Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, Iran’s President Rouhani, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, all concur on this critical outcome of the interim agreement struck between Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers, announced early Sunday morning, 11/24/13: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program will continue apace.
United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group which seeks to thwart Iran’s ambition to obtain nuclear weapons, issued a press release highlighting the fundamental strategic failures of the interim 6-month pact:
By not agreeing to dismantle a single centrifuge, Iran has not rolled back its nuclear infrastructure and with the many centrifuges that it is currently operating, Iran retains the ability to breakout and produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon in as little as 2 months. At the same time, the carefully constructed sanctions architecture developed over decades has been significantly rolled back.
UANI argued further that the Geneva agreement provided Iran disproportionate sanctions relief, which would enable the Iranian economy (as gauged by the value of its currency, the rial) to recover to an extent that Iran’s nuclear weapons development (i.e., nuclear enrichment, and plutonium generation) programs, would be abetted by this reduction in economic pressures.
Six months from now we believe that the Iranian rial will have regained significant lost value and there will be far less economic pressure on the Iranian economy. And accordingly there will be far less pressure for Iran to actually dismantle a material number of centrifuges, much less end its nuclear enrichment and plutonium programs for which it has no practical purpose except to produce a nuclear weapon. If Iran’s industrial-size nuclear program is not rolled back, Tehran will inherently maintain the breakout capacity to build such a weapon
While a number of equally sobering assessments (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) have reiterated UANI’s tocsin of looming geo-strategic calamity regarding the so-called “P5 + 1” agreement just brokered with Iran, the ideology animating Iran’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons—apocalyptic, annihilationist Islamic Jew-hatred—was uniformly ignored.
For the past decade, in essays (here, and in a three part series, 1, 2, & 3), and my lengthy compendium, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, I have elucidated Shiite Iran’s half millennial history of Jew-hatred—its canonical Islamic origins, and the brutally oppressive, intermittently murderous impact of this doctrine on Iranian Jewry.
E. G. Browne, a Persianophilic British scholar, wrote the following words in the 1920s about the entire period of Shiite theocratic rule, from the ascension of the first Safavid shah, Ismail I, at the outset of the 16th century, through Reza Shah Pahlavi’s installation in 1925, marking the end of the Qajar dynasty (and punctuated by dramatic secular reforms):
The Mujtahids [authoritative interpreters of Islamic law] and Mulla are a great force in Persia and concern themselves with every department of human activity from the minutest detail of personal purification to the largest issues of politics.
These Shiite clerics emphasized the notion of the ritual uncleanliness (najis) of Jews in particular, but also of Christians, Zoroastrians, and others, as the cornerstone of relations toward non-Muslims. The impact of this najis conception was already apparent to European visitors to Persia during the reign Ismail I. The Portuguese traveler Tome Pires observed (between 1512 and 1515) that “Sheikh Ismail . . . never spares the life of any Jew,” while another European travelogue notes “the great hatred [Ismail I] bears against the Jews.”
Mohammad Baqer al-Majlisi (d. 1699) was perhaps the most influential cleric of the Safavid Shiite theocracy in Persia. For six years at the end of the 17th century, he functioned as the de facto ruler of Iran, making him the Ayatollah Khomeini of his era. By design, he wrote many works in Persian to disseminate key aspects of the Shia ethos among ordinary persons. In his Persian treatise “Lightning Bolts Against the Jews,” Al-Majlisi describes the standard humiliating requisites for non-Muslims living under sharia, first and foremost the blood-ransom jizya, or poll-tax, based on Koran 9:29.
He then enumerates six other restrictions relating to worship, housing, dress, transportation, and weapons, before outlining the unique Shiite impurity or najis regulations. It is these latter najis prohibitions which lead anthropology professor Laurence Loeb — who studied and lived within the Jewish community of Southern Iran in the early 1970s — to observe, “Fear of pollution by Jews led to great excesses and peculiar behavior by Muslims.” According to Al-Majlisi:
And, that they should not enter the pool while a Muslim is bathing at the public baths . . . If something can be purified, such as clothes, if they are dry, they can be accepted, they are clean. But if they [the dhimmis] had come into contact with those cloths in moisture they should be rinsed with water after being obtained. . . . It would also be better if the ruler of the Muslims would establish that all infidels could not move out of their homes on days when it rains or snows because they would make Muslims impure.
Walter Fischel, the pre-eminent modern historian of Iranian Jewry, has described, in addition, the severe hardships imposed upon Iranian Jews because of their image as sorcerers and practitioners of black magic, which was “as deeply embedded in the minds of the [Muslim] masses as it had been in medieval Europe” [emphasis added]. The consequences of these bigoted superstitions were predictable:
It was therefore easy to arouse their [the Muslim masses] fears and suspicions at the slightest provocation, and to accuse them [the Jews] of possessing cabalistic Hebrew writings, amulets, talismans, segulot, goralot, and refu’ot, which they [the Jews] were using against the Islamic authorities.
This hateful brew of dehumanizing “impurity” regulations, and the popular conception that Jews engaged in “sorcery,” fomented recurring Muslim anti-Jewish violence, including pogroms and forced conversions throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, which rendered areas of Iran Judenrein — free of Jews.
The so-called “Khomeini revolution,” which in 1979 deposed the secular, Western-oriented regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, was in reality a mere return in full (including najis regulations, etc.) to oppressive Shiite theocratic rule, the predominant form of Iranian governance during four centuries. Conditions for all non-Muslim religious minorities, particularly Jews, rapidly deteriorated. Although the demographic decline of Iranian Jewry after the creation of Israel was significant even before the revolution — from nearly 120,000 in 1948 to roughly 70,000 in 1978— the Jewish population dropped precipitously after Khomeini’s ascent to less than 9000 at present.
Ayatollah Khomeini’s views were the most influential in shaping the ideology of the revitalized Shiite theocracy, and his attitudes towards Jews — both before and after he assumed power — were particularly negative. Khomeini’s speeches and writings invoked a panoply of Jew-hating motifs, including orthodox interpretations of sacralized Muslim texts, and the Shiite conception of najis. More ominously, Khomeini’s rhetoric blurred the distinction between Jews and Israelis, reiterated paranoid conspiracy theories about Jews (both within Iran and beyond), and endorsed the annihilation of the Jewish state. The pillars of this continuous modern campaign of annihilationist anti-Semitism are the motifs from traditional Islamic Jew-hatred, including Islamic eschatology, grafted seamlessly to jihadism. These deep-seated Islamic theological motifs are further conjoined to Holocaust denial and the development of a nuclear-weapons program intended expressly for Israel’s eradication.
The conception of najis or ritual uncleanliness of the non-Muslim was clearly reaffirmed. Ayatollah Khomeini stated explicitly: “Non-Muslims of any religion or creed are najis.” Khomeini elaborated his views on najis and non-Muslims, with a specific reference to Jews:
Eleven things are unclean: urine, excrement, sperm, blood, a dog, a pig, bones, a non-Muslim man and woman, wine, beer, perspiration of a camel that eats filth. … The whole body of a non-Muslim is unclean, even his hair, his nails, and all the secretions of his body…The body, saliva, nasal secretions, and perspiration of a non-Muslim man or woman who converts to Islam automatically become pure. As for the garments, if they were in contact with the sweat of the body before conversion, they will remain unclean. … It is not strictly prohibited for a Muslim to work in an establishment run by a Muslim who employs Jews, if the products do not aid Israel in one way or another. However it is shameful [for a Muslim] to be under the orders of a Jewish departmental head.
Among non-believers, Iranian Shiite theology has always reserved a special hatred for Jews. Besides returning the small remnant of the Iranian Jewish community to a state of obsequious dhimmitude through execution and intimidation, Khomeini’s Iran has embraced jihad “as a central pillar of faith and action,” seen most notably in its unending campaign of vilification and proxy violence against the “Zionist entity,” Israel. For Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the destruction of Israel was an openly avowed policy driven by his eschatological beliefs. Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, summarized this annihilationist eschatology, redolent with Koranic Jew-hatred, in 2006:
The Jew is the most obstinate enemy (Koran 5:82) of the devout. And the main war will determine the destiny of mankind. . . . The reappearance of the Twelfth Imam will lead to a war between Israel and the Shia.
As characterized in the canonical hadith (collections of Mohammed’s words and deeds), Sunni and Shiite eschatology (end of times theology) highlight the Jews’ purported supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjal, the Muslim equivalent of the Antichrist. Other traditions state that the Dajjal is Jewish himself, and that at his appearance, he will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in robes and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjal is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered — even rocks and trees (except for the so-called gharkad tree) will deliver them up. Thus, according to a canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985), if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!” And the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology: On the day of resurrection, the vanquished Jews will be consigned to hellfire, which will expiate Muslims who have sinned, sparing them from this fate.
Professor Moshe Sharon recently provided a very lucid summary of the unique features of Shiite eschatology, its key point of consistency with Sunni understandings of this doctrine, and Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s deep personal attachment to “mahdism.”
Since the late ninth century, the Shiites have been expecting the emergence of the hidden imam-mahdi, armed with divine power and followed by thousands of martyrdom-seeking warriors. He is expected to conquer the world and establish Shiism as its supreme religion and system of rule. His appearance would involve terrible war and unusual bloodshed. Ahmadinejad, as mayor of Teheran, built a spectacular boulevard through which the mahdi would enter into the capital. There is no question that Ahmadinejad believes he has been chosen to be the herald of the mahdi. Shi’ite Islam differs from Sunni Islam regarding the identity of the mahdi. The Sunni mahdi is essentially an anonymous figure; the Shiite mahdi is a divinely inspired person with a real identity. However both Shiites and Sunnis share one particular detail about “the coming of the hour” and the dawning of messianic times: The Jews must all suffer a violent death, to the last one. Both Shi’ites and Sunnis quote the famous hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985) attributed to Muhammad.
Almost four decades ago Bat Ye’or published a remarkably insightful analysis of contemporary Islamic Jew-hatred, in particular, its annihilationist predilection. She hypothesized that the rise of Jewish nationalism—Zionism—posed a predictable, if completely unacceptable challenge to the Islamic order—jihad-imposed chronic dhimmitude for Jews—of apocalyptic magnitude, activating Islam’s eschatological motifs.
The pejorative characteristics of Jews as they are described in Muslim religious texts are applied to modern Jews. Anti-Judaism and anti-Zionism are equivalent—due to the inferior status of Jews in Islam, and because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad. Here the Pan-Arab and anti-Western theses that consider Israel as an advanced instrument of the West in the Islamic world, come to reinforce religious anti-Judaism.
Shortly after the election of Iran’s current “moderate” President Rouhani, the New York Times published a story on August 2, 2013 that was briefly revised later, and included this observation:
Ahead of his inauguration, Iran’s new president on Friday called Israel an “old wound” that should be removed, while tens of thousands of Iranians marched in support of Muslim claims to the holy city of Jerusalem. Hassan Rouhani’s remarks about Israel — his country’s archenemy — echoed longstanding views of other Iranian leaders. “The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed,” Rouhani was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency.
ISNA claimed later that they (and not Western editors) had mistranslated Rouhani’s quote and then issued corrections claiming he had merely called Israel a “sore” and had not said it should be removed–though one wonders what he thinks should be done with sores if they are not to be removed. The original Times story was then replaced with a tamer piece. But the argument that the alleged mistranslation should not be used to debunk Rouhani’s reputation as a moderate was undermined by the fact that, as even the revised Times story said, he had denounced Israel “in several books.”
Hassan Rouhani has a lengthy history in Iranian politics, having served as the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for more than 16 years. He was also a former deputy speaker of the parliament. During the Mohammad Khatami’s Presidency, in 2003, Rouhani became Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Rouhani maintained the post for two years before being replaced by Ali Larijani when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumed the presidency in 2005. He is also a member of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council, an advisory body to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as the Assembly of Experts, a body vested with the power to elect and remove the Supreme Leader. Rouhani is reputed to be close to both Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Chairman of Expediency Discernment Council.
Until his election to the presidency, Hassan Rouhani headed the Tehran-based think tank, the Center for Strategic Research. Rouhani, in a 2009 monograph published by the Center for Strategic Research, “Islamic Political Thought, Volume I: Theory,” extolled Iranian theocrat Ayatollah Khomeini’s alleged enlightened “vision” for Islamic governance, as follows (translation kindly provided by Amil Imani):
It appears distancing from any fundamental ideals of the Islamic Revolution, would only mean to be held in the prison of western politics, “politics without ethics” or a medieval European dungeon, “backward religious thoughts”…And we all have witnessed and taken notes of the warning of great architect of the Islamic government, Ayatollah Khomeini, that we avoid falling over that cliff…[T]he Islamic Revolution and its theorists, and above all, Imam Khomeini, were exemplary leaders who were the first projected, defined and implemented a superb divine Islamic model for all humans and all times.
Not surprisingly—except, perhaps to current Secretary of State John Kerry—and entirely consistent with policies of the Iranian regime since Khomeini’s retrograde “revolution,” Rouhani is a strong proponent of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, regardless of Western, or international objections, as evidenced by these multiple statements from 2004:
We will go ahead with confidence-building and will endeavor to build up our [nuclear] technical capability to restore our national rights in the context of the international conventions. This is our diplomacy: to proceed [in] both directions simultaneously.
We only agreed to suspend activities in those areas where we did not have technical problems. This is what they are saying now in their negotiations. We completed the Isfahan project, which is the UCF where yellowcake is converted into UF4 and UF6 during suspension. While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan, but we still had a long way to go to complete the project. In fact, by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work in Isfahan. Today, we can convert yellowcake into UF4 and UF6, and this is a very important matter. In fact, UF6 is what the centrifuges feed on; it is the feed material for centrifuges. Therefore, it was important for us to conclude that process.
I think we should not be in a great rush to deal with this issue. We should be patient and find the most suitable time to do away with the suspension. If we decide to start enrichment in the face of opposition by the West, we must find the best time and the most favorable conditions, and if we decide to work with the West, we must utilize all our capabilities and everything that is in our power to achieve our objectives. We should not rush into this. We must move very carefully, in a very calculated manner.
If one day we are able to complete the fuel cycle and the world sees that it has no choice, that we do possess the technology, then the situation will be different. The world did not want Pakistan to have an atomic bomb or Brazil to have the fuel cycle, but Pakistan built its bomb and Brazil has its fuel cycle, and the world started to work with them. Our problem is that we have not achieved either one, but we are standing at the threshold.
One of the members indicated here that all this should have been done in secret. This was the intention; this never was supposed to be in the open. But in any case, the spies exposed it. We did not want to declare all this.
Finally, the majority of Iranians—63% according to Pew polling data from February of this year (2013)—were willing to pay the high price of sanctions. Sixty-three percent claimed that Iran should continue to develop its nuclear program, even given the scale of sanctions imposed on their country because of such efforts. No wonder Iranian public reaction has been effusively positive now that the feckless Obama administration has proven willing to abandon even this tame disincentive to the popular sentiment for Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Given the ad nauseam expressed genocidal intentions toward Israel of the current ruling Iranian theocracy, the mass support of the Iranian populace for the nuclear weapons capable of fulfilling this annihilationist goal, and current U.S. “negotiating” policies, Israel must destroy Iran’s nuclear arms production facilities by whatever means necessary.