During the 51st Munich Security Conference last weekend, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif was busy conducting “hallway diplomacy” with a number of his counterparts, among them US Secretary of State John Kerry and Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sebastian Kurz.
What emerged from these meetings was renewed optimism on the part of the West that a deal with the Islamic Republic was imminent.
Kerry reported back to his boss in the White House that everything was under control: All the P5+1 powers (the US, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany) would have to do was accept the Iranian regime’s assertion that its nuclear program was peaceful, and an agreement could be signed well before the July deadline.
Kurz indicated that Austria would be happy to hold the next round of talks in Vienna, telling reporters that his government was satisfied with all the previous ones that had taken place there.
Zarif responded coyly – like a lover being courted – indicating that he could be persuaded to accept the invitation, with the right amount of coaxing.
Now let’s look at the goings-on last week in the home countries of these three top diplomats.
In Iran, a celebration was held to mark the 36th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, with mass demonstrations during which crowds chanted, “Death to America,” and, “Death to Israel.”
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In the United States, a scandal was unfolding over Speaker of the House John Boehner’s invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, to outline and warn about Iran’s true nuclear ambitions and capabilities. In addition, President Barack Obama, in an interview with the Vox news site, referred to the murder of four Jews at a kosher grocery store in France last month by purposely omitting the nationalities of both the victims and the perpetrators.
“It is entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you have a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris,” he said.
In Austria, the Linz prosecutor’s office ruled that the Nazi-like Facebook postings of a naturalized Turk named Ibrahim, a hairdresser in the city of Wels, were legitimate expressions of criticism against Israel.
Among his rants, Ibrahim (whose last name is being withheld to protect him) invented a quote by Hitler: “I could have annihilated all the Jews in the world, but I left some of them alive so you will know why I was killing them,” he wrote in December. He also called on Allah to wipe out the Jewish state.
When someone complained to Austrian police, an investigation was opened to determine whether Ibrahim was violating a law banning Nazi glorification. But the local prosecutor decided that Ibrahim was merely expressing “displeasure with Israel” for its part in Operation Protective Edge in Gaza over the summer.
Jews in Europe and America have been reacting to the above in three ways.
One is to pack their bags and head for Israel. Indeed, aliya from France was at an all-time high this year, and many French Jews who arrived at the height of the war in Gaza – when interviewed about whether they were afraid to be greeted at the airport with instructions on what to do during a Hamas rocket attack – said they felt far safer being in Israel than in Europe.
Another is to defend Israel from afar, by acting tirelessly to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in their home countries. Though necessary and commendable, their vigilance is no match at this moment for the global marriage of old-style Jew hatred and Islamism.
A third is to blame other Jews and Israel for this sorry state of affairs. This is why Netanyahu was told not to attend the “Je suis Charlie” rally in Paris following the slaughter of (mostly Jewish) journalists at a satirical newspaper that published caricatures of Muhammad, and the targeted killing of Jews at Hyper Cacher.
It is also why the prime minister was ridiculed at home and abroad for “elbowing” his way into the front line of world leaders attending the memorial. Oh, and then for having the gall to remind an imperiled European Jewry that it has a home in Israel.
It is certainly the reason for the commotion that his upcoming speech to Congress about Iran and global jihad has caused, and for the particularly vile petition that the left-wing American Jewish organization J Street launched against him last Monday.
The purpose of the petition, which has been circulating on the Internet, is to announce: “I’m a Jew. Bibi [Netanyahu] does NOT speak for me!” This is in reference to recent remarks by Netanyahu to the effect that he is the leader of the Jewish People.
Though the context of his statements has been the sharp rise in anti-Semitism, his detractors have been making cynical use of them.
Here is what such smug Jews need to understand: Netanyahu may not be able to speak for all of them, but anti-Semites are speaking against all of them.
The mullahs in Iran, on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, make no distinction between the head of J Street and the head of Israel. Ask any Holocaust survivor.The writer is the editor of Voice of Israel radio (voiceofisrael.com) and a columnist at Israel HaYom.
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