Letter from America – Obama, Israel and Iran
By Habib Siddiqui
Recently Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the White House but offered little support to Obama’s commitment to a two-state solution. It is highly unlikely that he will honor Obama’s wish without receiving a supplemental guarantee from the White House that it will do Israel’s dirty war against Iran.
Netanyahu has Dennis Ross, Obama’s “point man for Iran” on his side. Ross’s ties to hawkish pro-Israel groups in the U.S. and to Israel itself are well-known. He parrots the Israeli position to punish Iran. He is the co-founder of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and former chair of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (a non-profit created by the Israeli government-funded Jewish Agency). He had received $421,775 in speaking fees in 2008 of which more than a half, $220,000, came from Israeli and Jewish political and religious organizations, including $40,000 from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). His provocative public statements on Iran and his association in pro-Israel think-tanks make him unfit for mending fences with the Islamic world. But with so much pro-Israeli control with all matters dealing with foreign affairs and defense policy, it is unlikely that Ross will be replaced by a more neutral diplomat.
Israel and her drumbeaters for war have been making much noise in the media about how close Iran is to explode a nuclear bomb that can obliterate the rogue state of Israel. Conveniently forgotten are IAEA’s own findings that dispute such claims. The Islamic leadership in Iran has long maintained that the use of nuclear weapons is un-Islamic. Its supreme leader Ayatullah Khamenei said in Oct. 2003, “The Islamic Republic of Iran, based on its fundamental religious and legal beliefs, would never resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction.” He reiterated, “In contrast to the propaganda of our enemies, fundamentally we are against any production of weapons of mass destruction in any form.” Grand Ayatollah Yusef Saanei, one of the highest-ranking clerics in Iran, said in an interview: “There is complete consensus on this issue. It is self- evident in Islam that it is prohibited to have nuclear bombs. It is eternal law, because the basic function of these weapons is to kill innocent people. This cannot be reversed.”
Such views are not isolated ones heard inside Iran. As Saanei had said clerical authorities have expressed opposition to the development of WMDs for many years, and he described it as the reason that Iran never retaliated with chemical weapons when Saddam Hussein used them to kill Iranian troops and Iran-backed Kurds during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.
So, why all these fuss about Iran’s nuclear program? The answer is provided by a young Jewish-American professor Noah Feldman who is touted as an expert on Islam and Shariah. He helped to draft the Iraqi constitution. In his 2006 NYT essay “Islam, Terror and the Second Nuclear Age” Feldman wrote, “If we do not want Islamic states — or anyone else for that matter — to have a nuclear capability, it is not necessarily because we consider them especially likely to bring on their own destruction by using it. It is, rather, that we do not want to cede some substantial chunk of our own global power to them.” We should have guessed: the USA wants to maintain its monopoly on nuclear technology! Where was such a rationale when Israel developed her nuclear program?
So, there has to be more convincing argument as to why America objects to Iran’s nuclear program, irrespective of whether or not it is for peaceful purpose. Again we turn to Feldman who provides the answer. He says, “The United States therefore has strong reason to block its enemy Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — not simply because Iran will seek to become a greater regional power, as any nation might do, but because the Islamic Republic of Iran as currently constituted is definitionally anti-American. There need not be a direct threat of Iranian first use against either the United States or Israel for this reason to weigh heavily. A nuclear Iran will be a stronger and more effective enemy in pursuing anti-American policies under the banner of Islam. That will not change until the Iranian state abandons either its Islamic identity or its association between Islam and anti-Americanism. Iran’s eagerness to acquire nuclear capacity need not be a result of a particularly Islamic motivation, but if and when Iran does have the bomb, its enhanced power and prestige will certainly be lent to policies that it conceives as promoting the Islamic interest.”
This is quite revealing in that for Iran to get the necessary blessings from both the USA and Israel, she has to virtually abandon Islam, since according to this Jewish scholar who had advised the Bush Administration Iran’s supposed “anti-Americanism” is linked with Islam. That is, abandoning anti-Americanism alone is not sufficient. Since Iran cannot abandon Islam, what choice there is left for her? Are we pushed by design of pro-Israeli advisers to justify another war? Such an uncompromising attitude from an “expert” advising the past American Administration is highly problematic and only reinvigorates the Muslim suspicion that America is at war with the world of Islam.
In his address on April 6 at the Turkish parliament, President Obama assured that his country “is not and will never be at war with Islam.” Only time will prove whether he can resist the pressure from Netanyahu, the Zionist hawks and pro-Israeli “experts” in his administration to go to war!