdi — has not surfaced yet, Iranian children are taught that the battle is already raging throughout the world, waiting for them to make the sacrifice.
In Western democracies, school textbooks reflect the peoples’ values and worldviews. In tyrannical states, school textbooks reflect the nature and goals of the regimes.
Iranian school textbooks reflect the strategy and tactics of the ayatollahs much more authentically than speeches, interviews, diplomatic statements or conversations with President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Rouhani and Zarif have both mastered the art of Quran-sanctioned “taqiyya” — double-talk and deception-based agreements, aimed at shielding the “believers” from the “disbelievers,” to be abrogated once conditions are ripe.
The ayatollahs consider school textbooks to be a critical means of mobilizing the youth and of charting the road map to the final military victory over the infidel U.S. and the West. Hence, school textbooks are crucially relevant to the Congressional debate on “the framework agreement with Iran” and on the clear and present threat posed by a nuclear threshold Iran to vital U.S. interests.
Therefore, it behooves the U.S. Congress — the coequal and codetermining branch of government in the area of national security policy — to conduct a series of hearings and colloquy on the significance of Iran’s school textbooks and on the nature of Iran’s conventional and nuclear threats to U.S. interests. Holding these hearings and colloquy before an agreement is reached in Lausanne would constitute a vitamin, not a poison pill, to a constructive agreement, sparing the world a calamitous nuclear war.
Hebrew University Professor Eldad Pardo, who has researched Iran’s school textbooks over the last 10 years, published a report this month for the Institute of Monitoring Peace and Tolerance in School Education. According to Professor Pardo, “Iran had created a war curriculum to prepare an entire generation for global war, based on Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s vision of collective martyrdom. … The battle between the new Islamic (Iranian) civilization and the evil Western civilization is seen as one between good and evil, and is being waged on a global scale. … The school textbooks prepare the Iranian people for a constant state of emergency, requiring Iranians to foment revolutions throughout the world.”
Pardo documents the apocalyptic theme in Iran’s school textbooks, as underlined by Defense Readiness (Grade 11), praising more than 500,000 school children who were sent to the front lines during the 1980-1988 war against Iraq. According to Robin Wright, author of Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam, these children “led the way, running over minefields to clear the ground for the Iranian ground assault. Wearing white headbands to signify the embracing of death and shouting ‘Shaheed, shaheed’ [‘Martyr, martyr’], they literally blew their way into heaven.”
Apocalyptic regimes are induced, not deterred by mutual assured destruction.
Iranian children are prodded to martyrdom, in defiance of their parents: “The defense of Islam and Muslims is a duty, and does not require parents’ approval (Religious Rulings, Grade 11).” Pardo established that “education to child martyrdom continues during first through 12th grades, with a new emphasis on girl martyrs” (Defense Readiness and Sociology 1, both Grade 11).
The ayatollahs’ apocalyptic, millenarian vision is reinforced by jihad-driven school textbooks: “Alongside the fighting jihad, there is a spiritual ‘greater jihad’ (jehad-e akbar) performed by the fighter-martyrs (Defense Readiness, Grade 11).” Religious Rulings (Grade 11) teaches that the eternal jihad means a battle in accordance with God’s way, in the defense of Muslims and the oppressed. The chapter on “Defense and Jihad” stipulates that a battle could mean killing, massacring, murdering and/or fighting. Children are urged to join a millenarian frenzy of military training and preparations, constant emergency, blind obedience and actual participation in conflicts, at home and abroad.
Iranian children study that in times of need, dissimulation and deceptive peace pacts — even with “ungodly, idolatrous governments” — are proper, but only until such time as the balance of power should change. In fact, we know from Khamenei’s own words, that the nuclear negotiations are predicated on the conclusion of a provisional treaty with an illegitimate [infidel] government, while not forsaking the permanent vision. Khamenei’s conduct is based on the 661 C.E. treaty between Imam Hassan and Caliph Muawiyah, designed only to gain time, building power and gradually undermining rival dynasties, but never genuinely reconciling (Religion and Life, Grade 12).
School textbooks constitute a very accurate detector of the nature, mission and legitimacy/illegitimacy of regimes and their expected use of nuclear capabilities.
While nuclear threshold democratic regimes bolster deterrence and stability, nuclear threshold rogue regimes — especially those guided by apocalyptic, violently intolerant, supremacist, megalomaniacal, non-compliant, deceitful, hate-education vision — intensify chaos, fueling nuclear war.
Reaching a constructive agreement with the ayatollahs should be preconditioned upon a dramatic transformation of their school textbooks, strategy and tactics. On the other hand, reaching an agreement with the ayatollahs, while the current school textbooks, strategy and tactics are in place, would constitute a drastic degree of recklessness, starting the countdown to the first nuclear war.
Congressional pro-activity — reasserting the coequal status of the legislature — can make the difference, denying Iran nuclear capabilities.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.