The recent interim
agreement between the P5+1 and Iran over its nuclear program has generated a
mind-boggling amount of commentary about technical phrases like “breakout
capacity” and “enrichment rights.” While these discussions are important, it is
also crucial that we not lose sight of the reason these negotiations have even
occurred: the world’s serious concerns with Iran, given its violent and
threatening actions, and its attempts to develop a nuclear weapon. For me, a
recent conversation with my grandson put things into their proper
My son, daughter-in-law and their two children live in
Rehovot. I’m biased, but trust me when I say that my grandson has an amazing
memory for a five-year old.
He is, in fact, able to identify the make and
model of almost any car on the street.
While on a walk one day, he
pointed out a Mazda and a Nissan. In response, I told him that he could say
“Mazda is fooya; Nissan is fooya!” (“fooya” is Israeli children’s slang for
something they don’t like). Of course, being a curious five-year-old, he asked
“Why?” I told him that Mazda, Nissan and others make cars in Iran, and are
thereby helping support its leaders.
You can already guess his next
question: “Why is Iran bad?” This was the hard part. I didn’t want to go into
too much detail, but I did tell him that Iran’s leaders provide rockets that are
used to hurt innocent people.
I don’t think my grandson understood what a
rocket is or what damage it can do, nor did I try to explain it to him. I wish
he would never have to think about such matters; he shouldn’t be thinking about
I thought about how just one year ago, a rocket supplied by
Iran was fired from Gaza, flew over my grandson’s city, and slammed into an
eight-story apartment building in Rishon Lezion, a few miles to the
I also thought about how just 90 miles (145 km.) from where we
stood, Iran was helping the regime of President Bashar Assad murder thousands of
As I thought of all I could not tell my grandson, my
anger grew over the fact that so many major-multinational companies like Mazda
and Nissan continue to do business-as-usual with Iran, and are thereby helping
the Iranian regime continue its destructive actions.
If the CEOs of
Nissan or Mazda had grandchildren living in Israel or Syria, would they still be
doing business in Iran, including selling automobiles that are used to transport
IRGC officials, and ferry around rockets? Of course, Nissan and Mazda are not
the only multinational companies doing business in Iran.
are hundreds, including Ericsson, LG, MTN and Lufthansa. According to US law,
American companies are only allowed to do business in Iran for humanitarian
reasons, mainly the sale of food and medicine. The same is true for
Yet for a lot of companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, it’s
still business as usual Just one week before visiting my grandson, on November
20 Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Israelis “cannot be
called human beings.” Khamenei threatened that “the Israeli regime is doomed to
failure and annihilation.”
The international community’s response to
Khamenei’s threatening comments? Silence and apathy.
Certainly not as
much talk as there regularly is about Iran’s “moderate” and “charming” new
president and foreign minister. I am also frustrated with an international media
so wrapped up in the possibility of a “diplomatic breakthrough,” yet so
uninterested in shining a light on the business being done by multinational
companies in Iran. If people knew this information, would they continue to buy
the products of these companies? The presence of multinational companies in Iran
gives legitimacy to the Iranian regime as a government, and indirectly helps
fund terrorist and the murderous regime of Assad. It also helps perpetuate the
horrible human rights situation in Iran, and takes focus away from repeated
genocidal threats against Israel by Iranian leaders.
business-as-usual status quo in Iran gives the regime a free pass to continue to
violate six United Nations Security Council resolutions that demand it suspend
its enrichment activities.
Let us be clear in our understanding that the
interim deal reached in Geneva did not put an end to all of these concerns. Only
continued economic pressure on Iran will do that, and that will require each of
us to do our part.
As for the CEO’s of companies doing business in Iran,
I would like to see them to sit down with an Israeli or Syrian five-year-old and
try to explain why they continue to support Iran. I can guarantee that if enough
of us boycott their products, they would care a whole lot more.
author is outreach coordinator for the non-partisan advocacy group, United
Against Nuclear Iran.