Tuesday, March 02, 2010

This Purim, Stand Up to a Modern Haman

(Tragically, this article is now 4 years old. (It appeared in the Canadian Jewish News in 2006). Nothing's happened since; the U.S and Europe keep talking, and the time bomb keeps ticking. God help us.)

Would he, and could he?

It seems that the most important question on the world stage today is: How do we defend civilization against tasteless cartoons? And so the world is busy searching for protection from hazardous forms of animation, with the E.U.’s bureaucrats looking for new ways to revive medieval blasphemy laws.

Unfortunately, the international community is asking the wrong questions. There are two questions that must be asked, and the answer to them could possibly change the course of world history:

Would he, and could he?

It is easy to dismiss the Iran’s ultra-conservative regime led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Their public pronouncements are at times bizarre and ridiculous. Khamenei believes that the West is trying to destroy Iran with miniskirts. When a plane crashed in Tehran last December, killing 108, Ahmadinejad said “But what is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow.". And the official press agency, IRNA, reported a year and a half ago that a woman in the southeastern Iranian city of Iranshahr “gave birth to a live gray frog accompanied with mud”.

Yet the Ahmadinejad regime’s bizarre beliefs are precisely why the world must ask the question: would he use nuclear weapons?

Ahmadinejad is drawn to violence. He started his political career in 1979 as one of the hostage takers at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. When the Tehran stock market plummeted after his election, Ahmadinejad told his cabinet “if we were permitted to hang two or three persons, the problems with the stock exchange would be solved forever”. And in Ahmadinejad’s world, the pinnacle of life is death. He constantly extols martyrdom, and once remarked “Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom?”

Ahmadinejad follows a radical theology. He follows an extremist Shiite view that believes in “mahdaviat”, preparing the world for the 12th Mahdi, a saviour who according Shiite belief will bring the end of times. Mahdaviat is an obsession of Ahmadinejad’s. As Tehran’s mayor, he built an avenue to welcome the Mahdi, and has recently allocated $17 million dollars to build a mosque in honor of the Mahdi. When he addressed the U.N. last September, Ahmadinejad ended his speech with a prayer for the coming of the Mahdi.

These beliefs are dangerous. As Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor points out, “this presidential obsession with the Mahdaviat yields a certitude that leaves little room for compromise”. And of course preparing for the Mahdi means getting rid of what Ahmadinejad calls “the oppressor world”, namely Israel, the United States and the West.

Ahmadinejad hates Jews and Israel. He is the world’s most prominent Holocaust denier, and Holocaust denial is now a staple of Iranian media. Recently, Iranian state TV has included “news” pieces affirming the veracity of the blood libels and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Last December, he sponsored a conference on a “world without Zionism”, in which he vowed that Israel would be “wiped off the map”. In addition, he made it clear to the crowd that “this goal is attainable”.

Maclean’s magazine got it right when it called Ahmadinejad “the scariest man on earth”. There is no question that this radical, violent man who hates Israel and the West would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons to achieve his goals. Indeed, a recent report from Iran on the MEMRI website reports that a new fatwa has been issued by influential Iranian clerics stating that "shari'a does not forbid the use of nuclear weapons."

It is clear Ahmadinejad would use nuclear weapons. The only question left is:

Could he use nuclear weapons?

Unfortunately, Ahmadinejad may have a nuclear weapon sooner than you think. His government has recently resumed uranium enrichment and will no longer allow snap International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of its nuclear facilities. And recently, Ali Larijani, the secretary of Iranian Supreme National Security Council, has stated that Iran is already capable of conducting a nuclear reaction. Iran is not all that far away from a nuclear weapon.

Unquestionably, time is short. Unfortunately, the attention span of most Canadians is even shorter. Much like a pre-9/11 Ossama Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad is unknown to most Canadians. It is time for us to speak up, create international awareness, and stop the scariest man on earth.

To this end, four concerned activists, Itay Gadot, Rabbi Reuven Poupko, Professor Gil Troy and myself, have formed the Coalition on Iran (CI), an ad hoc group of activists concerned about this dangerous regime. We are organizing rallies on Tuesday, March 14 in cities all across Canada. If you are interested in organizing a rally in your community, contact Itay at info@betar.ca.
March 14th commemorates the Jewish holiday of Purim, a day in which another man from Persia, the viceroy Haman, had his plans to destroy the Jews thwarted. Ahmadinejad is a modern day Haman. There’s no question he would use nuclear weapons to achieve his goals. Let’s make sure we stop him now, before it’s too late.

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