174 thoughts on “Iran: About to Arrest Reformist Presidential Candidate, U.S. Agrees to Join Multi-Party Negotiations – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “There will always be time if they don’t work to pursue harsher measures.” Unless, of course, the talks drag on for months or longer and in the meantime Iran obtains nuclear weapons capabilities.

    1. Even then, so what? Tell me what endangers the world more–the likely Israeli attack in the coming months on Iran’s nuclear facilities & its aftermath (we know how bloody this will be); or Iran’s potential development in the coming decade or so of nuclear weapons (even if Iran develops them we have no idea that they will be used at all, let alone against Israel).

      1. Well, exactly. First of all, so far it appears that Iran has not done anything it is not perfectly entitled to do under the NPT. It has every right and very good reasons to develop the ability to produce nuclear power both to provide domestic power now, and to prepare for the future when the oil supply dwindles and runs out.

        Second, Iran has no history of aggression against other countries going back almost 300 years, and there has not been any indication that is about to change.

        Third, despite the mischaracterization of the Irani regime as a bunch of “mad Mullahs”, they are anything but that. Whether we like them or not, they know what would happen if they attacked Israel or the U.S., and they are neither crazy nor suicidal.

        IF they are working toward developing nuclear weapons it will be as deterrent, and a perfectly rational and understandable action given the threat they have been under for the last years.

        1. Your empathy is impressive. Can you extend it to Israel as well? Surely you can understand their concerns that a state like Iran might acquire nuclear weapons? In this case it’s interesting to note who the Iranians have chosen as the new Defence Minister.

          1. It is very difficult to have empathy for the neighborhood bully who has a lifelong history of beating up all the other kids on a daily basis, and stealing not only all their lunch money, but the clothes off their backs and the shoes off their feet, plus anything else they might be carrying or wearing, and then forcing them out of the schoolyard altogether so he can take it over and call it his.

          2. Oh, but it is that simple. It is called coveting your neighbors’ property, and having the power to take it away from him. You can try to obscure reality by making it seem complex, but it isn’t really.

          3. PS How interesting that you put it in terms of empathy. I am a pretty empathic person, perhaps exceptionally so, but this has nothing to do with empathy. It has to do with coming up with a rational set of expectations by applying reason and logic to a set of facts and realities.

          4. Exactly. And, rationally speaking, Iran and Israel pose a threat to one another, and have reason to fear each other. It doesn’t just cut one way. By the way, any comment on the new Iranian defence minister?

          5. Iran does not pose any threat to Israel for the reasons I already outlined. Iran is never going to attack Israel, or anyone else for that matter. It has no reason to do so.

            On the other hand, Israel, with its history of aggression and ambitions to be the regions sole power, poses a grave threat to Iran. Therefore it would not be surprising if Iran developed “nuclear weapons capability” as a deterrent. The thing is, though, there is no evidence to date that this is what they are doing.

          6. You’ve shown precisely no “understanding” of the concerns that Iranians might have that Israel has nuclear weapons & how they (or other advanced Israeli weaponry) might be used against Iran.

          7. Iran does pose a threat to Israel. For example, it currently supports Hamas and Hizbollah, and supplies them with advanced weaponry, both of which threatens Israel.

          8. Is that the best you can do, Alex Stein? Iran poses a threat to Israel because of the (non-essential) support it allegedly gives to Hamas and Hizballah, two resistance groups that exist only because of Israel’s unrelenting, massively violent aggression against the Palestinians and Lebanon?

            Well, then, since Iran poses, at worst, a minor, indirect threat to Israel, and not a major or direct one, the most effective way to deal with the “threat” from Iran is not to escalate matters by taking hostile action against Iran, but to render Hamas and Hizballah superfluous by ceasing all aggressive actions against Lebanon, withdrawing completely from the Occupied Palestinian territories, and Sheb`a Farms, declaring the Green Line as Israel’s border, and leaving the neighbors alone.

          9. Well I agree that Hamas and Hizbollah exist because of the occupation and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon respectively. Where we disagree is over whether the two organisations’ ambitions are limited to seeing Israel withdraw from the occupied territories, although of course I’m eager to see the said withdrawal take place.

          10. So can we agree that if Israel ended the Occupation and negotiated a peace deal with Syria & Lebanon that Iran would no longer be a threat and Israel should stand down in its bellicose threats against it?? If so, I’m waiting to hear you call for such action. And not in the vague future, but right now. A peace deal with Syria calling for return of the Golan in return for peace with Syria & Lebanon & an immediate end to the Occupation (& return to 67 borders) in return for an end to Palestinian hostilities against Israel. Whadaya say??

  2. issues dividing Iran from the rest of the world including nuclear weapons research.

    Richard, are you suggesting that Iran is doing such research, because unless I missed something in the last few days there is still no evidence at all that this is going on. I think we have to be very careful to stay away from saying anything that even hints at that unless we can substantiate it. I don’t want to add any fuel to the fire, and I know you don’t either. One of the most disturbing things is hearing Obama repeatedly referring to Iran as having a nuclear weapons program when the available evidence suggests that they do not.

    looming military confrontation between Israel and Iran

    I have trouble with your wording here because it implies a mutuality there is no indication for. If there is a “military confrontation” it will occur if and only if Israel initiates it, in which case Iran will be defending itself against aggression. It is dangerously misleading in my view to suggest anything else even inadvertently.

    1. Iran’s nuclear research can fairly easily be turned into weapons research. It is true that all that we now know is that Iran is conducting nuclear research. We don’t know that they are conducting weapons research. But we FEAR that they are & that is the issue up for discussion in these talks & which I meant to describe in that phrase to which you objected.

      As for the military confrontation bet. Israel & Iran, I don’t mean to imply that Iran would be the cause of an Israeli attack against it. But if there is an Israeli attack there will surely be a military conflict that will encompass Iran, Israel, the U.S., the west and the Arab world. That is what I was referring to.

      1. OK. Thanks for clarifying.

        And yes, it is not unlikely that Iran will do as Japan has done, and develop a nuclear capability for domestic purposes that can fairly quickly be turned to a weapons program if the occasion demands. And that is one very good reason to ease up on the threatening postures, and try to develop good relations. There are many indications that Iran would prefer to be on a good footing with the U.S., and to let Israel be, but so far the U.S. has not cared for this scenario, and Israel most certainly has not.

    1. PS I assume you are referring to the fact that Iran is under serious threat of military aggression from two major nuclear powers that also happen to be the two most aggressive countries in the world. In that case, Iran’s reason for wanting nuclear weapons would be as a deterrent against those two habitual aggressors, and therefore it is important to get your attack in before they can develop an effective deterrent and spoil all the fun.

    1. Alex Stein, speculating is fun, and it has its place, but in this case I am interested in factual evidence, not speculation.

      And I find it interesting that you keep using the term “nuclear weapons capability”. Japan has had nuclear weapons capability for some time, yet has not attempted to produce a nuclear weapon because no threats have existed to make that necessary. If capability alone is an adequate deterrent, then that is great. Iran can protect itself from Israeli and U.S. aggression without having to actually produce a nuclear weapon. Under the circumstances that seems like a very good outcome to me.

          1. Well he’s wanted my interpol for his role in the bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, in which about 80 people killed. If there was Iranian involvement it gives lie to the claim that they pose no threat to any other state. To choose him as defense minister seems to send out a clear message.

          2. A commitment to evidece, eh? Or is that a commitment to irony?

            In any case: He is subject to an Interpol Red Notice, which is essentially an international arrest warrant. http://www.interpol.int/Public/data/wanted/notices/data/2007/57/2007_49957.asp.
            One presumes they don’t issue these things lightly.

            The Argentinian State Prosecutor has said that the appointment “is an extremely grave matter as he is someone who, as head of the al Kuds special group, is heavily implicated in the AMIA attack. His appointment doesn’t surprise me as this is a regime which has refused to give up those suspected of involvement in the terrorist attack; not only that, it has protected them and appointed them to public office, though none as important as this one, with ministerial rank.”

            So why is the case not very convincing? I’m all ears.

          3. Which Argentine state prosecutor is this one? The 3rd or 4th on this case? And what happened to the previous ones? And why does whatever this prosecutor has to say have any more credence than the previous ones who are no longer state prosecutors on this case.

            I’m all in favor of solving the AMIA attack. But I’m afraid that so many investigations have been so botched that it just might be impossible to do so with certainty. Though of course Alex Stein and his friends all know what happened without a shred of doubt & aren’t afraid to tell you so.

            Alex, you & I have argued this out before regarding Imad Mugniyeh’s alleged role in all this. I don’t choose to continue this argument much longer. So get yr last dibs in before I call it quits.

            Don’t you have anything really interesting to say about a subject that really matters?

          4. Another invention: At no stage have I said I know what happened. All I’ve suggested is that an interpol arrest warrant seems to me something that should be taken very seriously. I don’t know what you mean by the last question; I brought up this issue in the context of Shirin’s intimation that Iran poses little or no threat to Israel, and that the threat is only one way round. That is patently absurd, and the appointment of Iran’s new defence minister is a nice little indicator of this (although obviously there are far more important ones).

          5. No threat, Alex Stein, not “littler or no threat”. Please do not change my words.

            Iran will only pose a threat to Israel if Israel starts a war of aggression against Iran. The greatest threat to Israel is and always has been Israel itself.

          6. “One presumes”. One can presume anything one wants, but presumptions do not constitute evidence. Nor does Interpol issuing a Red Notice. The only presumption that applies here is the only one people who think like you refuse to consider, and that is the presumption of innocence.

          7. I’ll tell you what. I’ll support Iran handing over its defense minister to Interpol when Israel hands over Gen. Almog, who came within an inch of arrest on a war crimes warrant on an English airport tarmac a few yrs ago. Is it a deal?

          8. Shirin, it’s extraordinary that you have written the following two comments in the thread, and apparently without irony.

            1. “Alex, Is that what passes for evidence in your world? If so, I rest my case.”

            2. “Yes, and the case is filled with irregularities and not very convincing.”

          9. Nothing ironic about it. What seems to pass for evidence in your world would get you laughed out of court in no time.

          10. There’s something autistic about your responses: the irony is that you criticise me for lack of evidence while at the same time responding to a point by saying “the case is filled with irregularities and not very convincing.” In other words it appears to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

          11. I don’t much like the term “autistic” in this comment. Pls. don’t use it again. There are other words to use that don’t infer someone has an illness or mental/neurological condition.

          12. Richard – when there’s an Interpol warrant out for Almog’s arrest, I will also support him being handed over. In the meantime, I’m not sure why the absence of that warrant should effect your judgement of the Iranian case, anymore than you should tell someone not to bother going after a mass murderer because another mass murderer elsewhere in the country got away with it a few years earlier.

          13. There was a warrant for his arrest when he slipped out of England, where he was moments away fr. being arrested. I’d like to hear you say you supported his arrest and did not support the foreign office whisking him out of the country when the attorney general (or whichever legal authority enforces warrants) were about to arrest him.

            You & other Israel defender/apologists never call for war crimes investigations against Israel or individual officers who’ve committed them. That’s why I demand reciprocity in this process. You have heard of Truth & Reconciliation Commissions haven’t you? They’re based on the proposition that BOTH SIDES in a conflict must be held accountable, not just one (which is what you essentially advocate). So when I read you embracing the notion that Israel’s crimes must be investigated (& not in some vague way but rather specifically in cases like Doron Almog or Dan Halutz or the Gaza war), then I’ll change my tune.

          14. Richard – when I used to blog, I wrote about Dan Halutz, the issue of targeted assassinations, and the killings at Bilin. I have consistently called for the Israeli justice system to bring those accused of crimes like this to justice. I didn’t know much about the Almog case (which I’ve been reading up about now), and it seems that there’s certainly a case to be answered, although given your commitment to non-selectively imposing justice, does that mean that you do – after all -think the Iranians should hand their new defence minister over to interpol? Or is this selectively only to be imposed once Israel (fascinating how Israeli crimes suddenly morph into the arbiter of all others) hands over its accused?

          15. Alex, pardon me if I seem obtuse, but I fail to see anything extraordinary or ironic – or autistic – in my finding your concept of “evidence” to be seriously wanting in both cases.

            1. If you presented “X would be nuts not to do Y” in any case anywhere you would be laughed out of court, and it would be written up as a joke piece on legal websites such as abovethelaw.com.

            2. The “evidence” in this case is far from convincing to anyone except people like you who have a desperate desire to blame Iran for the attack. Add to that the fact that Iran has no proven history of attacking Jewish institutions in other countries, and no history of attacking Israeli targets, and has a Jewish community itself, which does very well, and by the way, receives economic support from the government for its institutions, and has no desire to emigrate, and you simply do not have a convincing case.

            If you find that extraordinary or ironic, I find it completely consistent.

          16. 1. I didn’t say Iran would be nuts not to develop a nuclear programme with weapons potential as evidence that they’re doing so, rather as an explanation for their motivation. The evidence is regularly there in the international media – for some reason you choose to ignore it. The line about them being nuts etc, btw, is from Israeli military historian Martin Van Creveld, and it’s quoted regularly by your hero Mr Chomsky.

            2. It’s not convincing to anyone…apart from interpol, a fact which you have decided is totally irrelevant, but I can assure you wouldn’t be if the subject under discussion was an Israeli criminal. And, once again, Iran regularly attacks Israeli targets – it merely does so through its proxies, Hizbollah and Hamas. As for the Iranian Jewish community in Iran doing so well under the Islamic Republic, that’s a bit of a simplification:

            – 17 Iranian Jews have been executed as spies since the revolution. While the community outwardly presents an image of being satisfied (and there are positive things such as an MP representing the community in parliament and there are active community centres) , there are reports of discrimination, particularly social/bureaucratic. The Islamic government appoints the officials who run the schools (sadly this is also the case with Israeli-Arabs in Israel), although in this case most of the officials are Muslim, and also requires that the schools are open on Saturdays. The last remaining Jewish newspaper in the country was closed down after it criticised this policy. More recently, of course, there’s the issue of Holocaust denial.

          17. So is your claim that the best way to improve the lives of Iran’s Jews is to support an Israeli attack on that country? Or do you oppose such an attack? You’ve never said.

            I maintain that the best way to improve the lives of Iran’s Jews is for Israel to resolve its problems w. its Arab neighbors and make peace. With no major irritant in relations, Iran would be forced to confront many internal issues that are swept under the rug in the midst of national threat (Israel faces the same predicament). This just might lead to a deeper form of democracy taking hold in both countries which in turn should benefit minorities like the Bahai & Jews.

          18. To choose him as defense minister seems to send out a clear message.

            Yes, the msg. seems clear to Alex Stein, Daniel Pipes, the Likud, Harry’s Place, and other pro Israel advocates. Not so much to the rest of us.

            The Argentina bombing investigations are a total disaster & it’s very hard to have any clarity about what happened. The Argentines have made a right mess out of the whole thing. Conspiracy theories abound as much as about 9/11. An Interpol warrant may or may not mean anything. But even if they do indicate a conspiracy that committed the bombings, it would seem almost impossible to me to prove that such a conspiracy was state policy. You claim that because Iranian government officials may have committed an act of terrorism nearly 21 yrs ago that this means that Iran is willing to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel. That seems quite far-fetched.

          19. Well that’s the first time I’ve been lumped together with Daniel Pipes! Not sure where you get the idea that I think his appointment means Iran is going to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel, but there you go. The point is it suggests that Iran’s intentions aren’t as conciliatory as some people (although not you yourself) often paint them to be. As for the questions surrounding the bombing, an interpol warrant doesn’t make the guy guilty, but would seem for now to trump the various apologetics trying to deny high-level Iranian involvement.

          20. You have confused the hostility and intransigence displayed by Ahmadinejad and his cronies for the views of an entire government and its people. And once again, neither Ahmadinejad nor even the defense minister will decide whether Iran uses or even develops a nuclear weapon. Khamenei makes that decision. He didn’t appoint the defense minister, Ahmadinejad did. So you’re attempting to read the tea leaves but you’re looking in the wrong cup.

          21. I don’t know what should be done vis-a-vis Iran: I see it as a quite impossible, damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario.
            The idea that Israel is somehow a legitimate impediment to Iran improving the situation of its minorities, though, is laughable, and I would say the same to anyone who suggested that Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Arabs somehow legitimises our failure to properly provide for the Israeli-Palestinian minority.

          22. No, it doesn’t “legitimate” it nor did I say that. It explains why an entire nation is unable to diminish the predicament of its burgeoning poverty, discrimination against minorities, & overall social maladies. When you have wars to fight & the nation is under threat all other issues become sublimated. When the threat ends then a nation can more easily be forced to come to terms with these underlying problems. This will happen in both Iran & Israel once the overall Israeli-Arab conflict is resolved.

        1. What have you Alex Stein have to say for the know terrorists, intelligence and military officiers who have served in Israeli governments during the past decades? Interpol should have put on their wanted list a considerable amount of the Israeli political elite. Plus a considerable amount of ecstasy producers, blood diamond traders and weapon dealers. And doctors.

          So let’s not be hypocritical. Turning the discussion to the Iranian defence minister is poor tactics. Why not discuss about the extremely dangerous religious and racist extremists in and around Israeli government. The Israelis are far more dangerous. They will start the war, not Iranians.

          1. It’s not hypocritical in the slightest. If you have an example of a case that has specific bearing on the Iranian/Israeli cold war, then I’ll be happy to discuss it.

          2. The case of (at least) four Iranian diplomats that Israel arranged to have tortured, killed, and their bodies dumped in pits — shall we discuss?

          3. If the facts are as you say you are then the people responsible should be brought to justice. And if Israel appointed one of those responsible as defence minister I would say it suggested their intentions weren’t conciliatory

          4. let’s take the second part of your reply: “If Israel appointed [a person responsible for crimes against Iran] as defence minister…it suggested their intentions weren’t conciliatory.”

            Ephraim Sneh WAS deputy defence minister when, in 1992, he ginned up the programme of demonizing Iran, pitched it to Knesset with the (ultimately effective) plea that Knesset allocate ever larger budget share to defence of Israel against Iran’s “nuclear threat;” expanded the campaign by shipping it overseas where Israel’s advocates in US tapped the US Treasury to ensure Israel’s security against the bogus Iranian nuclear threat.

            At an AIPAC meeting in DC in 2008 Sneh declared that the “Iranian regime was the problem,” that Iranians were incapable of changing it on their own, that such stringent sanctions should be imposed on Iran that its leaders would be incapable of feeding Iran’s 70 million citizens.

            In other words, former Minister of Defence Ephraim Sneh demanded that the US and the international community join in a campaign to starve 70 million Iranian civilians.

            Even to utter such a threat is a violation of the UN Convention against Genocide http://www.un.org/millennium/law/iv-1.htm

            In several resolutions in US Congress Jewish members led the action to haul Ahmadinejad before a UN tribunal, accusing him of violating the Convention against Genocide for allegedly saying that Israel should be wiped off the map.

            As most responsible persons are aware, Ahmadinejad did not speak that phrase.
            On the other hand, Ephraim Sneh DID, indeed, say that the Iranian people should be threatened with starvation.

            “I would say it suggested Sneh’s intentions weren’t conciliatory.”

          5. Well we need to distinguish the first part from the second: when he said the second he wasn’t a minister. Secondly, do you have any evidence of wrongdoing that you think interpol should put out a warrant for? As much as the policy of sanctions angers you, (right or wrong) it’s still considered a legitimate policy in the state’s armoury.

          6. Israel HAS appointed such a one as foreign minister. I’d say its intentions weren’t conciliatory in doing so. The only thing that can be said for Lieberman is there is no Interpol warrant out for his arrest (though he was indicted & convicted of beating up an Israeli teenager).

          7. Given my clear opposition to Lieberman (and the current government), I’m not sure what the relevence of this is. But if we are making the comparison, Lieberman does not stand accused – for all his sins – of orchestrating the murder of around 80 civilians.

          8. Do you think that anything Lieberman has done is as bad as what the Iranian defence minister stands accused of doing? If you do – and can explain why – then I’ll pursue this line of enquiry. If not, I’ll leave it to the side as a distraction from the issue under discussion.

          9. Lieberman is a far more dangerous figure because the defense minister in Iran does not make the major strategic military decisions as I’ve explained. Besides, Lieberman aspires to be prime minister & as such is a true danger to Israeli democracy.

          10. I didn’t ask who was the more dangerous figure; I asked who had done the worse crime. Unsurprisingly, you distorted my question. But I’ll still deal with it. I don’t know much about the role of the defense minister in Iran, but I do know that Lieberman is a foreign minister with little or no role in making foreign policy, other than spouting belligerence at the Scandinavians and wandering around Africa trying to do arms deals. He’s in the position because his party took 15 seats in the election, which means – unfortunately – that he couldn’t be ignored. From the outset, even Bibi & Co have managed to recognise that he’s an embarassment, which is why he has little to do with real policy-making. As for the Prime Minister ambitions, I predict he’ll have to serve a stretch in prison first.

            It would be interesting, btw, if the subject under discussion was the iniquities of the Israeli defence minister, and I came along and said “what about the Iranian defense minister?” I think we all know what the reaction would be.

  3. In an ideal media world run on facts & evidence, the history of the Israel vs Iran cold war would be the first reference in any discussion of “Iran, the greatest threat to humanity,” or Israel’s experiencing of an “existential threat” from Iran.

    That body of facts would start with the period from about 1955 to 1990 +- in which Israel launched dozens of operations with the purpose of deceiving Iran into transferring Iranian national wealth to Israel (ie. in the course of the Iraq-Iran war: “…[M]ore than anything else the [Israeli] weapons industry wanted to make money. As one Israeli Defense Ministry official, a key figure in Operation Seashell, recalls: ‘I do not remember even one discussion about the ethics of the matter. All that interested us was to sell, sell, sell more and more Israeli weaons, and let them kill each other with them.'” in Ronen Bergman’s “The Secret War with Iran”).

    Israel’s contra-Iranian operations included torturing and killing four Iranian diplomats, among them Ahmad Motovaselian. In “Secret War,” Bergman quotes the Israeli operative who carried out mass executions:

    ” ‘The four of them are dead, there is no doubt about that. Did I shoot them? That’s not sure. If it was me…I would have no problem saying so. Four fucking Iranians, so what? But you have to understand how things were done. When they brought people to me, to the pit, they were in underpants, shaven, without any hair on their heads or beards or mustaches…
    ‘About a month later [we got] an order…to clean out all of the pits quickly, because the Iranians were looking for their people….two Phalange truck drivers…were supposed to make four trips to empty the pits…[and take the remains] to a mountain…in the north where they dumped the loads into a deep wadi that…we call ‘the wadi of the skulls.’ ‘ ”

    With the end of the Iran-Iraq war a significant source of revenue to Israel dried up. (It is significant to note that Iran scrupulously paid its war debts. Saddam, on the other hand, was unable to persuade or coerce his Arab neighbors to help Iraq pay off the costs of its war. Angered that Kuwait not only refused to help but also drove down the price of oil, further constricting Iraq’s economy, Saddam retaliated by invading Kuwait, and on the advice of Dennis Ross and James Baker, Bush Sr. waged war on Iraq.)

    The second phase of Israel’s Cold War on Iran began in 1992 Ephraim Sneh’s resource-hungry budget and fevered mind. Sneh choreographed a dog-and-pony show wherein Iran was a nuclear threat to the world; he staged his show for the Knesset, demanding that more funds be allocated to beef up Israeli countermeasures.
    Eventually, Knesset agreed, but in the same fashion as Israel had used Iran’s treasury to finance Israel’s war machine, Israel now turned to the US to finance its acquisition of ever more sophisticated weaponry as well as intelligence capability.
    Israel mounted an intense lobbying effort in the US, starting first within the Clinton administration, then branching into the Senate, then eventually the entire Congress. The Pentagon and MIC contractors such as Lockheed Martin hired dozens of Hebrew-speaking salesmen, and US military budgets became the plaything of Israel’s war planners.

    It is critically important to recognize that the issue of Iran’s nuclear posture is a red herring, a Wolfowitzian construct, the Pearl Harbor event necessary to herd a gullible taxpaying public to agree to fund Israel’s war machine.

  4. Thanks Bessan. I thought I was reasonably well informed on events in the Middle East, but I have to admit that this was all new to me.

  5. Alex,

    When you wrote that Iran supplies Hamas with advanced weaponry, was that advanced as in tehnologically or just advanced for Hamas? Are we talking upgrades from pea shooters to bows and arrows or are we talking RBS 15 Mk 3 missiles, F-35As and Leopard 2A4 Evolutions? I love the way hasbaraniks use big words to describe small threats.

    JPost relates: “Long-range rockets and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles are some of the weapons smuggled into the Gaza Strip over the last 12 days, Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), told the cabinet Sunday.” How is it possible that Israelis can trap a Russian freighter carrying weapons to Iran but can’t do the same with Hamas? I know there’s probably hundreds of tunnels under Gaza but the Gaza border with Egypt is only so long. I don’t doubt that Israelis have the resources to conduct ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys to locate the tunnels – if they wanted to.

    1. Well I didn’t mean in comparison with Israel. I’d be very careful about describing Hamas’ and Hizbollah’s arsenals as small threats, though. Will they be able to bring down the state? No. But are they able to sow fear in the hearts of civilians across the northern and southern borders? Yes – they already have done. (And pointing out these basic facts should in no way be read as offering some apologetics for the far more grievous threat Israel poses to Palestinian civilian life; commenters on this site need to learn that it is possible to criticise different parties to a conflict without being drawn into irrelevant discussions of ‘moral equivalency’ and ‘power dynamics’).

      As for your second point, I don’t really understand. Israel frequently bombs the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

      1. I know that Israel frequently bombs Gaza’s tunnels but what I don’t understand is how, even after the bombings, a country as technologically sophisticated as Israel cannot spot “long-range rockets and anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles” amongst other weapons being smuggled into the Gaza strip (according to the head of the Shin Bet)? I mean, those are hardly inconspicuous contraptions.

        Why don’t I ever read of Israelis demanding these sorts of answers from their government? You (Israelis) read about Hamas allegedly acquiring “advanced” weapons and what do you do? You quake in your boots and you give your military the green light to commit further atrocities in your names and then you turn up on Tikun Olam to tell us how right you were. This I/P conflict is only going to turn around when Israelis let go of their collective fear. Forget about the Palestinians, whatever they can do on their part is irrelevant to resolving the conflict because the reality is that the key that unlocks every door in this mess lies with Israelis.

        But what may seem, to others, like the Jewish power to end or prolong the occupation, to me seems much more like a burden. Or a test. What do you do? Do you relinquish that power and end the suffering on both sides – but at the risk of losing your state? Or do you hold on to that power because it is recompense for your history as victims and because it elevates you above most others – it gives you your place in the world? Then again, I may be completely wrong. I am fasting after all, and it does somewhat affect one’s head! Any thoughts?

  6. I don’t know enough about the technology to answer your first point, although I assume that much of this stuff isn’t smuggled across in one piece.
    As for your second question, I’d be very wary of generalising about ‘Israelis’, not to mention the views of this particular Israelis, whose views you think to hold are largely an invention.
    As for your third, meta point: I don’t think we’d be risking losing the state by evacuating from the occupied territories.

    1. Alex,

      You made a point earlier of repeating you government’s mantra that Iran supplies Hamas and Hizbollah with advanced weaponry. Later you stated that this information has already “sow[n] fear in the hearts of civilians across the northern and southern borders.”

      I found it interesting that quite often in the past Israeli hasbara has boasted of Israel’s technological superiority and of how many nobel prizes have been bestowed upon Jews. Yet even with all of this prowess a bunch of thugs were able to sneak huge and deadly contraptions right under your noses. Bearing in mind the recent Russian freighter episode, anybody with half a brain would either question the accuracy of Shin Bet’s intelligence or its incompetence.

      But no, you stated that instead Israelis were driven to fear. Maybe that’s what your government wants from you, fear? Isn’t it fear that justifies the occupation to Israelis that have decided they can live with it? Isn’t it fear that drove your army in to Gaza at the end of last year? Without fear there is no enemy. And without an enemy there is no Zionism. God forbid (the whole of) Israel were a happy place and the Palestinians would have to be dealt with.

  7. I think it’s you that has a number of questionable assumptions about Israeli power, and you’re projecting them onto me. I was clearly distinguishing between citizens and governments.

    My Zionism has no enemy. And no fear either.

    1. My Zionism has no enemy. And no fear either.

      That’s a good sound bite. Perhaps you should put it into yr next novel–as in fiction, which it is. Your comments here bespeak enemies and fear galore. You may not understand them in those terms but many of the rest of us do when we read them.

      1. Well I happen to think that fiction – of the literary variety – is of far greater import than much of what passes for political analysis etc, so I’ll take that as a compliment. As for any novel I might one day write, the only thing from these threads that would get in is you, because you’re too good a character to be left out.

        Also – this is a regular phrase of yours in recent times: “You may not understand them in those terms but many of the rest of us do when we read them.” That is clear, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of you are right.

        1. the only thing from these threads that would get in is you, because you’re too good a character to be left out.

          That’s actually quite good & made me laugh. You might actually write a halfway decent novel some day! I’m slightly flattered though the compliment was entirely back-handed.

    2. Please don’t tell me that you’re suggesting Israel is powerless to stop the occupation, or that it’s out of your hands because that would be beyond laughable.

      Anwyay, your Zionism has no enemy? Oh, really? Let’s take a closer look at your other comments on this page…

      “…And in the meantime Iran obtains nuclear weapons capabilities.” Of which there is no conclusive evidence.

      “…A state like Iran might acquire nuclear weapons.” Might, being the operative word.

      “…If Iran isn’t trying to obtain nuclear weapons then they’re nuts.” So now you’d rather they acquired nukes? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

      “Anything to say on the new defence minister?” Repeated thrice.

      “…He’s wanted by Interpol for his role in the bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires…” “…He is subject to an Interpol Red Notice, which is essentially an international arrest warrant. One presumes they don’t issue these things lightly…” “…An Interpol arrest warrant seems to me something that should be taken very seriously…” “…An Interpol warrant doesn’t make the guy guilty, but would seem for now to trump the various apologetics trying to deny high-level Iranian involvement.”

      “Iran poses little or no threat to Israel…that is patently absurd, and the appointment of Iran’s new defence minister is a nice little indicator of this.”

      Sounds to me like your Zionism does have an enemy. But, perhaps you meant enema… so I’ll forgive you.

      Did you know that according to the 2009 Global Peace Index Iran ranks at number 99, 42 places ahead of Israel which ranks at number 141? Check it out: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/gpi/results/rankings.php

      1. You have distorted what I said. I shall explain why.

        “Unless, of course, the talks drag on for months or longer and in the meantime Iran obtains nuclear weapons capabilities,” not “And in the meantime Iran obtains nuclear weapons capabilities.”

        “…A state like Iran might acquire nuclear weapons.” Might, being the operative word.” Indeed. That’s why I used it.

        “…If Iran isn’t trying to obtain nuclear weapons then they’re nuts.” It’s not that I’d rather they do it; it’s just I recognise their motivations (this all reminds me of the opening scene of From Dusk Til Dawn, btw, which could act as a good metaphor for the conflict). I think that the problem here for everyone is that they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t. That’s one of the realities of the world we live in.

        Defence Minister repeated thrice because the question was clearly being evaded.

        Re. Interpol: What does wanting to see someone responsible for the murder of around 80 civilians brought to justice have to do with fear?

        Iran is a threat to the State of Israel; when I said my Zionism has no enemy I was referring to what made me into a Zionist and someone who made aliyah.

        Everything you say about me is – predictably – a distortion.

        If you really think Iran is a more developed, freer state than Israel – even allowing for the occupation – then that’s your choice.

  8. Richard – for the 100th time. I support a negotiated withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, based on something like the Geneva Accords. I wish their to be a government in place that would sit down and thrash out that deal with a Palestinian partner. The difference between us, I think, is that I don’t think Israel should unilaterally withdraw, which of course makes things more complicated, although not unbridgeably so. The other difference is that I don’t think that would mean Iran would no longer be a threat, although nor do I think that that should prevent Israel from negotiating said withdrawal.

    1. I’m not talking about a unilateral withdrawal, which is what caused Gaza to fail. I’m talking about an Israeli gov’t which announces today that it’s willing to withdraw to 67 borders & end the Occupation & recognize a Palestinian state w. a shared Jerusalem capital in return for an end to Palestinian hostilities against Israel. Are you in favor of that or not?

    2. I don’t think that would mean Iran would no longer be a threat

      Let me get this straight. The only specific Iranian “threat” you can come up with is the an indirect and relatively minor one based on Iran’s supposed support of the resistance groups Hamas and Hizballah. You admit that those two groups exist only because of the Israeli occupations of Palestine and Lebanon, and that their primary raison d’etre is to resist occupation. And yet you believe that even if Israel ends its various occupations in a manner satisfactory to the parties involved, declares the Green Line as its border, and ceases all aggression against other countries, that Iran will continue to be a threat.

      Sounds awfully irrational to me.

      1. You’re distorting what I said. I think the original context of their creation was the occupation; I think their ambitions are far greater than ending the occupation or getting Israel out of the Shebba farms (although no doubt if Israel was still sitting in some football pitch in South Lebanon it would still be used as an excuse. Speaking of which, China still has a very strong claim to Aurunchal Pradesh. If China had a pseudo-state militia to launch attacks from the area, would it be accepted? Of course not.) Iran is a threat above and beyond – it consistently demonstrates its opposition to Israel as it is currently constituted. For me, it doesn’t matter so much if they are prepared to violently support those goals (although obviously it’s best to weaken their ability to do so). The key point is that how Israel constitutes itself as a polity is basically none of their business (that’s how the international system works, from my understanding), and vice versa. So any country that spends any amount of time, from top to bottom of the system, demonstrating its opposition to how another country organises its internal system, is a threat.

        In any case, though, we should get out of the territories.

        1. You’re utterly hopeless, Alex. Hezbollah has no ambitions beyond liberating Lebanese territory. As an extension of Syria, it will not be able to sustain its mission once Israel, Syria & Lebanon make peace. Even if there are those in Hezbollah who seek to expand their agenda beyond this, it will not resonate with the Lebanese who would need to join & sustain it. Hezbollah will at that point morph into a political entity or else it will gradually disappear.

          Iran is a threat above and beyond – it consistently demonstrates its opposition to Israel as it is currently constituted.

          This is essentially meaningless. Iran wants Israel to cease being a threat to its security. Iran wants Israel to cease its ambition to remake the Middle East in a way that is favorable to Israeli interests. Once again, if Israel does this EVEN IF Iran wishes to expand its agenda, there will be no buy in fr. Iranians or other Arab states. You essentially believe that the Arab-Muslim Middle East harbors a secret or not so secret wish to eradicate Israel. You don’t phrase it that way. But that’s what you believe. And in this you’re little diff. than Pipes, Horowitz & Bibi himself.

          It’s sad that this is the same person who attends rallies at Bilin & claims to be open to the idea of investigating Israeli war crimes.

          any country that spends any amount of time, from top to bottom of the system, demonstrating its opposition to how another country organises its internal system, is a threat.

          So that means you must believe Israel is a threat to Palestine because it spends an obsessive amt of time demonstrating opposition to a group, Hamas, that won an election to represent the Palestinian people via the PA. So you must believe that attempting to poison the well & telling the Palestinians who are & are not legitimate representatives is none of Israel’s business & that it should be prepared to talk directly to Hamas (a view endorsed by most Israelis according to polls btw).

          1. 1. The Hizbollah leadership regularly states that it seeks the destruction of the State of Israel. The fact that they are not currently capable of doing this does not mean they should not be taken seriously. Do you really think the issue of the Shebaa Farms is what gets their supporters excited? As I said, Israel could be sat on a single football pitch in South Lebanon and dupes would offer apologetics for Hizbollah.

            2. Israel wants Iran to cease being a threat to its security. Israel wants Iran to cease its ambition to remake the Middle East in a way that is favourable to Iranian interests. In other words, realpolitik – not ideology – is primarily driving the conflict. Perhaps we agree on this (Trita Parsi is very strong on this issue). But it’s chicken and egg stuff.

            3. Another invention: I don’t believe there is an Arab-Muslim ambition to eradicate the State of Israel, but I do believe it is an ambition (of what level of priority I simply wouldn’t be able to tell you) of certain key figures in the Iranian government, including Mr Khameini. I believe that because they often say it. They also say other things as well, so I assume they’re familar with Walt Whitman, but I don’t see why it makes sense to ignore one message and believe the other.

            4. This is only sad if you live your life according to dogma.

            5. Well of course Israel is a threat to Palestine. That’s one of the reason why Palestine as yet doesn’t exist.

            6. I think there’s a difference between recognising the Palestinian election and being willing to talk to Hamas. I also support talking to Hamas, btw, but I don’t recall Hamas expressing an eagerness to sit down themselves.

          2. The fact that they are not currently capable of doing this does not mean they should not be taken seriously.

            They not only are not “currently” capable of it they NEVER will be capable of it. And yr. acting as if Hezbollah IS a mortal threat to Israel is simply sad, once again because an otherwise intelligent person should be able to understand things better and place them in their proper context.

            Israel wants Iran to cease being a threat to its security. Israel wants Iran to cease its ambition to remake the Middle East in a way that is favourable to Iranian interests.

            This is utter horse manure. Iran has no ambition to remake the Middle East. Yes, it sounds cute. You’ve taken my own comments & turned them inside out to use against me. But the only problem is that when you do so they ring entirely hollow. Not only that, but Iran is currently not a threat to Israel’s security. And even if you include so called Iranian proxies like Hezbollah, Iran is at best a minor irritant.

            I do believe it is an ambition (of what level of priority I simply wouldn’t be able to tell you) of certain key figures in the Iranian government, including Mr Khameini. I believe that because they often say it.

            That is a lie and you know it is a lie and if you repeat it w/o proof (of which there is none) you’ll be violating the comment rules. No one except MEMRI & those who are duped by mistranslations say Iran’s leaders have said they want to eradicate Israel. Shirin can provide real translations of what was really said if you care and aren’t merely mouthing sound bytes.

            I don’t recall Hamas expressing an eagerness to sit down themselves.

            Are you ignorant or worse? I assume ignorant. But it simply doesn’t make you look good to be so ignorant. Hamas has often stated its willingness to talk to Israel. I’ve written about this in the blog. Or did you forget or not read it that day?

          3. “horse manure”/”are you ignorant or worse”/”That is a lie” – you seem incapable of being pleasant. In any case,

            1. I never said they were a mortal threat; I said they were a threat. If we don’t remain vigilant, then they could potentially be a greater threat. If – as many sources suggest – they currently have the capability to launch missiles at almost anywhere in the country, then they certainly are a greater threat than they were in 2006, when they only hit the north (although some suggested they could have hit the TA area then, but decided to show restraint).

            2. We are going round in circles. Trita Parsi is good on this issue.

            3. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons capability, it will become a very serious threat to Israel.

            4. Ayatollah Khameini has called Israel a “cancerous tumour” that must be removed from the region. Reformist President Khatami called Israel an “illegal state” and a “parasite” (he was also asked on the issue of recognition, though, I guess he’s also read the Whitman poem – in that context there’s also the issue of the 2003 offer to the States). Ahmadinejad has said “Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps. Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned. Although we don’t accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, if the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe—like in Germany, Austria or other countries—to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it” Which is OK of course because he has no significance, which is why the regime fought tooth and nail to ensure that he remained in power despite losing an election. That’s just a few of the most prominent examples, for now. I await Shirin’s clarification – that actually the Iranian leadership thinks Israel is fluffy and lovely – with interest. I’d also like to emphasise that not all of the rhetoric is that harsh, but I see no reason why I should automatically believe that only the tentatively conciliatory stuff is to be taken seriously. We should listen to everything we are told.

            5. I may have missed that. I’ve also tried searching, and can’t find anything about Hamas calling for negotiations (apart from prisoner-exchange etc). Can you give me some pointers?

          4. they currently have the capability to launch missiles at almost anywhere in the country

            I’d like to see specific proof that Hezbollah has missiles that can do that meaning more than just a claim by a Shin Bet spook that this is true.

            If Iran obtains nuclear weapons capability, it will become a very serious threat to Israel.

            That’s a big if since Iran is some time away from that happening if it ever does. Second, even if it does you haven’t proven to my satisfaction that Iran would be willing to use its weapons against anyone, let alone Israel. In one of the most volatile regions of the world even Pakistan & India, who hate ea. other easily as much as Iran & Israel, haven’t used their weapons against ea. other. Are you really willing to claim that one of the poorest governed nations in the world, Pakistan, is less likely to use a nuclear weapon than Iran?

            Ayatollah Khameini has called Israel a “cancerous tumour” that must be removed from the region

            Source pls. Israel’s leaders have made equally noxious threatening comments about Iran and Israel already HAS nuclear weapons. What level of threat should Iran’s leaders legitimately feel in that case? Enough threat to want to develop nuclear weapons?

            Ahmadinejad’s nutty comments about the Holocaust have no bearing on this debate. Are you claiming that it’s more likely that Ayatollah Khamenei will approve dropping a nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv because Ahmadinejad in a Holocaust denier? Are you claiming that the Ayatollah wanted Ahmadinejad to be president because of his views of the Holocaust? C’mon. If that’s the case then surely you can find a statement fr. the Ayatollah expressing appreciation for the president’s views on the subject.

            Regarding Ahmadinejad’s comments about Israel as you “quote” them, again, there’s no physical threat that Iran will destroy Israel, which is what you claim exists. But there are actual physical threats fr. Israeli leaders that it seeks to bomb Iran.

            I wrote a post about Ahmed Youssef being interviewed on Israeli TV in which he specifically offered to negotiate with Israel.

          5. I’ve said ‘according to some sources’. I try to ensure that a certain degree of agnosticism always filters through my responses here, although I will try and find some stuff on this issue.

            Re. the Pakistan/India comparison, they’ve come too close for comfort on more than one occasion, and we certainly shouldn’t assume that heads will be cooler in this case.

            I’ve already acknowledged that Israel constitutes a threat to Iran, and I’ve already dealt with the issue of ‘cancerous tumour’ with Shirin. In any case, you know perfectly well that it’s extremely easy to find threatening comments from Iran towards Israel; to deny them is to live in cloud cuckoo land.

            I like the fact that Ahmadenihad’s comments are suddenly so nutty that they have no bearing on the debate. Needless to say, that isn’t the standard when an Israeli leader says something nutty. Again, I think a country that has embraced holocaust denial on the level Iran has (conferences, regularly talking about it etc), should be taken seriously. To deny the Holocaust is to lay the ideological groundwork for delegitimising Israel. In my opinion that needs to be opposed.

            Re. the last paragraph, I’m aware that the rhetoric isn’t always one way. But I don’t think we solve the problem by ignoring the stuff that doesn’t back up what we want to hear (and, of course, vice versa).

          6. To deny the Holocaust is to lay the ideological groundwork for delegitimising Israel.

            First, Israel politicizes the Holocaust itself. So Iran is reacting to such politicization & refusing to allow Israel to reap political advantage fr. Jewish suffering. Were the Holocaust simply a historical event & not exploited for any advantage Israel can wring out of it, then Iran’s response would be entirely illegitimate.

            But leaving all this aside, Israel has delegitimized Iran just as much as Iran has delegitimized Israel. Anyone who allows their knickers to get twisted in a knot over 2 countries engaging in a dangerous game of chicken & sees only their own favored nation as the victim of the game (that would be you), is simply too blind to see straight.

            If Israel toned down the hate & bellicosity, negotiated in good faith to end the Israeli-Arab conflict, then this conflict would go away.

            We’re all starting to repeat ourselves ad infinitum here. So I’m asking everyone participating in this thread to move on to other ones here.

          7. It’s interesting, Alex Stein, that you had to go back nearly a decade for the two – count ’em, two – examples of supposedly “threatening” rhetoric. Is that the best you can do? You can’t come up with something more recent? And while you are at it, try to find something that is – you know – actually threatening.

            It’s also very interesting that you didn’t bother to mention this, also referenced in your Wikipedia source:

            …Iran tried to initiate a rapprochement with Israel by recognizing its existence in a proposal to the United States. The report claims that Iran’s peace proposal with Israel was not accepted by the United States.

            A few details from the 2006 article referenced in footnote #16:

            Iran offered in 2003 to accept peace with Israel and cut off material assistance to Palestinian armed groups and to pressure them to halt terrorist attacks within Israel’s 1967 borders, according to a secret Iranian proposal to the United States.”

            “The two-page document contradicts the official line of the Bush administration that Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel and the sponsorship of terrorism in the region.”

            “Bush refused to allow any response to the Iranian offer to negotiate an agreement that would have accepted the existence of Israel.”

            “Interest in such a deal is still very much alive in Tehran, despite the US refusal to respond to the 2003 proposal.

            Yeah, a couple of snippets of ten year old, not-very-nice rhetoric sure does have more significance than a more recent, and still-alive written expression of willingness to recognize Israel.

            As for Ahmadi Najad’s suggestion that European countries should have donated land for the Jewish State, you don’t think he is the first one to have that idea, do you? And how on earth can that be construed as a threat of any kind. Are you really that twitchy and nervous?

            I await Shirin’s clarification – that actually the Iranian leadership thinks Israel is fluffy and lovely….

            Do you really believe that this kind of infantile remark helps your argument?

            I’d also like to emphasise that not all of the rhetoric is that harsh

            If that’s the case, then what on earth are you whining about? As nasty international rhetoric goes, this is like a pin prick that doesn’t even draw a drop of blood.

            I see no reason why I should automatically believe that only the tentatively conciliatory stuff is to be taken seriously.

            Certainly not! You would prefer to automatically believe that any and all negative rhetoric should be sought out, dug up, exaggerated, and then taken with deadly seriousness no matter how long ago and in what context it was uttered.

          8. Very clever Shirin, but I’m afraid it’s another distortion. Earlier in the thread I said the following – “Reformist President Khatami called Israel an “illegal state” and a “parasite” (he was also asked on the issue of recognition, though, I guess he’s also read the Whitman poem – in that context there’s also the issue of the 2003 offer to the States).” I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you just didn’t read that bit.

            If you want I can give you twenty examples of delegitimisation of Israel in the Iranian state media over the last month. Again, I ask you: do you or do you not accept that the Islamic Republic regularly denounces Israel and its very existence on a systematic basis?

            “Certainly not! You would prefer to automatically believe that any and all negative rhetoric should be sought out, dug up, exaggerated, and then taken with deadly seriousness no matter how long ago and in what context it was uttered.” Even if that were my error (which it is not), it would be preferable to yours, which is seemingly to deny it entirely. You are a Hasbaranik, and yet you don’t even seem to realise it. Read ‘This is Water’ by David Foster Wallace.

          9. If you can give me twenty examples of actual threats to Israel, then bring it on, but if your twenty examples are of the nature of the examples you have already provided, don’t waste your time. First, statements “delegitimizing” Israel are not threats, second delegitimization is often in the eye of the beholder, and I don’t trust your eye, third, for every statement by an Iranian delegitimizing Israel, we can produce several from Israelis that constitute real threats.

            And then there is the undeniable fact that Iran, for all its bombastic rhetoric, has not attacked another country for nearly three centuries. When you compare that to Israel’s incessant actual threats, and its record of compulsive aggression, the whining about Iran as a threat to Israel does not pass the laugh test.

      2. you believe that even if Israel ends its various occupations in a manner satisfactory to the parties involved, declares the Green Line as its border, and ceases all aggression against other countries, that Iran will continue to be a threat.

        Sounds awfully irrational to me.

        Beyond irrational. Either this indicates that Alex NEEDS to believe Israel will have enemies regardless of what it does, which means he’s a Jewish paranoid; or it means that he’s completely out of touch with the real politics of the Israel-Arab conflict (or both).

          1. I hardly ever read MEMRI, actually, and if you don’t believe me I can give you the password of my Google Reader to check (for whatever that’s worth).

            In any case, such a comment is entirely hypocritcal, given that you ban MEMRI from being mentioned on this site, and that you hardly ever deal with that which contradicts your own world-view.

          2. It doesn’t matter whether YOU read MEMRI. You picked up a mistranslation originally disseminated by such a source & amplified it yrself. You don’t know Farsi. You never bothered to ask anyone who does what these figures have REALLY said on the subject. You hear what you want to hear & disregard the rest, as Paul Simon once wrote.

            you hardly ever deal with that which contradicts your own world-view.

            I deal with you all the time & you contradict my own world view. I guess you forgot about that.

          3. First the shifting of the goalposts (now it doesn’t matter that I don’t read MEMRI). Then the inventions regarding what I do or don’t read. For your information, I spent Friday night drinking beer (and one shot of vodka) with a British journalist who has written extensively on Iran, in a new Tel Aviv bar which I would recommend. We didn’t agree on everything, but he would certainly laugh at the idea that the belief that the Iranian leadership harbours a deep hostility to Israel is merely the result of bad translation.

            As for the other point, I’m happy to be the exception that proves the rule. The point is you rarely initiate posts in that manner.

          4. Alex Stein, you don’t have to read MEMRI to be getting most or all your information from their translations. Most of the translations used by the media come from MEMRI.

            Where did your journalist beer buddy learn Farsi?

          5. he would certainly laugh at the idea that the belief that the Iranian leadership harbours a deep hostility to Israel is merely the result of bad translation

            I would too because I agree. What I don’t agree is that the Iranians have ever expressed the direct intention of physically destroying Israel, which is once again what you claimed. Is Iran hostile to Israel? Sure. But I hope you understand that there’s a diff. bet. expressing hostility & an avowed expression of an intent to destroy a country.

          6. I’ve never said that it means physical destruction, although it might. What it must mean is a call for some sort of regime change, which makes Iran a threat to Israel (the same goes for when Israel calls for the overthrow of the Iranian regime).

          7. You’re right. I confused what you said about Hezbollah with what you said about Iran. But Iran has not even called for regime change, so you’re still wrong. Ahmadinejad has said that Israel should disappear from the pages of history. Yes, that’s hostile & we’ve already discussed this & agreed. But nowhere in this statement, hostile as it is, is there any threat that Iran will be the agent of such disappearance. Israel on the other hand, as you say, has freely discussed regime change, & (through the agency of the President’s Conference) makes common cause w. a leader of the People’s Mujahadeen, which advocates violent overthrow of the Iranian regime. Not to mention public calls by senior Israeli leaders for military attack on Iran. No Iranian leader has done anything close to this, as harsh as Iran’s rhetoric may’ve been.

          8. A couple of things about the Ahmadi Najad quote. First, he was not speaking his own words. The occasion was Jerusalem Day, and he was quoting a statement from Khomeini that is traditionally repeated on Jerusalem Day. And specifically what he said was (working from memory here) “the occupation regime over Jerusalem will vanish from the pages of history”. Note that the verb “vanish” (or as you used, “disappear”) is intransitive, so there is no action implied on the part of anyone, and certainly no threat. This statement is a prediction, not a call for regime change, and certainly not a threat against Israel.

            As for the Mujaheddin e Khalq, they are not just violent, they are a really weird cult. Of course, the Americans have really cozied up to them in Iraq where Saddam had given them a piece of land not far from the Iran border to live on and operate from. And cozying up to the Mujaheddin e Khalq created a bit of a dilemma for the Americans since that group was on the official list of terrorist organizations, and the Americans had supposedly blasted their way into Iraq to wipe out terrorism. They entertained one very amusing solution to this problem, and that was simply renaming the organization as a way to get them off the list. I almost fell on the floor laughing when I heard about that – so typically American.

          9. I love this. Suddenly you have to speak Farsi to quote Iranian politicians. Of course the same applies to Israel, doesn’t it?

            Shirin – I have quoted a number of translations of Iranian politicians. Richard suggests you may speak Farsi. If these translations are inaccurate, please tell us how.

            Many thanks.

          10. No, you do not have to read or understand Farsi to quote Iranian politicians in translation, but you do have to read and understand Farsi to, as you claimed you do, “listen to and read what the Iranian leadership actually says.”

            Alex, you are a bright guy. Surely you know that if you are depending on translations from ANY source, even the best ones, you are not listening to and reading what a person actually says. What you are listening to and reading is someone’s TRANSLATION of what that person has said. The translation may be true and accurate, or it may be 100% incorrect, or more likely somewhere in between, and you have no way to evaluate the accuracy of a translation yourself. In any case, no matter how true and accurate it might be, it will never be what that person actually said.

            I cannot possibly verify any translation of anything without the original source.

          11. All the quotes are taken from the wikipedia page on Iran-Israel relations; and all are footnoted. Go over there and follow the footnotes. Then we can get into the meta-issue of translations.

          12. How about at least giving me a link? You want me to do something for you, at least don’t make me do all the work.

          13. Nevermind, I found it. Well, HERE’s an unbiased piece for sure! The very first footnote I go to references an article by Daniel Pipes. That’s what you get when you use Wikipedia as your main source. If this is the kind of source you depend on for your information it’s no wonder you’re paranoid. Might as well go to hasbara central and have done with it.

            And do you really expect me to spend a couple of hours wading through all those articles looking for the critical few sentences? Sorry, but I don’t have that kind of time. You’re going to have to help me out here.

          14. That’s rather selective, Shirin. It was also cited by CNN. In any case, surely searching for ‘cancerous tumour’ can’t be too hard?

            Also – many people on this blog would do well to take heed of George Orwell’s wise sentence: Just because it’s in the Daily Telegraph, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true.

          15. I speak Hebrew & can quote Israeli politicians & know when or whether they’ve been misquoted. Not so Iranian politicians because Farsi is not a lang. I speak. I trust Farsi speakers to tell me if someone has been misquoted. It is widely understood that Ahmadinehad’s comments on Israel were misquoted. Yet you rely on Daniel Pipes, MEMRI & their ilk to tell you otherwise. That’s instructive.

            I don’t know whether Shirin speaks Farsi, but I know a number of people who do if he doesn’t.

          16. My Farsi is rusty, so if you can consult people who have better facility, that would be great. I would want to see a video of the whole speech if available, and failing that the full text. I would want to see the context. A lot of what MEMRI does, of course, is to isolate things from any kind of clarifying context. Their translations are not always that far off per se, but when you look at a statement in context it changes the sense of the words significantly.

          17. Shirin – I’m sorry, but you’re doing hasbara. Do you or do you not think that the Iranian leadership regularly issues threatening statements against Israel?

          18. I see you’re hitching yrself to that lover of all things Muslim, Christopher Hitchens. Frankly, it doesn’t improve yr argument. I’d prefer have an Iranian I trust review the actual Farsi for a translation.

          19. Well I’m not surprised to see you getting all excited by this. Another distortion, though: I don’t rely on Pipes or MEMRI etc; one of the citations of the ‘cancerous tumour’ quote happened to be a Pipes’s op-ed in the WSJ. Another one was CNN. In any case, the fact remains that the Iranian leadership regularly issues obscene and threatening statements against Israel. Re. Ahmedinijad’s quotes, it’s not widely understood at all, and I have some good material on this which I will send later.

            In any case, it is a shame that you don’t seem to agree with Orwell’s dictum about the Daily Telegraph.

          20. I’ll do you one better: even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day. Pipes is a broken clock. The fact that he may say 2 correct things every once in a while is due more to accident than intent.

          21. it is a shame that you don’t seem to agree with Orwell’s dictum about the Daily Telegraph.

            It appears to me that you are the one who does not seem to agree with Orwell’s dictum. I don’t see you showing even close to the same skepticism toward your sources that we do toward ours. Seems to me that if it’s on Wikipedia via Daniel Pipes in the WSJ, and/or CNN, you take it at face value. And I don’t notice you ever questioning the source of the translations you are lapping up so eagerly from Wikipedia, WSJ, CNN, or wherever. You don’t seem to have noticed when I pointed out to you that one of MEMRI’s “services” is to provide “translations” to the media. If it’s a translation from Arabic, Farsi, or Urdu, and if it shows the speaker in a negative light, then there is a better than even chance that it came from MEMRI. So, you are probably depending on MEMRI a great deal more than you think.

          22. I don’t take anything on face value other than the clearly, demonstrably true phenomena of the regular pronouncements from the Iranian leadership regarding a future world without Israel.

            Re. Memri I don’t know enough about them: are their translations generally wrong?

          23. I don’t take anything on face value other than the clearly, demonstrably true phenomena of the regular pronouncements from the Iranian leadership regarding a future world without Israel.

            Come on! First of all, the best you can come up with is a couple of decade or more old translated snippets and sound bytes taken completely out of context. Second, you cannot say whether the phenomena (sic) you refer to is clearly and demonstrably true because you have no way to verify that the translation is accurate, what the words and phrases would signify if read in their context, or even that anyone actually made those statements. You most certainly ARE ignoring Orwell’s dictum for anything that seems to support your position that Iran is a threat to Israel.

          24. Regarding MEMRI, their mission is to go through the Arab and Muslim media with a fine-toothed comb to find anything they can use to demonize Arabs or Muslims. If a true and accurate translation will serve that purpose, then their translations are not bad, but if not, they will employ various methods of making the item serve their purpose including changing the meaning or sense of a statement by taking it out of context, stringing together two or more unrelated words, phrases, statements in a way that misrepresents them, malicious translation (choosing the most negative out of several possible translations regardless of what is suggested by the context), mistranslation of word or phrase here and there in a way that changes the meaning or sense of a statement, and at times out and out fraud.

          1. Shirin – the main example I’ve detailed is one from 2005. It’s not my fault that you choose not to engage with it. Am still waiting for you to answer that question, btw. If you want those examples from the Iranian media over the last couple of weeks, btw, I’m happy to give them to you. Just say the word.

          2. Don’t ask such idiot, snarky questions. You know precisely what I meant. Israel abuses the Holocaust for its own partisan political purposes. Iran pushes back in a lame, stupid way by denying Jewish suffering & the Holocaust. They do this at least partially because they seek to counter the act of manipulation engaged in by Israel. Both sides are doing something illegitimate. Let the Holocaust be the Holocaust. Don’t use it for anything other than what it is.

          3. Well your clarification makes things even worse (and that’s without mentioning the unnecessary “idiot” and “snarky”). Israel ‘abuses’, Iran merely pushes back in a ‘lame and stupid way’. Iran hosts conferences promoting Holocaust denial; Iran has cartoon contests on the subject. If you were talking about Israel and the Palestinians, there would be a point to be made. How Israelis and Palestinians use and abuse the Holocaust, for example, is one of the topics under discussion in our Combatants for Peace meetings. But to seemingly equate Holocaust denial with Israel using the Holocaust as soft power in order to justify its positions is, in my opinion, unacceptable.

    1. You are a fraud. There is no website for newjudaism.org, which you claim to represent. You have claimed you have smicha but never provided any proof. Tell me the year you graduated fr. HUC, provide some evidence that your name corresponds with a real person, or you will never publish another comment here.

    2. We don’t know whether he won fair and square or not. What we DO know is that there is evidence of some serious irregularities in the election, and it should be investigated.

  9. The reason I am sceptical about the capabilities that Israel claims Iran has is because of the whole Iraq 45-minute WMDs lie that was fed to us. Now, some might suggest that Israel had nothing to do with that claim, but I remember reading (a few years ago) this article from the Guardian that would suggest otherwise:


    As far as I’m concerned, the Iranian threat should be taken with a tiny pinch of salt. Not just because the threat is fabricated, but because of the lying liars that have fabricated it.

  10. Iran is a fascist dictatorship with the declared aim of wiping out the Jewish State. Any talks with it are going to be a waste of time. One can only hope Israel will terminate the Iranian threat. Freedom is not free; it is purchased with the blood of free men and women. Like the Spartans, Israel will resist Persian tyranny.

  11. That’s rather selective, Shirin. It was also cited by CNN. In any case, surely searching for ‘cancerous tumour’ can’t be too hard.

    1. So, where did CNN get it, I wonder?

    2. I don’t have a couple of hours to spend finding your stuff. If you want me to look at it for you, you’re going to have to make it easy for me. I am not your research assistant.

    3. You are not acting like the intelligent guy you are. How the hell do you expect me to tell you whether a translation is accurate or not by reading an article in English that contains an English translation of what someone said in another language? I need to see what they said in the original, not someone’s translation. You are reminding me of the idiot on Helena’s blog who said he evaluates a translation by comparing it to other translations. WTF?! And THEN what? He chooses the one that comes closest to what he wants the person to have said?

    1. That’s impossible; I don’t know how to search for things in Farsi. You are avoiding the issue. If someone asked me to find out if an Israeli leader had called the Palestinians a cancerous tumour (indeed I seem to recall an Israeli leader saying something similar a few years back), I would be able to find out straight away. You are also perfectly capable of doing so. It would take a maximum of two minutes, and not two hours.

      1. Alex, you are not as dumb as you are pretending to be right now. What did you think I was going to be able to do with only the English translations you are relying on? I thought at least the Wiki footnotes would point to the original statements, but clearly they do not.

        If you want me to evaluate translations you are going to have to figure out a way to do the footwork. I am not your errand-person.

  12. Re. Daniel Pipes – it’s interesting to think about this in comparison with your dispute with Helena Cobban over the HRW guy. I happen to think you both have strong points, buts what’s important is that Cobban didn’t let the fact that it was an NGO Monitor report stop her from dealing with the allegations. She read the report and came up with her own conclusions. In other words, just because it was int he Daily Telegraph she didn’t necessarily dismiss it as wrong. This is impressive. Personally I think Pipes is probably slightly unhinged, and has a deeply peculiar prose style. Does that mean he never says anything that has validity? No.

  13. Calling for Israel to disappear from the page of history is a call for regime change. They may or may not have said that they’ll be at the forefront of efforts to implement this, but that’s because they don’t need to – they know they have useful dupes across the west who will make apologetics for them, in much the same way that the Israeli government knows it has hasbara drones to do its bidding.

    1. Alex, please listen carefully, and try to absorb this.

      The occasion on which Khomeini made that statement was Jerusalem Day, and Khomeini explicitly referred to the “occupation regime in Jerusalem”. Occupation. Jerusalem. The occupation of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem is occupied. Get it?

      The intent of the statement was not to call for anything, it was a prediction that over time the regime would collapse, just as other regimes and empires have done. He was not calling for someone or something to cause the occupation regime over Jerusalem to vanish, he was saying that over time it would vanish.

      It must be miserable to be so eager to feel threatened all the time that you insist against all reason that everything is a threat.

      1. Sorry Shirin: This is the translation of Ahmadinehad’s speech from Oct 2005, which quotes Khomeini’s famous statement: “Our dear Imam [Khomeini] said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. … Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. … For over fifty years the world oppressor tried to give legitimacy to the occupying regime, and it has taken measures in this direction to stabilize it.”

        Christopher Hitchens goes on to say: “Not even Professor Cole will dispute that, in the above passages, the term “occupying regime” means Israel and the term “world oppressor” stands for the United States. (The title of the conference, incidentally, was The World Without Zionism.) In fact, Khomeini’s injunctions are referred to twice. Quite possibly, “wiped off the map” is slightly too free a translation of what he originally said, and what it is mandatory for his followers to repeat. So, I give it below, in Persian and in English, and let you be the judge:

        Esrail ghiyam-e mossalahaane bar zed-e mamaalek-e eslami nemoodeh ast va bar doval va mamaalek-eeslami ghal-o-gham aan lazem ast.

        My source here is none other than a volume published by the Institute for Imam Khomeini. Here is the translation:

        Israel has declared armed struggle against Islamic countries and its destruction is a must for all governments and nations of Islam.”

        And then: “Professor Cole has completely missed or omitted the first reference in last October’s speech, skipped to the second one, and flatly misunderstood the third. (The fourth one, about “eliminating the occupying regime,” I would say speaks for itself.) He evidently thinks that by “occupation,” Khomeini and Ahmadinejad were referring to the Israeli seizure of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. But if this were true, it would not have been going on for “more than fifty years” now, would it? The 50th anniversary of 1967 falls in 2017, which is a while off. What could be clearer than that “occupation regime” is a direct reference to Israel itself?”

        either way, this is the trump: “One might have thought that, if the map-wiping charge were to have been inaccurate or unfair, Ahmadinejad would have denied it. But he presumably knew what he had said and had meant to say. In any case, he has an apologist to do what he does not choose to do for himself. But this apologist, who affects such expertise in Persian, cannot decipher the plain meaning of a celebrated statement and is, furthermore, in need of a remedial course in English.”

        I don’t know enough about the context of the original statement. Perhaps Ahmadinejad has misunderstood him, perhaps not. If Khomeini only had a problem with the occupation, though, I’m sure he would have been keen to clarify the misunderstanding. In any case, you said earlier you are more interested in up-to-date stuff. Here you have it.

        1. Alex, that is not a true and accurate translation. The true and accurate translation has, I believe already been posted here at least once, but I will relate it to you again. Ahmadi Najad quoted Khomeini as saying that the occupation regime over Jerusalem will vanish from the page of time”. He did not say anything would be wiped off the map.

          And what do you mean “even Christopher Hitchens”? Is he your expert now? Christopher Hitchens is an old drunkard who writes and speaks pretty-sounding prose, and never tries to conceal his biases. You might as well cite Daniel Pipes to me. And Christopher Hitchens is hardly someone to go to for a translation from Farsi. I am no big fan of Juan Cole, but given a choice between Hitchens and Juan Cole as someone qualified in Farsi, there is simply no contest. Juan is fluent in Farsi, Christopher Hitchens has no competence in the language. Juan is interested in facts, even though his analysis is not always on the mark (especially when it comes to Iraq), Christopher Hitchens is interested in promoting his prejudices. Juan is an academic, Christopher Hitchens is a well-spoken, glorified hack.

          And I notice that you conveniently did not bother to reference Juan’s response to Hitchens. Did you think no one would notice it?

          Seriously, Alex Stein, you need some sources who are actually qualified to speak about their subject.

          1. Hitchens quoted the NYT Bureau in Tehran (if you’ve read the article you must have noticed this, although you try and imply that Hitchens translated it himself – typical of your hasbara tactics), who presumably also has a good level of Farsi. In any case, he has included the original words of Khomeini (in Farsi as well for you to verify), with the translation that his own publishing house issued!

            Re. the Cole response, as I’ve already said, please post the link.

  14. Esrail ghiyam-e mossalahaane bar zed-e mamaalek-e eslami nemoodeh ast va bar doval va mamaalek-eeslami ghal-o-gham aan lazem ast.

    My source here is none other than a volume published by the Institute for Imam Khomeini. Here is the translation:

    Israel has declared armed struggle against Islamic countries and its destruction is a must for all governments and nations of Islam.

        1. Oh, cut the crap, Alex. You lost this argument a long time ago. No one has moved the goal post, we are just asking for something that actually supports your position that at this present moment Iran is a threat to Israel. Rhetoric from a man who died over twenty years ago (and who, by the way, never actually made a move against Israel) does not support your case.

      1. Interesting, isn’t it, that whereas Khomeini supposedly called on “all governments and nations of Islam” to devote themselves to the destruction of Irael, he never made a move in that direction himself.

        1. Interesting, isn’t it, that you’re shifting the goalposts by bringing up the issue of what Iran has practically done to undermine Israel, when we still haven’t come to a consensus on the rhetorical and ideological basis of those actions. And interesting, isn’t it, that you’re still using that word ‘supposedly’, even though you have the Farsi (albeit transliterated) and English in front of you of Khomeini’s words, from what amounts to his own publishing-house.

          1. Have you never heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words”?

            But more to the point, you referred to actions when no actions have been taken, and you expect people to find significance in the alleged rhetorical and ideological basis of non-actions when the alleged rhetoric took place more thanh two decades ago? Are you serious؟?!

            You are boring me to death with your irrational and illogical approach, and I have other things to do at the moment, so I will bid you farewell for now.

    1. I don’t need to read more than I already have on that. I know what he said, I know what it means literally and otherwise, I have read about it and discussed it with people who are more current in Farsi than I am, and I am very satisfied that I have an accurate understanding of the statement, its history, its meaning, and its significance.

      1. You ask for evidence for my positions, and then you refuse to read it. And you still haven’t answered the very simple question vis-a-vis Iranian statements regarding Israel. You are a hasbaranik. And a bad one at that.

        1. First, I have read the article, and the response from Juan Cole, which you have utterly ignored. Second, Christopher Hitchens is lower than Tom Friedman and about on a par with Daniel Pipes on the credibility scale when it comes to issues like this.

          I have no idea what question you are referring to. I cannot keep up with everything here.

          1. Shirin – if you’ve read the article, and you’re attentive to Orwell’s dictum (as you stated earlier), then I’m sure you’ll be haoppy to deal with some of its content rather than dismiss it a priori on account of its author. Secondly, I didn’t ignore the Cole response; I didn’t know he had written one. Post the link and I’ll be happy to have a look.

            The question is this (apologies for phrasing it differently previously): Are you denying that the Iranian leadership and media speak systematically about Israel no longer being a part of the international system?

          2. Alex Stein, this is getting boring as hell. Christopher Hitchens’ translation bears no relation to what Ahmadi Najad said. His attempted take down of Juan is transparent to say the least. I don’t dismiss it a priori, I read it and it was exactly as I would expect from Hitchens. If you can’t see through that man, then I can’t help you.

            You don’t need a link to Juan’s response, it is right there on the page for anyone who does not want to avoid it to see.

            Bottom line, Christopher Hitchens doesn’t know Farsi, he doesn’t know Arabic, and he only knows the Middle East from the narrow, biased, prejudice, islamophobic viewpoint. How would you respond if I referred you to an article on Jews written by David Duke?

          3. Shirin – call me Alex. Now you must have eyes to see, so I am sure you know that the translation wasn’t Hitchens, it was Nazila Fathi of the NYT Tehran bureau. Are you suggesting that this person doesn’t understand Farsi?

            I have looked at Cole’s response, and am heartened that he is more reasonable on the issue of Israel than you are. But he doesn’t deal with the issue that Ahmadinejad’s statements rely on words originally spoken by Khomeini, the meaning of which is extremely clear, as even you are beginning to acknowledge.

            As for your belated answer to the question, at least now I am clear in your agreement with the said rhetoric that you have previously attempted to deny. It’s your choice, of course, and I wish you well to wear it, but I guarantee the only result of policies based on these ideas will be greater misery for the people you purport to care about.

          4. I don’t give a damn what Hitchens’ source is for the translation, it is not a true or accurate translation. I trust myself, and I trust others whose Farsi skills are known to me.

            Now I am well and truly bored to death, and I wish you good day.

          5. Regarding your question, so what, and big deal. Israel is a rogue state and has been since its creation. It was only recognized as a result of heavy political and economic pressure, mostly from the United States. Israel should be ostracized and boycotted until it begins to comply with international norms of behaviour for a civilized state, and stops being The Jewish State and becomes a non-ethnocratic state and a state for all its citizens equally.

          6. PS First of all, my Farsi is still adequate to know that the Translation Hitchens has presented is not even remotely accurate. Second, I know that Christopher Hitchens knows no Farsi, so is in no position to know what a true and accurate translation looks like. Third, as I have already said, I have read enough and discussed enough with people whose Farsi is more current than mine to know that Hitchens’ translation is bull****.

  15. Richard – re. Daniel Pipes: I think he’s probably slightly deranged, and much of what he writes is bizarre. But the George Orwell dictum applies to him too. It’s interesting, in this regard, to bring in your dispute with Helena Cobban. I tihnk both of you have a good case. What’s interesting about Helena’s stance, though, is that she read the NGO Monitor report and considered it on its own terms. She didn’t just a priori dismiss it because it was written by NGO Monitor. Good for her for being so open. She obviously knows Orwell’s dictum.

  16. Richard – the translation was by Nazila Fathi of the NYT Tehran bureau. Are you questioning the level of this person’s Farsi? Shirin – at least Richard might not have seen me point that out earlier. What is your excuse?

    Nice pun, though – hitching, Hitchens.

    1. Final word. My “excuse” is that I know enough Farsi, and have been over this enough with enough people whose Farsi is more current than mine to know that this translation is not correct, is not accurate, is not true, does not convey the correct meaning of the words, let alone the sense of what the speaker was trying to say.


      1. So you’re saying that the NYT Bureau translator got it wrong? Can you explain why? If this was Hebrew and it was wrong I would be able to explain to someone who didn’t speak Hebrew why not.

        1. Alex Stein, I have provided the correct translation several times. Juan Cole, who is fluent in Farsi, agrees with my translation, as do numerous others. I don’t know the person who produced the one for the NYT, and I am not going to speculate on why someone else got it so terribly wrong.

          خلص khalas finished.

  17. Shirin – I don’t have the strength to deal with your run-arounds; for now it’s enough for me that you’ve acknowledged the bombastic threats. One last thing, though – I don’t know why you think this three centuries argument trumps everything. Iran’s only been an Islamic Republic for 30 years.

    1. Oh for god’s sake, Alex, you lost this argument hours and hours ago, give it a rest.

      And please, in your desperation, do not put words into my mouth. I have never acknowledged threats at all. I have acknowledged bombastic rhetoric. And yes, Iran has been an Islamic Republic for 30 years, during which it has continued the 300 year history of not attacking other countries. So, what has changed so drastically that it is going to suddenly change the habit of 300 years, and suddenly decide to attack a country that could turn it into a pile of glass and rubble within minutes?

  18. When all else fails, Shirin, swear. It’s interesting that not even Cole dismisses the translation so lightly. I find it fascinating that you’re suggesting the NYT has employed someone whose translation is bullshit. Especially when their name sounds pretty Iranian to me.

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