Iranian liberal attacks pro-Rouhani propaganda of the Guardian’s Saeed Kamali-Dehghan

There has been a just degree of criticism directed towards the Guardian over the results of their readers’ poll on the Nobel Peace Prize in which 76% of respondents chose Hassan Rouhani from a list (compiled by their journalists) which included the brave Pakistani girl - shot by the Taliban for advocating on behalf of girls’ education – named Malala Yousafzai.

poll

Rouhani was nominated by Saeed Kamali-Dehghan, who has served as one of the paper’s chief promoters of the lie that the new Iranian president is a “moderate” despite Rouhani’s involvement in terror attacks abroad and his role in crushing the pro-democracy movement at home.  

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Responding to the Guardian readers’ poll was a liberal Iranian blogger (currently living in London) named Potkin Azarmehr (whose blog serves as a platform for the voice of secular pro-democracy activists) who argued that the nomination of Rouhani evokes, for many liberal Iranians, memories of Ayatollah Khalkhali of Iran’s ‘Soviet puppet‘ Communist Party (Tudeh) after the 1979 revolution.

More than three decades ago, the Tudeh Party, Iran’s Soviet backed Communist Party, or as the party leaders liked to refer to their outfit in their publications, “Iran Workers Leading Progressive Party“, nominated the mad Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali as one of their parliamentary candidates for his “uncompromising stand against US imperialism”.

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Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali

Haj Mehdi Araghi…the first governor of Qasr prison after the 1979 revolution, complained that “this guy [Khalkhali] executes people first and then makes up their charges” and when others also criticised Khalkhali’s swift executions and suggested to him that he may be killing innocents, Khalkhali replied without showing any emotion “If they are innocent, then they will go to heaven, so what’s the problem?”.

One of Khalkhali’s victims was a family friend who was arrested on his way to work, where an anti-government demonstration had taken place nearby. The family friend had nothing to do with the demonstration, his second child was born a few days earlier and all he thought about was raising his children.  He was killed without a trial, because Khalkhali had a quota to kill 100 people that day.

Such was the “progressive” anti-imperialist nature of the candidate nominated by “Iran Workers Leading Progressive Party”!

A Wall St. Journal editorial in 2006 noted the following about a famous photo taken during the Islamist reign of terror, in which Khalkhali participated, which claimed the lives of an estimated 500 ‘enemies of the state’ in August 1979 alone. 

On Aug. 27, 1979, two parallel lines of 11 men formed on a field of dry dirt in Sanandaj, Iran. One group wore blindfolds. The other held rifles. The command came in Farsi to fire: “Atesh!” Behind the soldier farthest to the right, a 12th man also shot, his Nikon camera and Kodak film preserving in black and white a mass execution.

Taken seven months after Islamic radicals overthrew the U.S.-backed Shah, the photo remains one of the most famous images of Iran. It is an icon of government terror…

Here’s the disturbing photo:

Firing Squad Executing Rebels

Iran continues to execute more of its own citizens per capita than any country in the world, a punishment even meted out to some for the “crime” of homosexual conduct.

“While Rouhani was promoting a softer image of Iran internationally during his visit to New York two weeks ago, it was business as usual on the domestic front with scores of prisoners put to death following unfair trials,” said the director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.  

Indeed, since Rouhani’s inauguration on Aug. 4th, 125 Iranians have been executedmany, according to some reports, after forced confessions and torture. This man was publicly hanged in Karaj (west of Tehran) on August 18.

iran

Towards the end of his post about Rouhani and the Guardian, Azarmehr wrote the following:

Three decades after, Saeed Kamali-Dehghan, a refugee Leftist journalist from the Islamic Republic, has nominated Hasan Rouhani for the Nobel Peace Prize candidate. The spirit of the Tudeh Party lives on in many of Iran’s Leftist “intellectuals”.

Whilst the Guardian was busy publishing three stories on Iranians’ right to wear blue jeans, noticeably absent was any op-ed – yet alone an official editorial – championing the right of Iranians not to be subjected to such cruel executions, as the spirit of “anti-imperialist” propaganda lives on within the ideological territory known as the Guardian Left

Guardian engages in Rouhani Revisionism in report on “Holocaust” remarks

Suppose you were taking a college class on the history of the 20th century and during one lecture the topic of the Holocaust was introduced. Then, in the middle of a class discussion, one student explained to the lecturer that, in his view, though some crimes were committed against Jews (and other groups) by the Nazis, the scope of the killings is still unclear and needs further research by historians and scholars.  Suppose that this student further opined that such crimes committed by the Nazis (whatever the scope) shouldn’t be exploited by Jews today to justify sixty years of usurping the land of another group and committing murderous crimes against them.

What kind of reaction would you expect from the lecturer and the students upon hearing such views?  The chances seem high that the student would be condemned for lending credibility to Holocaust revisionism and evoking the Holocaust in the context of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians – remarks which would arguably fall within the EU Working Definition of Antisemitism.  As the Wall St. Journal noted recently, responding to reports of comments made by Iran’s new president in an interview with CNN that included questions about the Holocaust:

Pretending that the facts of the Holocaust are a matter of serious historical dispute is a classic rhetorical evasion. Holocaust deniers commonly acknowledge that Jews were killed by the Nazis while insisting that the number of Jewish victims was relatively small and that there was no systematic effort to wipe them out.

Whilst CNN’s translation of Hassan Rouhani’s much publicized remarks during his interview with Christiane Amanpour on Sept. 24 has been challenged by the Wall St. Journal and Al Monitor - both of which insisted that, contrary to the CNN translation which relied on an Iranian government interpreter, Rouhani never used the word “Holocaust” – opting instead for the more euphemistic term “historical events” -  here are the relevant remarks by Iran’s president based on CNN’s Sept. 25 transcript:

I have said before that I am not a historian personally and that when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust as such, it is the historians that should reflect on it.

But in general, I can tell you that any crime or – that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, is reprehensible and condemnable, as far as we are concerned.

And just as even such crimes are – if they are to happen today against any creed or belief system or human being as such, we shall again condemn it.

So what the Nazis did is condemnable. The dimensions of whatever it is, the historians have to understand what it is. I am not a historian myself, but we – it must be clear here, is that when there is an atrocity, a crime that happens, it should not become a cover to work against the interests or – or justify the crimes against another nation or another group of people.

So if the Nazis, however criminal they were, we condemn them, whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, because genocide, the taking of the human life, is condemnable and it makes no difference whether that life is a Jewish life, a Christian or a Muslim or what.

For us, it’s the same. It’s the taking of a human life and an innocent human life is (INAUDIBLE) in Islam. It’s actually something that we condemn and our religion also rejects.

But this does not mean that, on the other hand, you can say, well, the Nazis committed crimes against, you know, a certain group, now, therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This, too, is an act that should be condemned, in our view.

So there should be an even-handed discussion of this.

Here is the Sept. 25 Guardian report on Rouhani’s remarks:

Capture

The Guardian celebration of Rouhani’s faux ‘acknowledgement’ relied entirely on quotes from the CNN transcript, and characteristically hasn’t been updated or revised to note to their readers the major dispute over the translation which came to light the day after their Sept. 25 story.  Interestingly, however, their story, written by , did include one observation by an Iranian-born Israeli named Meir Javedanfar which helps to explain how the remarks have been contextualized by media outlets friendly to the Iranian regime.

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian politics lecturer at Interdisciplinary Centre (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, interpreted Rouhani’s remarks as the limit he could go within the political and cultural constraints placed upon him.

Rouhani pushed the envelope as far as it could go, Javedanfar said, without infuriating the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other conservatives back home.

And, that’s really the point:  Holocaust deniers and revisionists typically understand that their animosity towards Jews and Israel can be seen more as more credible, and less morally suspect, if the historical understanding of the Nazi Holocaust – which serves to evoke sympathy for Jews – can be undermined.  Frankly acknowledging the systematic, and historically exceptional, attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe would necessarily draw unwanted focus on the extreme antisemitism permeating Iranian life which has inspired their leadership to call for the annihilation of the Jewish state, and would provide credibility to those insisting that a nuclear armed Iran represents an existential threat to six million Jews, and must therefore be resisted at all costs.

‘Counter-revolutionary’ rhetoric which serves to evoke sympathy for the Jewish state, no matter how obliquely, would indeed, as Javedanfar argued, “infuriate” the supreme leader, and so any pronouncements by Rouhani which touch upon the politically inconvenient topic of the Holocaust must invariably include questions about the “scope” of the Nazi crimes, and further be contextualized with the Jewish state’s ‘comparable’ “crimes” against the Palestinians. 

Rouhani’s political dilemma in allowing Iran to achieve its nuclear ambitions with minimum Western resistance is to steer a careful course which avoids offending Khamenei while simultaneously staying in the good graces of the sympathetic Western liberal media. 

The Guardian’s fawning coverage of the “moderate”, “dovish” Iranian president thus far indicates that he has passed the latter challenge with flying colors.

Buried by the Guardian: The extremism of Hassan Rouhani

If you were to rely solely on the Guardian to understand what the new president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, said during an NBC interview last week you’d never know that he described Israel as “an occupier and usurper…that has brought instability to the region, with its warmongering policies.“  

rouhani-ayatollah-khomeini

You wouldn’t know this because the report on the interview by the Guardian’s Dan Roberts only mentioned those comments by Rouhani which could be interpreted as conciliatory, while completely omitting his demonizing rhetoric about Israel, quotes which featured prominently in the NBC report which Roberts’ report was based on.

Similarly, upon reading two recent reports by the Guardian’s Saeed Kamali Dehghan, pertaining to Rouhani’s address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, you’d be forgiven for believing that Rouhani avoided criticizing Israel at all.  Dehghan wrote the following in one of his two Sept. 25 reports:

Rouhani made sure his speech was a step forward, however minimal, and that it did not add fuel to the existing tensions, not further complicate the current standoff.

Nevertheless [the speech] was positive. Western representatives at the UN remained seated and did not join Israel’s inevitable boycott of the speech. Intriguingly, Rouhani did not mention, even once, the word that so infamously was associated with his predecessor: Israel (or, as Iranian leaders prefer, “the Zionist regime”). At the end of his speech, he recited a verse from the Qu’ran that talked about the Jewish holy book, the Torah. Those two choices should have pleased the sole Iranian Jewish MP accompanying Rouhani in his UN visit to New York.

 Dehghan’s second report on Sept. 25 that dealt with Rouhani’s speech at the UN included the following:

During his visit to the UN in New York, Rouhani attempted to revamp the image of Iran so badly hurt under Ahmadinejad. He was accompanied by Iran’s only Jewish MP, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, and made no direct mention of Israel in his speech to the general assembly on Tuesday.

Despite the charm offensive, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, ordered his delegation to boycott Rouhani’s speech at the general assembly on Tuesday.

However, despite the implicit message conveyed by Dehghan in two reports, that the new Iranian President stayed clear of polarizing, anti-Israel rhetoric, his UN address included the following:

What has been – and continues to be – practiced against the innocent people of Palestine is nothing less than structural violence. Palestine is under occupation; the basic rights of the Palestinians are tragically violated, and they are deprived of the right of return and access to their homes, birthplace and homeland. Apartheid as a concept can hardly describe the crimes and the institutionalized aggression against the innocent Palestinian people.

Rouhani didn’t explicitly use the word “Israel”, but those listening to the speech obviously understood that Israel was the state Iran’s President was referring to.

Moreover, whilst some have justly focused on an extremely misleading report by CNN claiming that Rouhani, in a recent interview, acknowledged the Holocaust, (a narrative parroted by the Guardian), critiques of this specific obfuscation should be contextualized as part of a larger pattern, in which media outlets cherry pick quotes by Rouhani and fail to report information which contradicts the desired story of “Rouhani the moderate”.  

Here are a few examples of Rouhani’s far less than moderate political record:

Rouhani: ‘Death to America’:

Rouhani, boasting of duping the West on the nuclear issue:

  • Rouhani, who was Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator with Europe for two years (2003-2005), “proudly admitted that he successfully bought time to advance nuclear technology while the EU leaders were busy in negotiations with him.” (The Telegraph)

Rouhani, supporter of terror abroad:

Rouhani, supporter of terror and repression at home:

  • Rouhani (as head of the Islamic National Security Council) had a major role in the violent crackdown on a 1999 student uprising against the Islamist regime, and said, at a pro-regime rally in July that year: “At dusk yesterday we received a decisive revolutionary order to crush mercilessly and monumentally any move of these opportunist elements wherever it may occur.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Rouhani’s current pick for Justice Minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, has been criticized by human rights groups for his role in the summary executions of thousands of Iranian political prisoners in 1988, the assassination of political figures abroad, and the 1998 killings of intellectuals inside the country while he was a director at the Intelligence Ministry. – Al Monitor and Radio Free Europe

As Charles Krauthammer wrote recently about the president of a nation which is among the world’s leaders in fomenting terrorism abroad, and terrorizing women, gays, religious minorities and political dissidents at home:

“[Rouhani has a] strange résumé for a moderate: 35 years of unswervingly loyal service to the Islamic Republic as a close aide to Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei [and] one of only six presidential candidates, another 678 having been disqualified by the regime as ideologically unsound. That puts him in the 99th [per]centile for fealty.

And, if the past is any guide, we can expect the Guardian – inspired by an ideology which evokes sympathy for the political aspirations of the most reactionary, anti-Western political movements in the world – to rank in the top percentile for fealty to the new president as he engages in a surreal campaign to cast himself as a political “moderate”.   

The Guardian or PressTV? Iran’s president to export the Islamic Revolution ‘peacefully’

If you were to glance at the Guardian’s home page today, you’d be treated to the following featured story:

iran

So, apparently, the newly sworn-in Iranian president is launching a “peace” agenda.  

Interestingly, if you open the link on the Guardian graphic you get a report by  titled ‘Hassan Rouhani sworn in as president of Iran, urging moderation and respect‘ – indicating that the home page title was the creation of a Guardian editor, and not the author.  Dehghan’s piece is actually a pretty straight forward assessment, simply repeating the highlights of Rouhani’s speech.

However, here’s the passage of Rouhani’s speech highlighted by Dehghan which likely inspired the Guardian headline about the new “peace agenda”:

Rouhani said Iranians sought “peace” and “stability” in their region and across the world and said Tehran was against “foreign intervention” in any country. 

Pardon our cynicism, but it seems reasonable to ask if, as part of Rouhani’s new campaign for peace, the Islamic Republic will indeed stop providing money, arms and personnel to the Syrian army – support which has perpetuated the unimaginable bloodshed in a more than two-year long civil war.

Similarly, we can be forgiven for remaining skeptical that the new peace campaign will bring an end to a foreign policy which bestows upon Iran the distinction of being arguably the largest exporter of terror around the globe - which includes crucial support for Islamist terror movements such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

And, those genuine peace advocates among us may reasonably believe that it strains credulity to imagine a brave, new ‘dovish’ Islamist regime which will suddenly cease in its coordinated campaign of antisemitic propaganda, which includes Holocaust denial and incitement to genocide.

So, while continuing to export the Islamic Revolution by providing a military lifeline to the butcher in Damascus and sending sophisticated weapons to terror movements in Lebanon and Gaza, thus helping to destabilize the region, we are being asked to believe that the new President will, nonetheless, emphatically oppose all forms of “foreign intervention”.

Iranian imperialism with a ‘smiling face’, courtesy of the Guardian. 

The Guardian: out-farcing FARS

 In November last year an explosion took place at the Alghadir missile base at Bid Ganeh, Iran, killing seventeen members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard including the man described as the “architect” of that country’s missile programme, Major General Hassan Moghaddam.

Despite the fact that Iran claimed at the time that the explosion was the result of an accident, the Guardian apparently thought it knew better and published an article by Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan in which the writers claimed to have access to a source which blamed Israel for the blast. 

Borger and Dehghan wrote: 

“The official account insisted the blast was an accident, but a source with close links to Iran’s clerical regime blamed it on an operation by the Mossad, bolstering other reports of involvement by Israel’s intelligence and special operations organisation that were attributed to western intelligence services.

If true, the blast would mark a dramatic escalation in a shadow war over the Iranian nuclear programme.”

And: 

“Speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, however, a former director of an Iranian state-run organisation with close links to the regime, said: “I believe that Saturday’s explosion was part of the covert war against Iran, led by Israel.”

The former official compared Saturday’s incident to a similar blast in October 2010 at an IRGC missile base near the city of Khorramabad. “I have information that both these incidents were the work of sabotage by agents of Israel, aimed at halting Iran’s missile programme,” he said.”

As CiF Watch pointed out at the time, Borger and Dehghan’s dire warnings of “a dramatic [Israeli] escalation in a shadow war over the Iranian nuclear programme” notably avoided all mention of Iranian sponsorship of terror and murderous dictators in the Middle East.

On September 16th 2012, according to the semi-official FARS news agency, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Ali Jafari, once again referred to the incident as an accident saying “that the last November blast at an IRGC center in the vicinity of Tehran took place as the center was conducting research on solid fuel for satellite carries” (sic). 

“Answering a question about the impact of the blast on the IRGC missile projects and capability, the IRGC commander said, “It was just a part of our missile research program that was hit by the accident. The accident could only delay our research for 6 months and now the program is back on.” “

FARS also reported that: 

“Following the blast, a series of the news reports in the Western media tried to link Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, to the November 12 blast. 

Chief of Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firouzabadi rejected the western media reports on Israel or US involvement in the blast. “

Never one to pull its punches on the subject of blaming Israel for just about anything going – including a third-rate film trailer and diverting rain clouds - the Iranian regime, unlike the Guardian, is however quite clear on the fact that the explosion at the Alghadir base was an accident. 

It really is coming to something when a pathological obsession with Israel and reliance upon convenient rumours from anonymous sources makes a Western newspaper out-ayatollah the Ayatollahs and more farcical than FARS.  

‘Comment is Free’ moderators fail to remove references to “ZioNazis” (UPDATED)

The Guardian posted a report by  and , titled “Iran sanctions will halve oil sales but may still not succeed“, June 29. Borger and Dehghan, while musing on the possible effects of the EU’s new oil embargo against the Islamic Republic, included the following dog whistle for Guardian readers obsessed with Israel’s role in any and all possible world calamities:

“Some western diplomats privately concede that the severity of the new sanctions is primarily aimed at dissuading Israel from launching military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities.”

So original: Israel, the military aggressor, cunningly manipulating U.S. and EU security policies towards Iran – Western leaders who otherwise would have no national or regional interests in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. 

The following comment has garnered 108 “Recommends” and hasn’t been deleted, despite the fact that it was posted over 11 hours ago.

In fact, the same commenter used the term “ZioNazis” a mere two days ago, beneath the Guardian’s Middle East Live Blogwhich similarly hasn’t been deleted by CiF moderators.

It’s time to ask CiF’s comment editor Becky Gardiner if such an appalling and hateful epithet is consistent with their “community standards“.

@becky_gardiner

(UPDATE, July 1st: Following our post, the comments, which made reference to “ZioNazis”, referenced above were deleted by CiF moderators)

The Guardian ideology: Where reporting Iranian antisemitism is counter-revolutionary

What precisely would it take for the Guardian to report a story about antisemitism on the part of Iranian leaders?

While every Israeli policy conceivably affecting its Arab citizens, or the Palestinians, is scrutinized (by their ideological DNA experts) for trace amounts of racism, nowhere on the Guardian’s Iran page, for example, will you read that a website with close ties to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei recently outlined why it would be religiously acceptable to kill all Jews in Israel.

This doctrine details why such genocide would be legally and morally justified and in accordance with Islamic law.

More recently, the Guardian failed to report a hideously antisemitic speech given by Iran’s vice president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, delivered on Tuesday, June 26th 2012, at an international anti-drug conference – a story which was reported widely in the mainstream media and by wire services.

Iran’s Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi holds hands with Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh during a welcome ceremony at Sa’abad complex in Tehran, Feb. 10

Rahimi charged that the Talmud was responsible for the spread of illegal drugs around the world in a speech which reportedly even shocked European diplomats in attendance.

Rahimi, second in line to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also charged that Jews “think God has created the world so that all other nations can serve them” and that the Talmud teaches to “destroy everyone who opposes the Jews so as to protect an embryo in the womb of a Jewish mother.”  The New York Times also quoted Rahimi as saying Zionists ordered gynecologists to kill black babies and that the Russian Revolution of 1917 was started by Jews although none died in it.

The Guardian’s failure to report on such extreme antisemitism, delivered by an Iranian leader at an international forum, is not unrelated to the their consistent record defending the Islamic Republic against its critics, especially in the context of Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

Here is a sample of some of the polemical interference the Guardian has run for the mullahs in Tehran. 

  • A Guardian editorial warning Israel against saber-rattling against Iran and arguing that the Jewish state should just learn to live with a nuclear armed Iran (Iran, bolting the stable door, November 9th, 2011).
  • Saeed Kamali Dehghan’s warning against covert actions by the West and Israel to prevent Iran from acquiring nukes, which will “ruin any chance of dialogue with Tehran” (The covert war on Iran is illegal and dangerous, January 11th, 2012).

But the Pravda award for great achievements in passing off simply absurd political theories as serious thought goes to their veteran journalist Brian Whitaker, who actually served as the Guardian’s Middle East editor for seven years.

In a ‘Comment is Free’ piece on November 9th, 2011 titled Why do the US media believe the worse about Iran?”, Whitaker not only ignored the most recent IAEA report - available on the Guardian website - which stated that Iran has carried out “a structured program to develop an explosive nuclear device”, but suggested that the clandestine program may not be nuclear at all: merely a project to manufacture nanodiamonds.

As proof for this alternative and simply bizarre explanation – which has somehow eluded intelligence agencies, nuclear watchdog groups, and the international monitoring agency – Whitaker linked to a fringe site called Moon of Alabama“. 

But such comical obfuscations seem necessarily related to the Guardian’s failure to report about Iranian leaders who draw upon classic  antisemitic conspiracy theories to justify their desire to rid the world of the “cancerous tumor” known as the Jewish state.

Indeed, it seems that much of the Guardian’s editorial resources are devoted towards arguing that an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites would be madness because, at the end of the day, the Iranians are rational political actors who will behave rationally even if they become a nuclear power.  Such a theory is in itself a symptom of the paper’s broader belief that there are no moral differences between such Islamist states and the democratic West – a habit of mind characterized by Richard Landes as “Liberal Cognitive Egocentrism“.  

As such, evidence demonstrating that Iranian values are necessarily hostile towards not just Israel but Jews as such, represents supremely inconvenient truths and would run counter to the Guardian’s broader cause.  

If Israel is seen as correctly perceiving a nuclear armed Iran as a threat to the lives of millions of Jews – as well as the state’s very survival – then the Guardian’s long campaign against military intervention (as with their broader anti-Zionist narrative) is seriously undermined, and indeed would strain credulity.

The Guardian’s seemingly unlimited capacity to deny, or at least ignore, Islamist antisemitism is informed as much by an indifference to the political aspirations of Jews as it is by a broader refusal to allow for information which would contradict their most cherished beliefs.

Guardian writers and pro-Iranian propaganda.

As all regular readers of the Guardian and its ‘Comment is Free’ website are aware, that paper long since chose to take a ‘Stop the War Coalition’-style stance on the subject of pre-emptive intervention in Iran’s nuclear programme. 

Dozens of articles have been published on the subject, the vast majority of which have argued in one form or another against a pro-active approach and promoted a benign view of both the Iranian regime and its nuclear aspirations.

On April 25th two articles were published – one by Julian Borger and the other by Saeed Kamali Dehghan – on exactly the same subject; interpretations of an interview given by the Israeli Chief of Staff to the Ha’aretz newspaper.  

Julian Borger’s piece runs with the headline “Israel army chief contradicts Netanyahu on Iran” and he uses one quote out of a very long interview as a basis for the overall impression his article attempts to make: an implication that the Israeli Prime Minister is over-reacting to the Iranian threat. In other words, Borger uses Gantz’s words to try to lend legitimacy the Guardian view of the benign nature of the Iranian nuclear programme. 

Saeed Kamali Dehghan’s headline goes even further: “Israeli military chief: Iran will not decide to make nuclear weapons” and he too stresses an alleged dissonance between the views of Gantz and those of Binyamin Netanyahu. 

Obviously, it is necessary to take Lt. Gen. Gantz’s words in the context of the entire interview rather than cherry-picking quotes perceived as convenient back-up to a specific agenda. The original Hebrew version of the interview is here. The relevant sections of the English-language translation are as follows: 

“If Iran goes nuclear it will have negative dimensions for the world, for the region, for the freedom of action Iran will permit itself,” Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Haaretz in an Independence Day interview.

That freedom of action might be expressed “against us, via the force Iran will project toward its clients: Hezbollah in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad in Gaza. And there’s also the potential for an existential threat. If they have a bomb, we are the only country in the world that someone calls for its destruction and also builds devices with which to bomb us. But despair not. We are a temperate state. The State of Israel is the strongest in the region and will remain so. Decisions can and must be made carefully, out of historic responsibility but without hysteria,” Gantz said.

…….

Asked whether 2012 is also decisive for Iran, Gantz shies from the term. “Clearly, the more the Iranians progress the worse the situation is. This is a critical year, but not necessarily ‘go, no-go.’ The problem doesn’t necessarily stop on December 31, 2012. We’re in a period when something must happen: Either Iran takes its nuclear program to a civilian footing only or the world, perhaps we too, will have to do something. We’re closer to the end of the discussions than the middle.”

Gantz says the international pressure on Iran, in the form of diplomatic and economic sanctions, is beginning to bear fruit. “I also expect that someone is building operational tools of some sort, just in case. The military option is the last chronologically but the first in terms of its credibility. If it’s not credible it has no meaning. We are preparing for it in a credible manner. That’s my job, as a military man.”

Iran, Gantz says, “is going step by step to the place where it will be able to decide whether to manufacture a nuclear bomb. It hasn’t yet decided whether to go the extra mile.”

As long as its facilities are not bomb-proof, “the program is too vulnerable, in Iran’s view. If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don’t think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people. But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous.”

About three months ago Gantz’s U.S. counterpart, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, visited Israel as his guest. “We speak a great deal with the Americans. It’s not on the level of a discussion, where I want something concrete and he forbids it. We are partners. We and the United States have a large common alignment of interests and relations, but America looks at America and Israel [looks at] Israel. We aren’t two oceans away from the problem – we live here with our civilians, our women and our children, so we interpret the extent of the urgency differently. America says its piece openly, and what it says in the media is also said behind closed doors. It cannot be translated into lights, red or green, because no one is asking them anything in that regard.”

Gantz knows that in the event of another war he will face time pressures as a result of enemy operations against the home front. The IDF will have to bring massive force to bear from the outset, employing most of the means at its disposal quickly and without hesitation or delay.

Ground operations, long-distance fire and in-depth operations as well?

“I don’t pretend to determine that now. I am preparing for full deployment of our capabilities. The political leadership will have to take courageous, painful decisions. There are a certain number of critical decisions in a war. The chief of staff makes about 10 of these in his sphere of responsibility in wartime, and the political leadership makes about half this number.”

These decisions, Gantz knows, will be made under a barrage of rockets and missiles against civilian areas.

In light of the Arab Spring, Israel’s military preparedness must now include a much greater and more varied range of arenas and possibilities.

“I don’t know what will happen in Syria, but presumably the Golan Heights won’t be as quiet as before. I cannot remove Syria from the military equation, nor Lebanon. I assume that if there are terror threats from the Golan or Lebanon I’ll have to take action. I cannot do everything by ‘stand-off’ [remote]. The enemy’s fire capabilities have developed at every distance, four or five times what they were in the Second Lebanon War and four or five times compared to the Gaza Strip before Operation Cast Lead, not to mention the new ground-to-air missile in Syria. I go to sleep with the understanding that what we did in the recent long and comprehensive exercises could happen in reality.”

So, as is apparent after reading a more extended version of the interview, the IDF Chief of Staff is in fact far from writing off the Iranian nuclear threat and/or dangers from Iran’s various proxies in the region and his appraisal of the situation is nowhere near as far removed from that of the Israeli Prime Minister as the Guardian’s writers would have us believe.

In addition, Borger’s claim that “Gantz all but calls on Netanyahu to calm down” is shown to be no more than a figment of his own imagination and wishful thinking. The Israeli Prime Minister’s name is not even mentioned by Lt. Gen. Gantz and as anyone familiar with Israel’s highest-ranking officer knows, if he did have anything to say to Mr Netanyahu, it is highly unlikely that would be done via the pages of Ha’aretz.  

Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan once again illustrate Guardian propaganda - the systematic spreading of information and/or disinformation, usually to promote a specific political viewpoint - in its most transparent form. 

Guardian moral equivalence watch: Iran edition

Today, the Guardian had a live online reader Q & A with contributors  and , on the Iranian nuclear issue (the Iran nuclear crisis: Q & A with Saeed Kamali Dehghan and Richard Norton-Taylor, March 12).

The piece was introduced with this:

The prospect of armed conflict with Iran seems to grow more likely by the day. Israel has warned that it will not countenance an Iranian nuclear weapons programme, and the US has argued that, while it wants to give diplomacy time, all options remain on the table.

The rhetoric was ratcheted up again last week with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington DC. But to what extent should we take the sabre-rattling at face value? And what’s being said inside Iran?

So, I decided to weigh in, and wrote this:

(I also provided links in my original comment to buttress my claims)

Saeed Kamali Dehghan then responded to me:

First, Iranian leaders haven’t just been “crazy with their words”. As I pointed out, and what Saeed ignored, they’ve also been crazy with their deeds: funding and arming Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah.

And, when has Israel called for the annihilation of Iran, or offered a state-sponsored religious justification for the mass murder of Iranian civilians?

Second, yes, we can “measure which one is more dangerous to the world”.

According to the U.S. State Department, Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

Finally, his last point suggests that both Iran and Israel discriminate equally against “others”.

Boy, where to begin?

Has Israel hanged gays like Iran? No.

Actually, Israel has only executed one person since its founding: Adolf Eichmann.

And, more to the point, Israel is, by far the most gay-friendly nation in the Middle East. In fact, Tel Aviv was voted the most gay-friendly city in the world in poll conducted by the LGBT travel website gaycities.com.

Has Israel discriminated against their religious minorities like Iran? No again.

While, in Iran, the Bahai face systemic persecution, and a Christian pastor faces imminent execution for refusing to recant his Christian faith, religious minorities – Muslims, Druze, Bahai and Christians – are thriving in Israel, and their numbers have grown considerably since the Jewish state’s founding in 1948.

Further, while women in Israel are free and represented in all sectors of society, Iran systemically denies women equal rights - and even executes women for the crime of adultery.

Also, note that Saeed didn’t even attempt to address the fact that Iran arms and funds at least three proscribed terrorist groups on Israel’s borders. That is, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been engaged for years in a proxy war against Israel, arming groups with the explicit aim of destroying the Jewish state.

Finally, this blog has long argued that the Guardian Left simply does not represent genuinely progressive values in even the broadest sense of the term.

Israel’s liberal advantages over Iran are stark and simply beyond debate.

A genuinely liberal voice would understand this painfully obvious moral truth.

Guardian’s Simon Tisdall fears Romney’s belligerence (& Israel’s obsessive fears) may push U.S. to war

Simon Tisdall

His moral instincts are so refined, so sophisticated, and so unburdened by conventional thinking that he was able to see past the  universal enmity towards Sudan’s tragically misunderstood leader, Omar al-Bashir, charged with genocide for acting with intent to destroy non-Arab ethnic groups in the Darfur region.

Al-Bashir’s unimaginably bloody campaign resulted in up to 400,000 dead and resulted in 2.5 million refugees. 

Here’s the money quote from Simon Tisdall’s Dec. 27, 2010 apologia for Omar al-Bahsir.

“ostracised by western governments, [and] makes an easy target. America always needs bogeymen and Bashir fits the bill: big, bothersome, bad-tempered, black, Arab and Muslim.”

That final sentence should be placed in a museum of intellectual thought as a perfect representation of the Guardian Left’s capacity to synthesize anti-Americanism, post-colonialism and a perverse understanding of anti-racism in order to defend the morally indefensible. 

Such background should help partially contextualize Tisdall’s latest “analysis” of the foreign policy implications of the American elections, “You’ve been Romney-ed! Obama must beware of GOP foreign policy vortex“, Jan. 15.

Tisdall’s broad argument is that Obama should keep to his principles and not be pushed unwillingly into a regional war with Iran, as both the result of a political pressure (to be more hawkish and, thus, win re-election) from Mitt Romney’s increasingly confrontational and belligerent foreign policy positions regarding Iran – pressure partially caused by “Israel’s obsession “with eliminating the Iranian threat.”

Tisdall blames Romney for his “uncompromising hostility to the Tehran regime” – such as his support for an “increase [of] US military presence around Iran, stepped up covert warfare, support for Iranian opposition groups, and beefed up military co-operation with Israel” – which, he argues, would play right into Netanyahu’s hands.

Tisdall:

All this must be highly encouraging to Netanyahu, who does not get on with Obama, is obsessed with eliminating the Iranian threat, and fears Obama would use a second term to pursue a more forceful regional peacemaking agenda, on Palestine as well as on Iran. For Iranian leaders, pondering war or peace, it must all seem highly provocative.

In this passage Tisdall demonstrates his moral divide: a militaristic Israel which fears the specter of a “peacemaking agenda”, and is irrationally obsessed with the Iranian threat, versus an Iran (“pondering war and peace”) which understandably views such American and Israeli belligerence as “provocative”.

Tisdall’s empathy for the legitimate concerns of the Mullahs in Tehran, and condemnation of Israeli measures meant to thwart the Iranian threat, represents pretty much conventional wisdom at the Guardian.

Such moral reasoning has included:

  • A Guardian editorial warning Israel against saber-rattling against Iran, and arguing that the Jewish state should just learn to live with a nuclear armed Iran (Iran, bolting the stable door, Nov. 9).
  • Saeed Kamali Dehghan’s warning against covert actions by the West and Israel to prevent Iran from acquiring nukes, which will “ruin any chance of dialogue with Tehran” (The covert war on Iran is illegal and dangerous, Jan. 11).

Of course, strangely missing from any of these essays and editorials warning about the dangers of provocative acts by Israel and the US is any mention that Iran’s military is not only already engaged in routine belligerence acts, but routinely foments terrorism around the globe, and engages in proxy wars as a component of their foreign policy aims of exporting their Islamist revolution.

Iran is widely recognized as the world’s leading state sponsor of international terrorism.  Both directly and indirectly, Iran funds, trains and arms groups that share the regime’s stated goal of destroying Israel and the West, as well as overthrowing moderate Muslim regimes. Groups who have received the Islamic Republic’s largess include Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas. 

Iran also provides support to Islamist insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have inflicted casualties on American, British, Australian and other multinational forces.

In fact, Iran is attempting to expand its terror network beyond the Middle East, using Hezbollah and splinter groups of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to recruit and train sleeper cells in foreign countries.

The manner in which Tisdall and his Guardian colleagues almost uniformly contextualize the regional tension in a manner which frames Israel and the West as the warmongering aggressors and Iran as the victim of such (imperialist) aggression represents another instructive example of Guardian Left ideology.

The anti-imperialism which inspires such moral inversions, and informs their journalistic activism, is one of the more salient factors in properly understanding the institution’s near universal lack of moral sympathy for the Jewish state and the very real dangers the country faces.

The Guardian’s anti-Zionism doesn’t occur in an ideological vacuum and, as such, their coverage of the Iranian nuclear issue should necessarily be seen as part of their broader perverse understanding of what stances their “liberal” political package demands. 

More Pro-Iranian “Hasbara” at ‘Comment is Free’

The Guardian’s continuing campaign to persuade the world of the benign nature of the Iranian regime and its nuclear programme (also, here and here) was augmented on January 11th with another article by ex-pat Iranian Saeed Kamali Dehghan which, in finger-wagging fashion, informs us that “[t]his covert war on Iran is illegal and dangerous“.

With all the integrity and accuracy of a tabloid gossip columnist, Dehghan lays the responsibility for a whole string of events – which he takes care to detail meticulously – firmly at the door of Israel, the United States or the United Kingdom.

Or, perhaps all three: he doesn’t seem quite able to decide and of course he has no real proof for any of his speculations beyond the usual knee-jerk official Iranian reactions.

But for the Guardian and Dehghan, it is enough that Israel “has refused to deny involvement” to make it the natural prime suspect of choice.

Apparently having fully embraced the traditional Guardian anti-Western stance, Dehghan appears not to have considered the possibility that the Gulf nations in proximity to Iran have just as much – if not more – of an interest in preventing its acquisition of nuclear weapons. Conveniently, he also neglects to mention that the various incidents were apparently carried out by Iranian nationals – a fact which opens up even more possibilities.

Dehghan choses to lump attacks on various nuclear scientists together with the two explosions at military bases last year, despite the fact that there is no proof of connection and the explosions took place at sites later shown to have nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, what little information there is may even suggest that at least some of the past year’s incidents may have more to do with internal factors than cunning covert warfare.

But the cherry on the cream comes in the form of Dehghan’s appeal to international law in defence of a totalitarian regime which (as he well knows) violates human rights laws in its domestic arena on a daily basis, and arms its Syrian dictator ally (currently engaged in the murder of innocent civilians), as well as terrorist groups in Gaza and Lebanon.

“But no matter who is responsible for the extrajudicial killings and apparent sabotage, one thing should be considered above all: these are illegal actions under international law.

Whether it’s an individual simply murdering people or a foreign state inflicting injuries upon the nationals of another state and violating the territorial sovereignty of the Islamic republic, international laws and human rights conventions prohibit such activities.

Supporters of covert war against Iran see it as an alternative to aerial bombing raids or full-scale war. They believe it’s a better approach (even though it is illegal) since there are fewer civilian casualties and public confrontation with supporters of Iran, such as Russia and China, can be avoided.”

Until reaching the final paragraph, it is difficult to ascertain from this article what Dehghan would prefer: the upholding of his (unsourced) version of international law or the mass-killing of civilians on both sides.  But then we read this:

“But illegal action will only ruin any chance of dialogue with Tehran. It will encourage Iran to be less prudent and become more radical about its nuclear activities and – most importantly – will encourage Iran to react in a similar fashion with its own covert operations. The covert war against Iran, if not stopped, could escalate out of control.”

So in fact, Dehghan is conveying a not so veiled threat – but the question is, on behalf of whom?

Has he merely spent too much time in the company of Seumas Milne – a supporter of the Stop the War Coalition, which frequently collaborates with the Khomenist Islamic Human Rights Commission and has embraced the approach of the ‘Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran‘ (CASMII)?

Of note, CASMII was founded by Abbas Edalat, a professor connected to the inner circle of the Iranian regime whose primary mission appears to be the defense of the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions. As such, it was interesting to see Dehghan’s ‘Comment is Free’ piece featured prominently on CASMII’s website.

 

Or is Dehghan – an Iranian national who openly champions LGBT rights, and has family still at the mercy of a regime which executes gays - subject to other pressures?

One sincerely hopes that the former is the case, but nevertheless, his analysis indicates that there is no room for the proverbial cigarette paper between the approach of the Guardian and that of the repressive theocratic dictatorship in Tehran.

That fact should be of profound concern to any Left-wing liberal still reading Comment is Free.

Guardian describes Iranian blast, which killed missile program architect, as “dangerous Israeli escalation”

We may, of course, never know with certainty if Israel was behind the recent explosion at Alghadir missile base at Bid Ganeh, Iran which killed seventeen of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, including a man described as the “architect” of the country’s missile programme, Major General Hassan Moghaddam.

However, the manner in which Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan framed the issue, in “Iranian missile architect dies in blast. But was explosion a Mossad mission?“, Nov. 15, was classic Guardian.

Though assigning blame for the blast on Israel is more than plausible, to characterize such an act, as Borger and Dehghan do, as “a dramatic [Israeli] escalation in a shadow war over the Iranian nuclear programme” is a classic Guardian style moral inversion.  And, it is thoroughly consistent with recent Guardian editorial lecturing the Jewish state on the folly of not only a pre-emptive missile strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities but even against covert action, cyber attacks, and economic sanctions.

Of course, opining that Israeli responsibility for the explosion is a “dangerous escalation” represents either remarkably myopia or willful blindness in the face of undeniable evidence regarding Iran’s role as one the biggest exporters of terrorism on the planet.

In addition to the Islamic Republic’s role in “continuing to fund, train, and provide weapons and ammunition to Shia extremist groups that carry out attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces,” Iran, primarily through the efforts of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, continues to employ a sophisticated arms smuggling network through Syria to Hizballah in Lebanon, and to Hamas in Gaza – representing an Iranian proxy war against the Jewish state.

In fact, Iran has been so successful at re-arming Hezbollah after the 2nd Lebanon War that Israeli authorities estimate the Shiite terror group to have a rocket arsenal of over 50,000, many which could strike almost anywhere in Israel. 

Further, experts believe, in the next Lebanon war, Hezbollah could fire 400-600 rockets at Israeli towns per day.

Yet, strangely, Iran’s arming of terrorist groups who fire rockets at Israeli towns is, for some reason, not considered a “dangerous escalation” by the Guardian.

Further, evidently the moral and political experts at the Guardian are unmoved by an Iranian regime which both denies that the Holocaust, while inciting for another one against the Jewish state – what Irwin Cotler, former Justice Minister of Canada, terms “incitement to genocide.  Said Cutler:

“[We are] witnessing s incitement to genocide, we can see the unfolding of one case where there is a responsibility to act. This incitement, dramatized by parading in the streets, promotes the wiping of Israel off the map and religiously sanctioned genocide. The inflammatory epidemical metaphors used by Iran, are reminiscent of the Metaphors used by Nazi Germany. These metaphors are used by Ahmadinejad along side the denial of the Holocaust.

These calls of Ahmadinejad and other senior officials are also reminiscent of Rwanda government’s incitement to the elimination of the Tutsi.

The failure of state parties and the United Nations to act is a fatal blow to the corpus of international law and the United Nations, especially to the Genocide Convention. The international community must promote preventative action, accountability and not impunity for the sake of international peace and security.”

Not only don’t Guardian editors and journalists even marginally share Cotler’s concern, but a recent Guardian editorial decried the Israeli notion that it can, or should, engage in efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear aspirations as the foolish belief that “they can stop history.”

Israel, it seems, should listen to the sage advice from London, let history take its course, and just meekly accept their fate – a moral formula which, I assume we are to believe, has worked so well for the Jewish community throughout history.

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