Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ahmadinejad vs. Israel, Palestine—and Iran

The Iran File

We return again to the matter of Iran; its importance in world affairs cannot be denied. In this article, regular contributor George Jochnowitz looks at the dangers of a leader who acts according to his idea of virtue. In the case of the leader of Iran, the virtuous act would be an attempt, G-d forbid, to destroy Israel. "The country that would suffer most of all, of course, would be Iran. An atomic war could easily kill tens of millions of Iranians. Ahmadinejad is willing to take the risk," Prof Jochnowitz writes.

by George Jochnowitz

The International Atomic Energy Agency has reported that sanctions have failed to slow Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, the program is speeding up, and Iran is producing nuclear weapons in a location invulnerable to Israeli attack.

This is not much of a surprise. Former President Ali Akhbar Rafsanjani, in the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) sermon given on December 14, 2001, said that if one day the world of Islam comes to possess nuclear weapons, Israel could be destroyed. Rafsanjani said that the use of a nuclear bomb against Israel would leave nothing standing, but that retaliation, no matter how severe, would merely do damage to the world of Islam (reported by MEMRI Special Dispatch Series No. 325).

Sanctions, shmanctions, say Iran’s leaders. Ahmadinejad, time and again, has spoken of wiping Israel off the map. If moderate Rafsanjani was not afraid of retaliation, no matter how severe, extremist Ahmadinejad certainly has no fears. Would he sacrifice the lives of tens of millions of Iranians in order to destroy Israel and all its people—Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druse, Bahai and African animist? Of course he would. Could Iran gain anything by this action? Of course not. “Virtue”—dying in a jihad while killing Jews—takes precedence over practicality.

Persia has an extremely long history of friendship with Jews. The Book of Ezra 6:14 tells us that, “according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes, king of Persia” the Jews were permitted and enabled to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple.

Jews in Iran prospered during the days of Shah Reza Pahlavi, and Israel had good trade and diplomatic relations with Iran. When Khomeini came to power in 1979, things changed. Israel became the “little Satan.” The Islamists said that they had to oppose Israel and support the Palestinians. This was odd. Iranians have never had good relationships with the Arab world. Most Palestinians are Sunnis, and Iran is a Shia state. Iran didn’t become anti-Israel in order to help the Palestinians; instead, Iran became nominally pro-Palestinian in order to oppose Israel.

If—G-d forbid—Iran succeeds in destroying Israel, that will be the end of any talk of Palestinian independence, not only in Iran but all over the world. Nowadays, people speak of the plight of the Palestinians. That plight would turn into a catastrophe if there were no Israel. The neighboring Arab states would divide up the territory. They would persecute the Palestinians as they always have, by denying them citizenship, exploiting them, letting them live for decades in refugee camps. During the course of an atomic war, Jerusalem might get hit by a nuclear bomb, which would destroy the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque forever. Iran wouldn’t care. They would accept it as the price for the virtuous act of eliminating Israel from the face of the earth.

The country that would suffer most of all, of course, would be Iran. An atomic war could easily kill tens of millions of Iranians. Ahmadinejad is willing to take the risk.

Let us think of Hitler. The world’s atomic scientists lived in Germany (Einstein), Hungary (Teller and Szilard), and Italy (Fermi). Fermi was not a Jew, but since he was married to a Jew, he was Jewish under the Nuremberg Laws. Hitler at first didn’t know that he needed atomic weapons, but eventually he learned. Did he try to use Jewish scientists? Of course not. “Virtue” came first. When Soviet forces were advancing, Hitler needed railroads to supply or evacuate his soldiers. “Virtue” came first, however, and the trains were used to rush some of the remaining Jews in Budapest to Auschwitz.

The most evil acts in history were never committed for practical reasons. They were always irrational, done for “virtue.” The most dangerous enemies are those that have no rational goals.

George Jochnowitz was born in New York City, in 1937.  He became aware of different regional pronunciations when he was six, and he could consciously switch accents as a child. He got his Ph.D. in linguistics from Columbia University and taught linguistics at the College of Staten Island, CUNY.  His area of specialization was Jewish languages, in particular, Judeo-Italian dialects.  As part of a faculty-exchange agreement with Hebei University in Baoding, China, he was in China during the Tiananmen Massacre. He can be reached at

Copyright ©2012. George Jochnowitz. All Rights Reserved.  This post originally published in the algemeiner (Sept 02, 2012 ). It is republished here with the permission of both the author and the algemeiner.

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