RUTHIE BLUM: HAPPY AL-QUDS DAY
It is the last Friday of Ramadan, when Islamists across the globe will participate in al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day marches against Israel. The annual tradition was established in 1979 by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the first Supreme Leader of the newly-formed Islamic Republic of Iran.
Though ostensibly a show of solidarity with the Palestinians, it was actually created as a mass expression of anti-Zionism — something that could unite otherwise heterogeneous groups under a consensual banner.
“For many years, I have been notifying the Muslims of the danger posed by the usurper Israel,” Khomeini declared. ”… I ask all the Muslims of the world and the Muslim governments to join together to sever the hand of this usurper and its supporters … I ask God Almighty for the victory of the Muslims over the infidels.”
This was not an indication of the ayatollah’s sympathy with the Palestinian cause. Khomeini cared as little for the Palestinians as a national entity as he did for Iran as one. In fact, on his flight back to Iran after 14 years of exile, he was asked by reporter Peter Jennings how he felt about it. “I feel nothing,” Khomeini said, indicating that it was the Islamic caliphate he cared about, not some country from which he happened to hail.
He also exhibited contempt for PLO chief Yasser Arafat, by not allowing him to act as an intermediary during the American Embassy takeover by radical Muslim students, among them a 23-year-old named Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Trying to show U.S. President Jimmy Carter that he had clout with the mullahs in the Islamic republic, Arafat offered to “intervene” to negotiate the release of the hostages. Carter was hopeful; Khomeini laughed in both their faces.
Some things never change, no matter how much time passes — in this case 33 years. Carter is the only one of the aforementioned triumvirate who is still alive. He is also still appeasing away. Khomeini’s and Arafat’s successors are still singing the same old tune. Only now, the weapons at their disposal are far more deadly.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly emphasized that “the issue of Palestine is an Islamic issue.” He made sure to say this to Palestinian Prime Minister (in Gaza) Ismail Haniyeh when the Hamas chief made a pilgrimage to Iran in February to bow down before the grand mullah. Nor has he ever hidden his ultimate aim: to spread the rule of shariah throughout the world. Since doing this by the sword, as the Prophet Muhammad commanded, is a bit time-consuming and lacks efficiency, he intends to carry this out by more potent means.
This week, Khamenei reiterated Iran’s genocidal stance in relation to the Jewish state, by cloaking it in language geared towards rallying his own disgruntled people around the “Palestinian nation.”
Not that he really needs to make an effort to draw a crowd for the march. After all, he’s got endless numbers of Basij militiamen he can order to parade around like average citizens.
Nevertheless, he likes making public speeches that he knows will be heard around the globe, including in Washington. That the Obama administration’s response to his threats and promises is to continue to engage in meetings with Iranian representatives and the P5+1 countries serves to strengthen Khamenei’s belief that you can’t go wrong when Allah is on your side — even against the “Great Satan.”
Where the “Small Satan” is concerned, however, Khamenei is not so sure. Whereas President Barack Obama keeps insisting that there is time to give diplomacy and sanctions a chance, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been warning Israel not to expect American support if it jumps the gun and goes after Iran’s nuclear facilities on its own, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been asserting that the point of no return has arrived. Even Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren has abandoned his previous expressions of diplo-love for the White House in favor of stepped-up rhetoric about the imperative of ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program is set back by a few years, if not destroyed.
It is thus that Khamenei’s speech on Wednesday included an updated version of President Ahmadinejad’s threat to “wipe Israel off the map.” “This bogus and fake Zionist outgrowth will disappear off the landscape of geography,” he announced.
Meanwhile, as the Palestinians are getting puffed up at the prospect of a whole day of solidarity for their “cause,” and as the Obama administration and the mullocracy in Tehran are beginning to shake in their boots over a possible Israeli military strike before the American presidential election in November, another voice has just chimed in to try and make Netanyahu’s delicate position untenable.
President Shimon Peres, in honor of his 89th birthday, gave an interview to a fawning Yonit Levi on Channel 2, in which he came out publicly against an Israeli military strike on Iran. It is not at all surprising that Peres should oppose such action; he had even been vehemently opposed to Israel’s strike on the Osirak reactor in Iraq in 1981. But it is not his place as president — a job that requires him to keep his mouth shut about politics, while serving as a unifying figurehead — to express any opinion, let alone one that openly contradicts government policy.
Worse than that: Peres assured viewers that Obama would never let Iran go nuclear, because that would hinder American interests. Therefore, he said, Netanyahu should not attempt to take on a mission that he is incapable of carrying out anyway.
On this, the last Friday of Ramadan, the supreme leader of Iran ought to wish Peres many happy returns for his contribution to al-Quds Day. Maybe he should invite him to join in the march.
Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring,’” now available on Amazon and in bookstores in Europe and North America.
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