Malcolm Hoenlein delivered a strange video address to the people of Iran recently which you’ll find on YouTube. It reminds me a little of those old science fiction movies in which the president makes a television address to invading Martians telling them that we are a peaceful people and wish them no harm. This is one bizarre performance.
After thinking about this a little more, it occurs to me that this is precisely the type of address that George Bush would deliver on the eve of bombing Tehran. Imagine the sheer megalomania of Hoenlein arrogating to himself the role of explicating U.S. policy and American Jewish attitudes toward that country. He has the sheer chutzpah to make comments like the following:
We know that the people of Iran do not support Ahmadinejad…
Whether or not the majority of Iranians support Ahmadinejad (and how would Hoenlein know that they don’t?), they certainly do not support whatever Hoenlein is trying to sell them.
We want to help you, we want to work with you, we want to support you in your effort to have a better life; to have a government that reflects your positions, your interests, and can help contribute to a different kind of region in the Middle East; to a different kind of world at large.
…This effort to achieve a nuclear capacity at any cost…[stems from] a misguided desire on their part to achieve hegemony and to foster their own extremist religious and ideological goals.
We hope the people of Iran understand that we reach out to you, we care about you. We want to do nothing that harms you or hurts you. We understand that this [Ahmadinejad] is not the voice of the people of Iran.
Does Hoenlein seriously believe that this will persuade Iranians that their leaders are making a grievous error in pursuing a nuclear weapon (if they indeed are doing so?).
This feeble performance begs many questions: why does Malcolm Hoenlein think any Iranian gives a flying fig what he has to say? Has the Conference of Presidents ever done anything to earn the trust or respect of Iranians? How does Hoenlein expect that his message will be heard by Iranians? Does he expect they’ll broadcast it on their nightly news? Will he set up his own Persian version of Radio Marti (Radio Tehran?) and beam it directly to his Iranian audience?
So let’s dispense immediately with the likelihood that Hoenlein has even an ounce of credibility with any Iranian. Has he pulled this stunt in order to impress his own constituency (i.e. hard-line American Jewish leaders who are gunning for war against Iran)? If so, what is he trying to prove to them? That he’s put American Jewry’s best foot forward in attempting to persuade Iranians that we mean them no harm but that it’s those dreadful ayatollahs we aim to exterminate?
Trying to plumb Hoenlein’s thinking is a little like spelunking through the mind of Marty Peretz: it’s deep and dark in there and hard to figure out which way is up or down. But this is the quality of American Jewish “leadership” these days. The troglodytes lumber through halls of power roaring for Iranian and Palestinian blood disguising their true agenda with fake deferential speeches like this one. Woe unto a people with leaders such as these. Who appointed them to represent us? All I can say is: not in my name. Not in my name does this man speak.