Haaretz reports that the Israeli foreign ministry plans to wage an all out diplomatic war against Iran in the run up to its June presidential election. The purpose is to show the world that Iran is a medieval, homophobic, misogynist nation outside the norms of western civilization:
Organizing demonstrations in front of Iranian consulates worldwide, staging mock stonings and hangings in public, and launching a massive media campaign against Iran – these are just some of the steps Israeli diplomats have been told to take in the coming weeks. The goal, according to a senior Foreign Ministry official, is “to show the world that Iran is not a Western democracy” in the run-up to the country’s presidential election on June 12.
What’s interesting in this is that the foreign ministry seems not to understand that Iran is, in fact, not only not a western democracy, it is not western. That nuance seems lost on them though perhaps if they consulted a map of the Middle East they’d understand their error.
As Israel proved after Hamas won the 2006 PA legislative elections, it is selective about which elections it depicts as legitimate democratic exercises. Israeli elections of course qualify as do U.S. elections. But Hamas? Certainly not. And Iran? Beyond the pale:
The main message Israeli diplomats should try to send is that “despite the democratic game of a presidential election, this is still a terrible regime that infringes on human rights and imposes many restrictions on its citizens,” the telegram said. In a nutshell, the goal is to “blacken Iran’s international reputation.”
Barak Ravid, known as a conduit for Israeli political and military figures, is remarkably explicit about the tactics behind the campaign:
“We decided to move from defense to offense,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said, explaining the decision to broaden Israel’s public diplomacy campaign against Iran to showcase other issues, such as human rights violations, instead of focusing solely on Iran’s nuclear program. “We need to show the world who the real Iran is and make sure that the presidential election does not create the illusion that it is a Jeffersonian democracy.”
Israel isn’t exactly a pristine western democracy either. But the MFA flacks probably don’t realize that by calling the kettle black they might call attention to the fact that the pot isn’t pristine either. If you recall that Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s current foreign minister, got his start in life as a bouncer at Moldova clubs, the sleaziness of this operation can be no surprise.
If you attempt to peek behind the Wizard of Oz’ heavy curtains to parse the meaning of this I’d guess that Bibi and Yvet are afraid that the moderate presidential candidate might win the election. This might mean a potential new Iranian opening to the U.S. In turn, this could prove disastrous for Bibi’s goal of bombing Iran. Therefore, it’s in the interest of Israel’s rightist government to smear Iran even, if, or especially if a moderate candidate assumes the presidency.