In an outstanding interview with the BBC’s Persian service, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu had his first direct conversation with the Iranian
If during his recent visit to the UN Netanyahu launched a
counterattack against the Iranian regime’s charm offensive, in his interview
with BBC Persian he took aim at the very heart of the regime. One of his
statements was so painful that former Iranian president’s Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani’s grandchild called it “a fireball in the Islamic Republic’s
Fuad Hashemi criticized BBC Persian for giving Netanyahu a forum
to speak openly with the Iranian people. He argued that “Iranian officials are
not allowed to speak with Israeli people through official Israeli TV” – an
opportunity they deny themselves, as they don’t acknowledge the existence of the
Jewish state and have been trying to destroy it by any and all
Rebuking BBC Persian, the junior prince of the Rafsanjani dynasty
asserts that Netanyahu’s interview has greatly hurt the regime. He warns that
“paying tribute” to Netanyahu will harm Great Britain’s interests in
However, the fact that the Islamic Republic’s propaganda machine,
its cyber army and its legion of lobbyists and apologists could not come up with
any better response than to focus on Netanyahu’s point about jeans shows just
how on-the-mark the prime minister’s well-chosen words were.
Here is what
Netanyahu said: “I think if the Iranian people had freedom, they would wear
jeans, listen to Western music, and have free elections.”
sentence, he addressed two of the most important issues the Iranian people have
been fighting for under the oppressive Islamist dictatorship which has occupied
Iran since 1979: First, the battle over lifestyle and second, the battle over
democracy and human rights.
True, the prime minister would have been
better off if he had chosen the example of women being forced to wear veils, but
anyone with a normal IQ understands what he meant by the comment about jeans:
Iranians are not free to wear what they want, drink what they want, eat what
they want, or listen to whatever music they want to listen to.
to do as the Islamic regime and Shari’a law order them, or face punishment,
For three long decades the Islamist dictatorship has
waged war on an ancient civilization, depriving it of individual
FOR THE second battle, on the other hand, Netanyahu chose an
excellent example: the demand for free and fair elections. President Hassan
Rouhani was not freely elected. He was handpicked, along with seven others, by
the Guardian Council and the supreme leader, in a process that disqualified
Also disqualified were hundreds of people who registered,
thousands who did not bother to register because they knew they would be
disqualified, ten of thousands who could not register as they had been murdered
by the regime over the past 34 years and the hundreds of thousands who have fled
the country due to the unbearable situation there.
Iran, the Iranian people and Cyrus the Great. He told the Iranian people about
the long friendship between Persians and Jews, which stretched from ancient
times until 34 years ago, and he told them it was his wish to renew such a
friendship. This highlights once more that both Israeli society and its
political leadership long for a partnership with a democratic
Netanyahu told the Iranian people they deserve a better government,
a notion that apparently US President Barack Obama doesn’t subscribe to. He
explained to them clearly why Israel cannot accept a nuclear-armed Islamic
Republic and how this problem can be resolved peacefully.
He made it
obvious, once again, that by keeping the military pressure up Israel seeks to
gather support around the globe to bring this dictatorship to its knees
economically and politically.
Without a doubt, Netanyahu’s interview was
a successful PR move, and again without doubt, it could have been
Let’s hope this is only the beginning of Israel’s targeting of
Iranian public opinion. The truth is that Islamic Republic is Israel’s greatest
enemy and Israel should have done more in addressing Iran’s civil society.
Israel’s efforts have been focused on the fight in the Western public opinion
While the Western front is important, Israel needs to turn
its head toward the east; after all, the point of all these efforts is to
establish Israel in the Holy Land, in the heart of the Middle East.
main public opinion battlefield is thus here in Middle East – that is, if Israel
does not want to be surrendered by eternal enemies forever, it needs to make
friends in the region, and to make friends it needs to launch a large-scale PR
Engaging more visibly the Iranian people, the most secular and
democracy-loving society in the Middle East, is a step that the Jewish
democratic state can only gain from – especially in light of absent American
leadership. So well done, Mr. Prime Minister. But keep it up.
is a German-Iranian journalist and director of political studies at the
Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy.
Saeed Ghasseminejad is a
political analyst and PhD candidate in finance at City University of New York.