The Jewish Equation

Dude, you may laugh about our futile attempts to have a Jewish state in this hole, but nothing is funnier than the Iranian “democracy”.
We do have a demographic problem, even if the Palestinians will have a state that will be a good neighbor, which i doubt because they want our land. We have a big Arab population in Israel that has full rights, including voting. And they do not feel as they belong here, they want Israel to go away so they can live in Palestine.
The solution of 2 states for 2 peoples doesn’t attract them, they want either one Arab state, or two states, one purely Arab, and the other multinational. It’s not just about territory, listen to what Hammas is saying, they want to destroy Israel to the ground. But I assure you that if they do, or if you do, we can guarantee mutual destruction, if you know what I mean. Better leave us alone and mind your own business, it’s a shame that a great country like Iran, with all its oil and gas, has to threaten small countries just to get some attention and some spare dollars from Russia or US.

The above was a comment by a reader on my previous post. First, let me thank you for leaving the post. There are a few interesting points here:

1. Let’s just not laugh at each other. Iran is not and cannot be a democracy with the status quo and I have eluded to that previously. But it certainly has what it takes to get one, and is closer to getting it than almost any of its neighbors. We did have a democracy in 1953, but the CIA and the MI5 made sure it wouldn’t last more than a year…

2. My understanding is that the Arab citizens in Israel are not treated equally with the Jews at all. I believe that if Israel really wants to get these people to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, it has to CONVINCE them, not force them into accepting it. You can’t convince Arabs of Israel’s legitimacy by force, but by pleasing them, treating them equally, letting them hold high-ranking political offices. I assure you that the day Israel does that even the need for a two-state solution may disappear. You CAN get Arabs to live under a truly democratic Israel which treats its citizens equally.

3. You said we should mind our own business. I couldn’t agree more! I have said a zillion times in this blog that I think Ahmadinejad is a moron. We have lots of issues ourselves to take care of. Arab-Israeli issues are Arabs’ Israelis’ business. And mind you, this is not America’s or the EU’s business either.

Even though I disagree with much of what the IRI says about Israel. I do agree that there’s a fundamental issue that is always being ignored. The issue being the fact that Palestinians are paying the price for somebody else’s crimes. I understand the kind of scar that WWII left on the Jewish community, but let’s not forget who committed the crimes. Were it the Arab Muslims or European Christians? You want to prove that Jews are not the victims of history? Go after the folks that victimized you, not the ones that had nothing to do with it. You’ve been fighting the wrong enemy since day one, and your scars will not heal until you claim your rights where they were taken away from you.

The Jews have produced the greatest geniuses of man’s history, I wonder why they can’t solve their own simple equation.

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Ahmadinejad does NOT want to nuke Israel (2)

Ahmadinejad’s language may be violent. But listening to his statements and those of his foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki, this sounds like the gist of what he is trying to say,

If Israel was to live up to its own ambition of being a Jewish, democratic state, it could not rule over a Palestinian Arab population that would one day be its numerical equal. Yet that is the statistical situation today, with equal numbers of Jews and Arabs in the historic land of Palestine. If Israel is truly democratic, and grants all those people the vote, it will no longer have a Jewish majority. If it remains Jewish, by excluding those people, then it is no longer democratic. This is the so-called demographic argument, the unavoidable choice for Israelis left by 1967: either you hold on to the West Bank and Gaza or you remain a democratic state with a Jewish majority: you can’t do both.

…occupation corrodes the occupier, slowly but unmistakably.

Interestingly, the quoted text is from Jonathan Freedland’s latest comment in the Guardian, not an IRI representative. Ahmadinejad takes this one step further and says that if democracy were to rule, there wouldn’t be a Jewish territory on the Palestinian lands any longer, and thinks that this will lead to the demise of the Jewish state the way the Soviet Union died out.

Again, I strongly believe that based on what he has been saying about Israel, his views are based on abstract arguments and not a concrete plan to destroy Israel. However, there are some serious and well-measured intentions behind the apparatus that is distorting his views and advertising his out-of-context statement about Israel on a daily basis.

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Ahmadinejad does NOT want to nuke Israel

That’s right. Despite what we keep hearing in the media incessantly, Ahmadinejad is not aiming for the destruction of Israel. Ahmadinajad’s “Israel must be wiped off the map” quote is very likely to break quite a few records and be one of the most quoted sentences of the century. With the purposeful support of the media and Western politicians, it now seems inevitable to leap from what he said to a plan to nuke Israel.

What has not been mentioned, and what I would like to bring up, is that in my opinion, Ahmadinejad is no friend of Israel and does dream of a day when you would not see a country by that name on the map. Yet this can, by no means, be translated into a plan by him to destroy Israel.

I hope that when posterity reads Ahmadinejad’s famous quote, they will also be able to read his own words as to what he had in mind as a way for Israel to be “wiped off the map”. In his own words,

“As the Soviet Union disappeared, the Zionist regime will also vanish.”

Ahmadinejad clearly finds Israeli expansion at the expense of the Palestinian people wholly unacceptable. To this end, he talks about the need for regime change. Since the Soviet Union was not atom-bombed out of existence, there is no necessary military connotation in what he said. The Soviet Union was wiped off the map through no foreign interference, but because of the conflicts and defects that were inherent to its communist-Stalinist system. In Ahmadinejad’s view, as he has clearly stated above and in his other underreported comments, the “Zionist regime” will vanish because of flaws in its foundations, what it is and what it has done.

Please note that Ahmadinejad has never used Iran’s nuclear program and his views about Israel in the same context. If you are really interested, you may spend a little bit of time reading his own comments, not what have others inferred, and you will realize to what extent his views have been distorted to the advantage of certain political trends and ideologies.

Before I am accused of anything, let me state clearly that even though I do not think Ahmadinejad is anywhere close to being another Hitler, I do think he is a moron for feeding right-wing propaganda with his statements about the “Zionist regime.” I do NOT see a day when Israel is “wiped off the map.” I think Israel is there to stay, and so is Palestine. (And that’s about as much as I care about the aforementioned nations and their conflicts!)

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Iran and U.S. Will Negotiate

It is oddly underreported that the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has supported Iran-U.S. talks over Iraq. Even though this is meant to be about Iraq only, it is nevertheless the first high-level diplomatic encounter between Iran and the U.S. since 1979, and some talks over Iran-U.S. issues will be inevitable.

These talks may open the door to more serious talks about Iran-U.S. relations depending on the impressions that each party leaves on the other.

Here’s a summary and what the U.S. and Iran may ask for during these talks and what Iran can bring to the table (no words on what the U.S. will bring to the table, though!).

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On Islam and Democracy

There has been a never-ending debate about whether or not democracy would be compatible with Islam and vice versa. Many people have expressed their opinion on this. Lately, an Iranian band, Kiosk, have written a song calling religious democracy (i.e. Islamic democracy, in their particular case), “Pizza-ye Ghormeh Sabzi” (a funny and nonsensical mixture of a Western meal, pizza, and a traditional Iranian plate, Ghormeh Sabzi, which is a stew).

Before saying what I really think about the compatibility of Islam and democracy, I would like to distinguish two different contexts in which the two might clash.

The first case is one in which an Islamist party is to function as a political force, and potentially get a popular mandate for governance. The latest events in Turkey, where the moderately-Islamist party AKP was to gain control over the country’s presidency is one such example. Another example would be the election of Hamas in Palestine by popular vote.

In both such cases the process in which these parties were elected was completely democratic. If these parties do not violate the principles of a democratic constitution (which is likely to include some secular principles) their power will be completely legitimate, and their access to political influence would not be a violation of the principles of democracy, but an example where they are being very well-applied. Democracy is a system of government in which the rulers are selected by popular vote. A democratic constitution must allow for any party of any background to have access to power, that includes an Islamist party.

The suggestions by some that Islamist governments are illegitimate and undemocratic is absolute bullcrap and has no relevance whatsoever. A governing body in Turkey or Palestine gets its mandate from the majority Muslim population of those countries and not leaders of the so-called civilized nations of the West or their mouthpieces.

The second case in which democracy and Islam may come into contact is, as is the case in the Islamic Republic of Iran, at the moment where basic laws and regulations of the state are to be defined in the constitution. It is at this level where Islam and democracy are, in my opinion, significantly at odds.

Basically, in a democracy the governing body is elected by popular vote and is to apply the rules defined by the people of a nation as the fundamental terms of their social and political association. In Shari’a, however, the sovereign is the person who has access to God’s orders and is to apply them in society and make sure society functions on the basis of those God-given principles. The person who has such a privilege is called Velayat-e Faqih in Shi’ism. So in this type of government, the society functions not on the basis of social conventions, but how Velayat-e faqih reads, understands, interprets and applies the Almighty’s orders.

How can the sovereign get its mandate at the same time form God and the nation? That is the central dilemma and the topic of the debate. The Islamic Republic’s approach is a system in which Velyat-e Faqih (or the Supreme Leadership) has the ultimate say in all matters, while the nation gets CONSULTED on a large number of, but not all, issues.

A closer look at the constitution of the Islamic Republic would reveal a circularity with Velayat-e Faqih at the center and the people running constantly, and in vain, around the circumference. Here’s how it works:

1. In the Islamic Republic, the legislator is the parliament (or ‘Majlis’) whose members are elected by citizens.

2. Members of the parliament have to be approved by the Guardian Council before the elections on the basis of their loyalty to the Islamic Republic Constitution and Velayat-e Faqih, as well as some personal qualifications (e.g. education, etc.)

3. The member of the Guardian Council are selected directly by Velayat-e Faqih and consist of 6 lawyers and 6 clergymen.

4. The bills passed by the parliament have to be approved by the Gurdian Council on the basis of their agreement with the Constitution and the rule of Velayat-e Faqih.

5. Velayat-e Faqih itself is selected by the Assembly of Experts, composed of clergymen, elected through popular vote.

6. As is the case in the Parliamentary elections as well as municipal etc., the potential candidates for the membership of the Assembly of Experts must be approved by the Guardian Council.

In summary, the source of all laws and regulations in the Islamic Republic is Velayat-e Faqih which is selected by the elected Assembly of Experts. But the candidates for the Assembly of Experts have to be clergymen AND indirectly (through the Guardian Council) approved by Velayat-e Faqih before election. In other words, one Valy-e Faqih (the Supreme Leader, currently Khamenei) selects the next one, despite all the elections.

The Islamic Republic may not be the best example of the concurrence of Islam and democracy, but the tension and circularity evident in its Constitution shows that Islam and democracy may never be a happy couple without serious compromises on the part of one or the other or both.

That said, if the people of Iran where to elect a party to power today under a democratic and non-Islamic system, it would likely be an Islamist (and perhaps ironically socialist) party. And that wold be completely legitimate for a country where Islam is the religion of the vast majority and has run deep in many people’s beliefs and worldview. The secular intellectuals are and have always been out of touch with the masses, giving room to smarter extremists to maneuver.

The possibility of an Islamist party in power, governing on the basis of a democratic and somewhat secular constitution is the only real and sustainable alternative that can be offered to any Islamic nation from Turkey to Iran to Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to Indonesia and so on. Indeed, the AKP has done an excellent job in Turkey and will continue to do so if not suppressed by the secular fascists.

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Europe Going Down America’s Path

One could argue that if Sarkozy ran for presidency in the U.S. right now, he would be lucky to win a single state beyond Texas and Arizona! While Americans are trying hard to get themselves out of the quagmire that Bush and the Neo-Cons dragged them into, the French have elected a man that will prove to be the most right wing (in terms of American politics, not the French system!), the most feared and the most hateful person ever wanting to be the president of France after Jean-Marie Le Pen. Nicolas Sarkozy, if successful in pursuing his plans and winning in the upcoming legislative elections, could turn the French government into a neo-fascist, totalitarian and inefficient state– albeit with some economic improvements at a high cost.

This trend of repeating America’s mistakes after 9/11 and pursuing hardline and aggressive policies on the basis of rash judgments (something the Europeans rightly resisted when America was committed to the cause), are not limited to France. Germany may be going down the same path with Angela Merkel, as well as Britain with the success of the Tories.

[Scotland is a nice exception, though, with the SNP’s outstanding success and its promise to give Her Majesty some well-deserved spanking.]

The question is just why Europe is going down America’s path post-9/11 while America itself is trying hard to get out of the mess. Could it be the incredibly overblown fear of Islamism and terrorism? I think that might be one reason: Immediately after it was announced that Sarkozy had won the elections, one of the most popular comments in BBC’s “Your Reaction” section celebrated Sarkozy’s win as yet another way to “stop the expansion of Islamism in Europe.”

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I do have a life…

Some readers here leave comments every once in a while, asking me to “get a life.” I usually pay no attention, but just for the record, I DO have a life, a very prolific life too, one that I pursue with a goal, a plan and one that is full of success. When somebody has an opinion and cares to spend a few minutes every once in a while sharing it with others, it doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t have a life. In fact, it usually means that he/she doesn’t even let those otherwise unproductive minutes of their life to go to waste. The minutes that I’ve spent writing this blog are the ones most people easily waste.