Move over Stockholm Syndrome; make way for the Tehran Effect. If there isn’t yet a name for the phenomenon in which liberal, left-leaning Westerners are captivated by the charms of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there should be.
Next week is the holiday of Purim, marking Jewish survival in ancient Persia after King Ahasuerus’s adviser, Haman, plotted to wipe out the entire community. Traditionally, Jews celebrate it with costume parties, giving gifts and charity, and reading the Book of Esther. According to the Talmud, they should drink so much they cannot differentiate between the evil Haman and Esther’s uncle, the heroic Mordecai.
Members of the group Code Pink seem to have had an early start, although they presumably did it without the aid of alcohol. The organization, which proclaims to be “a women-led grassroots organization working to end US wars and militarism [and] support peace and human rights initiatives,” has just returned from one of its regular trips to Iran.
I’m indebted to my colleague Seth J. Frantzman for writing about the visit and giving me what would have been a good laugh if it weren’t so sad – and dangerous.
A 28-person Code Pink delegation in late February traveled to Iran, where they met with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on February 25 in what was described as one of the highlights of the trip.
What was a feminist, human-rights organization doing in Iran? According to their website, the “Peace Delegation” aimed to “give participants a unique chance to understand this much-maligned nation and put a human face on this political struggle.”
I can tell you what they weren’t doing: They weren’t looking out for the interests of the ordinary Iranian people. This is a country that hangs homosexuals and has executed (according to UN figures) at least 33 children since 2013. (Girls can be sentenced to death from the age of nine and boys from 15). Child brides are still married off to older men to be legally raped for the rest of their miserable lives. Iran persecutes minorities – including Christians, Baha’i and Kurds, among others. It basically bans pet dogs and is waging a campaign against environmentalists. (Remember Iranian-Canadian conservationist Kavous Seyyed-Emami who died in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison last year? Code Pink obviously didn’t remember him. Or just doesn’t care.)
This week it was reported that Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was sentenced to 38 years in jail and 148 lashes for defending the right of women to appear in public without their heads covered. What do the ultra-feminists of Code Pink think about this? More to the point, why didn’t they ask Zarif and other officials they met about such atrocities? (I’ll give you a clue: They wanted to return to the safety of their liberal lifestyles in the US and elsewhere.)
PLANNING A journey is meant to be part of the fun. Since I – an Orthodox Jewish Israeli woman – would not be able to visit Iran even if I were to swallow my disgust at the regime that rules it, I took a close look at the travel plans for the Code Pink group.
The guidelines for those applying to go on the trip were more revealing than an uncovered head. They made my hair stand on end.
Who was invited to apply? The organizers sought activists with the means of widely disseminating reviews of their trip. The group notes at the outset that it’s a difficult and time-consuming process to get visas for Iran. People with an Israeli stamp in their passports must get a “clean” one before applying, although having an Iranian stamp does not prevent a visitor from entering Israel (or “Palestine,” as the organizers note.)
The most telling part of the instructions concerns the dress code in Iran:
“For Women: You must always have/wear a tunic or a long coat (long enough to cover your butt) over your regular clothes and are required to cover your heads with a scarf when you are out in public. You do not need to have every single strand of your hair covered. There are no limitations to colors.
“**IMPORTANT** Please make sure you have your scarf and long shirt/tunic/coat with you in your handbag and not in your suitcase on the plane. You will need to wear the head scarf and be covered before you step off the airplane into the airport in Iran.”
Did nobody pause for thought at this point instead or wondering where to purchase a bright pink hijab? Is every one of the 148 lashes to be meted out to Sotoudeh in vain? Every year in prison, presuming she survives the corporal punishment, to be a waste?
Do women who place “choice over their own bodies” above the rights of a child growing in their wombs not consider it outrageous that Iranian women aren’t given the choice whether or not to cover their hair?
The trip guidelines proudly state, “Iranians are often savvy in political conversations. Do not hesitate to engage in any political conversations with anyone either in your formal meetings and/or otherwise.” Nonetheless, they later warn: “Just be cautious and make sure when speaking to people that they do not have another agenda.”
Well, Code Pink knows all about agendas – they just have to be the right ones. An Iranian’s agenda could be a plea for help. Pity the person who risks speaking out without realizing how unuseful these idiots are to those who really care about human rights and freedom.
“Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are heavily filtered in Iran,” the group guidelines note.
“Heavily filtered” is another code word in Code Pink doublespeak. It’s another means of control so that those unhappy with the regime cannot reach out for help; to prevent people from knowing what’s going on in the outside world.
“What kind of small gifts should we bring? T-shirts, pins, interesting books, chocolates, any souvenir from your city or state.”
“Are there any restrictions on books to bring to Iran?”
“Do not bring the Bible as a gift with you as it will come across as a missionary trip to Iran. The Iranian government is also not interested in George Soros.”
Now you know what a wink looks like when written down in a travel guide.
FEELING GOOD about their experiences, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, who co-direct Popular Resistance, wrote about their trip on the website of World Beyond War, where Zeese is a member of the advisory board.
Not surprisingly, they describe “an extraordinary meeting” with Zarif as a highlight. During the trip, the group told Iranian media that Israel and Saudi Arabia had forced US President Donald Trump to drop out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Zeese and Flowers wrote, “Zarif explained the root cause of the problems between the United States and Iran. It is not about oil, Iran’s form of government or even about nuclear weapons, it is about Iran’s 1979 revolution which made the country independent of US empire (sic) after being under its control since the 1953 coup. Iran wants to be respected as a sovereign nation that decides its own domestic and foreign policy, not dominated by the United States.”
Other noteworthy memories came from the country’s Peace Museum: “Our delegation gave the museum books on war and peace activism.”
The irony seems to be lost on them. Tehran’s tentacles of terror have been felt around the world, from Argentina to Yemen. The regime funds recognized terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, among others. It has not given up its plans for nuclear weapons – and continues to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Far from reaching out, it arrests peace activists and organizes rallies where the Israeli, American and Saudi flags are burned. And it openly proclaims its aim is to wipe the Zionist state off the face of the earth.
Code Pink’s visit grants all this the legitimacy the ayatollahs seek, while betraying all decent human beings – particularly the Iranian people.
The Iranian regime must have been tickled pink – but Code Pink makes me see firstname.lastname@example.org