Ahmadinejad American Jews Iran Israel

Rallying against Ahmadinejad will accomplish…what, exactly?

There has been a loud, justified uproar over the fact that Sarah Palin was invited to speak at a rally of Jewish groups at the UN this Monday, an event prompted by the appearance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the General Assembly. The invitation to Palin has been rescinded, but, as the Jewish Week put it, “A broad-based community rally urging tougher action against Iran turned into a political hot potato this week as some participants got cold feet over what they saw as the partisan skewing of the event.”

While it is disturbing that Palin was invited, I also have another concern.

What is the point of this rally? What, precisely, will it accomplish?

Are the organizers trying to show world leaders that Israel’s supporters in the U.S. are angry and worried about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran? Jeez, what a surprise! Are they trying to demonstrate that American Jews are deeply offended by some of Ahmadinejad’s comments and threats? I think that point has been made very clearly (and loudly, and often) over the last few years, don’t you?

Is there anyone who follows global issues who does not know that the organized American Jewish community is mortified by the Iranian president, and that much of it wants tougher action on Iran?

One of the self-professed goals of the stop-Iranian-nukes movement is to show that this is not just an Israeli issue. That is a worthy goal. The security of other nations would be threatened if Iran developed nuclear weapons. I have made that point on this blog, while also expressing concern about the pre-emptive war fetishists who have their sights set on Iran. Diplomacy that includes more carrots and less bellicose public rhetoric is recommended by a good many sensible people. That does not negate the fact that trying to stop Iran from having nuclear-tipped missiles makes sense for the U.S, EU, Russia, Turkey, Jordan and Iran’s other neighbors, not just Israel.

But it is hard to believe that this message is the one that will be remembered from Monday’s rally, no matter how hard the organizers try to convey it. The Jewish Week notes that “thousands of people are expected to attend and give voice to deep concerns about Iran’s militant threats against Israel.” Even if non-Jewish figures speak, even if the notion of a broad global threat gets repeated incessantly, the meta-message here is that American Jews–and a few non-Jews–who are worried about Israel are getting together and screaming at Iran’s president, nothing more.

On Monday, rally participants will feel that they are taking a stand that is worth taking, they will be raising their voices because…well, uh, it is important to raise their voices. They will be telling Ahmadinejad that they don’t like him because…well, uh…it is important to tell Ahmadinejad that they don’t like him. But, especially now that the presidential race has been drawn into it, the rally will turn the entire Iranian issue into an American Jewish-Israeli issue, rather than a matter that should be worrisome to everyone else. That doesn’t seem like a productive use of energy, noise and resources.

12 thoughts on “Rallying against Ahmadinejad will accomplish…what, exactly?

  1. I’m not a fan of rallies.

    Communication is a better path.

    “Consider this”

    I’ve been intrigued for a long time by a thesis of brain/culture consistency that describes how political ideologies form around three themes:

    1. Place – Described as a “geo-sentiment”. It is described as most consistent with the portions of the brain that are common to reptiles and all more complex species brain structure. It is territorial, and very secondarily social within that territory.

    2. Community/affinity – Described as “socio-sentiment”. Its described as most consistent with the common mammalian brain functions, which identify with a community, and is charaterized by sentimental attachment. Cows, horses, dogs, humans, care for their family, form intimate mutually dependant bonds.

    3. Humanism/idealism – Its described as unique to the function of the cerebral cortex, capable of imagination, speculation, modeling. “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.

    All people, all communities exhibit mixes of these three.

    A community functions in a body, and in a context. There is no such thing as an ideal. There is only ideal in practise.

    As such, the most humane communities are the ones that practise universal consideration for others in place, and in society. (By place and society, I mean in a physical location, and in a specific “tribal” community.)

    I see that vision in the most mature orthodox AND civilist Zionists, and many Muslims. I see the exclusive and mean shadows of visions in the most immature orthodox, civilists, Palestinian nationalists.

    “Love thy neighbor as thyself” present or absent, is the difference.

  2. Mr. Fleshler,

    You are dodging the most important and troubling aspect of this story. The people rallying are motivated mainly by their love of a foreign country. They are trying to convince other Americans that stopping Iran is just as important to America as it is to that foreign country. But the rally organizers don’t really believe that. What you are complaining about is they are not doing a skilful job at deception and subterfuge.

  3. Dan, I don’t understand why you find it so hard to understand that at least some people get upset at a leaders who , over and over, says “Israel is a cancer”, “Israel is scum”, “Israel is a disease against all of humanity”, “Israel is going to disappear, believe me”. You don’t think that is at least worrying? Hitler said all of these things. People said at the time “politicians say all sorts of things, do you really think he could do something about it?”. Why do so many people condemn those who are worried about it as “warmongers”, but they guy who says it gets off without criticism?

  4. The parallel that I see between Iran and Germany ISN’T that Iran threatens to annihilate all Jews, but that it seeks become a large player in the region, and not so much on the basis of what it contributes culturally or economically, but with its weapons development, on the basis of who it can threaten.

    China, India, Russia are the big players. Iran, Pakistan, Israel are smaller players.

    Israel has the benefit of being able to link with Europe, Mediterranean, Turkey, and Near East. Iran’s center is further east.

    My suspicion is that India is not happy about Iran prospectively acquiring nuclear weapons, and that has contributed to the recent cooperation between India and Israel. (Prior, India identified as a non-alligned and partially communist country. When I visited India in 1986, I couldn’t travel directly from Israel as they didn’t have diplomatic relations, and had to travel through Cairo.)

  5. Iran genuinely feels and is isolated. It does not have convivial relations with many of the Sunni oil states, nor with India, off and on with Pakistan, reluctant friendships with China.

    That explains some its diplomatic awkwardness.

    Historically, Iran has made hay with seeking validity by the extent that it can stick it to Israel, same as other contending factions.

    IF Israel proceeds to make peace with the Arab world as represented by the Arab League, Iran would be a far far reduced threat, with only leverage among out and out fanatics, and no leverage among those Muslims that hold a conditional outlook towards Israel.

    Y Ben David.

    You are wrong in assuming that all Arabs permanently hate and will not tolerate Israel. Its an innaccurate assessment. For many it is a conditional attitude, and conditional on actions, attitudes and policies that Israel does have the capacity to realize.

    Who knows how many feel conditionally accepting, or to what degree. But, its definitely NOT none.

    That Abbas is in sincere discussion on the two-state principle is a STRONG indicator of significant and committed support for normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states, and Arab people.

  6. “Iran genuinely feels and is isolated. It does not have convivial relations with many of the Sunni oil states, nor with India, off and on with Pakistan, reluctant friendships with China.
    That explains some its diplomatic awkwardness”


    That sounds like circular reasoning. Wasn’t it one diplomatic faux pas after another that lead Iran to this perceived (or real) state of isoalation?

    By the way Dan, I too often question the benefit of rallies. However, Y Ben-David does pose an intriguing rhetorical question

    “Why do so many people condemn those (rallyers – ZL) who are worried about it as ‘warmongers’, but the guy who says it gets off without criticism?”

    I don’t think he posed that one directly at you since you have, of course, leveled the criticism at Ahmadinejad.

  7. Another interesting, related question:

    Why do some of the same people who mobilized against “Star Wars” during the Reagan years and were part of the anti-nuke movement now casually accept the possibility of a nuclear-armed theocracy in the Persian Gulf, and dismiss the importance of the arms race that will result from it?

  8. Dan,

    The American taxpayer is not being asked to foot the bill for Iran’s nuclear efforts. American taxpayers were asked to foot the bill for SDI/Star Wars. If the U.S. joins Israel in attacking the Iranian nuclear infrastructure militarily or is perceived by Iran as facilitating such action, the U.S. will face retaliation in the form of greater Iranian aid to terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan and possibly terrorist attacks against American targets in Europe. The latter would be similar to those mounted by Libya in the late 1980s following a naval battle between U.S. and Libyan naval craft in the Mediterrean Sea in 1986.

  9. “Why do some of the same people who mobilized against “Star Wars” during the Reagan years and were part of the anti-nuke movement now casually accept the possibility of a nuclear-armed theocracy in the Persian Gulf, and dismiss the importance of the arms race that will result from it?”

    Is this an irony? Or, are there new voices?

  10. Richard, Dan,

    I don’t believe it’s an irony since many of the US and Western opponents of “Star Wars” included factions that proposed unilateral disarmament on the part of the U.S. and NATO while the U.S.S.R., ostensibly, could keep their arsenals intact.

  11. WEll, Ahmenidijad made his presentation to a mixed reception at the UN.

    He was in the room during Peres’ speech, and I think I read that Peres heard his speech directly.

    He repeated the line of reasoning that regarded Israel as not existing, excepts perhaps as a big mosquito, and cited that Zionists (financeers, including in America) were the root of all the world’s troubles.

    Similar to the gamut of fascistic ideology throughout history.

    Prospective racists ask, “maybe its true, maybe the reason that the same arguments continue is that they are true. Maybe, a small group of puppeteers do ruthlessly conspire to control the flow of money, to flow of information, especially virus-like whispering in the ears of leaders.”

    And Netanyahu (and complicit liberals) site the parallel between mid-30’s Germany, seeking to increase its military following decades of humiliating sequestration to affirm its sovereignty.

    Asking the acquiescence of Europe, noting the guilt of historically isolating such a large participant in the affairs of its region for a couple decades, and then overly relaxing any accountability to the point of acquiescing to militarism and periodic active aggression on its neighbors, using the suppression sub-populations as a pretext. (Sudetan Germans analagous to Shiite Lebanese).

    And, the left asks that Iran be accepted (acquiescence). And the right asks that Iran be bombed (aggression).

    And, the US is becoming powerless to influence the debate, to lead the debate on balanced civility, as we’ve broken the precedent by invading Iraq unilaterally without present cause.

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