Black and White and Read in Farsi
In 1978, the revolution inspired by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was brewing in Iran. The goal was to topple Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and replace his pro-Western autocratic regime with a mullah-led theocracy. During this period, in the lead-up to the return of Khomeini from 14 years in exile, the administration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter was in the process of abandoning the shah, a long-time American ally, and seeking the political and moral justification for doing so.
The last part was a piece of cake.
Surrounded by radical “Iran experts” assuring him that Khomeini was practically a saint — a wise old religious leader, lacking in political ambitions, whose clout was solely spiritual — Carter was able to sleep soundly at night, even when his embassy staff in Tehran were taken hostage the first time. Yes, there was a “first time,” in February 1979, two weeks after Khomeini’s return to Iran, and nine months before the famous, full-blown hostage crisis that lasted 444 days.
At the time, renowned Orientalist Bernard Lewis, now professor emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, wanted to find out who Khomeini actually was.
“So I did what one normally does in my profession: I went to the university library and looked him up,” he told me in an interview for my book, “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the Arab Spring.”
What Lewis came upon was a bound collection of Khomeini’s speeches, called “Islamic Government.” He read it in one sitting and was shocked.
What it revealed was a philosophy of Islamic statehood that used the harshest possible rhetoric to denounce non-Muslims and called for the spread of Shariah law across the world.
Deciding that something had to be done to expose the ayatollah and his intentions, Lewis contacted the op-ed editor of The New York Times, Charlotte Curtis, and offered to write a piece on the book.
Curtis rejected his proposal.
“I don’t think our readers would be interested in the work of some Persian author,” she said.
This is but one example of the many and varied ways in which the White House and the media colluded to create facts on the ground based on fantasy. Sound familiar?
It certainly came to mind while reading Amir Taheri’s piece in the New York Post on Saturday, in which the Iranian-born intellectual describes a new book he obtained, penned by Khomeini’s successor, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the current supreme leader of Iran.
Called Palestine, the 416-page tome is devoted to the issue of Israel’s inevitable demise, with a blurb on its back cover calling the author the “flag-bearer of jihad to liberate Jerusalem.”
According to Taheri, the book is only available in Farsi, but an Arabic translation is in the works. In it, he says, “Khamenei … uses three words [in relation to Israel]. One is ‘nabudi,’ which means ‘annihilation.’ The other is ‘imha,’ which means ‘fading out,’ and, finally, there is ‘zaval,’ meaning ‘effacement.'”
Taheri says Khamenei’s “strategy for the destruction of Israel is not based on antisemitism, which he describes as a European phenomenon, [but rather on] ‘well-established Islamic principles,'” among them “that a land that falls under Muslim rule, even briefly, can never again be ceded to non-Muslims.”
Khamenei lists three reasons that Israel, which he calls a “cancerous tumor,” is of particular focus: It is an “ally of the American Great Satan”; it has waged war on Muslims and is therefore a “hostile infidel”; and it occupies Jerusalem, “Islam’s third holy city.”
Taheri says Khamenei envisions achieving his goal of eliminating Israel “through a long period of low-intensity warfare designed to make life unpleasant if not impossible for a majority of Israeli Jews so that they leave the country.”
Though the nuclear program is not mentioned in the book, the implication, according to Taheri, is that “a nuclear-armed Iran would make Israel think twice before taking military action against the Islamic republic.”
Especially relevant to the current situation and near future is Khamenei’s boasting about how successful he has already been in making life impossible for Israelis through terror attacks from Lebanon and Gaza, and of his scheme to recruit terrorists in the West Bank to set up Hezbollah-style units.
“We have intervened in anti-Israel matters, and it brought victory in the 33-day war by Hezbollah against Israel in 2006 and in the 22-day war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip,” claims Khamenei proudly, pointing as well to the world’s “Israel fatigue.”
He must be pleased as punch with the way things are panning out so perfectly. Watching the disgust of American-Jewish leaders with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is simply another sweet notch in his turban.
Take, for instance, Thursday’s attack on Netanyahu by Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Though Hoenlein is no friend of leftist groups such as J Street, even he went after Netanyahu for appealing to U.S. Jewry to oppose the nuclear deal with Iran.
As far as Khamenei is concerned, then, Israel’s whole status is unraveling, just as he predicted.
What is clear from his words, as from those of Khomeini before him, is that the ayatollahs mean business and make no bones about it. We know they have been telling the truth about their threats and promises, precisely because they continue to make good on them.
Which brings us to President Barack Obama, whose capacity to obfuscate this truth in order to make good on his own threats and promises has surpassed Carter’s by miles.
Obama did not see Khamenei’s book or have it translated into English. He probably didn’t bother reading Taheri’s article. Nor would the content of either make a dent in his intention to complete the nuclear deal by hook or by crook. Literally.
But the rest of us should remember how Carter handed Iran over to the radical Islamists who control it to this day — and make no mistake about the extent of Obama’s abdication to them.
Ruthie Blum is the web editor of Voice of Israel talk radio (voiceofisrael.com). This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.