What Salman Rushdie can teach Joe Biden about Iran - opinion

Iran’s barbarity is real, its antisemitism concrete and its threat to the West tangible. When Khomeini said three decades ago that he wanted Rushdie dead he meant dead, six feet under.

 SALMAN RUSHDIE is recovering, after being flown to UPMC Hamot Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, by helicopter to undergo surgery, following a stabbing attack earlier this month.  (photo credit: QUINN GLABICKI/REUTERS)
SALMAN RUSHDIE is recovering, after being flown to UPMC Hamot Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, by helicopter to undergo surgery, following a stabbing attack earlier this month.
(photo credit: QUINN GLABICKI/REUTERS)

The Biden Administration has made it clear that they are about to conclude a new nuclear deal with Iran. The president would be wise to first visit Salman Rushdie in the hospital, where he has been convalescing from a barbaric attack. We hear he has lost an eye and that the nerves to his arm have been severed.

He will never be the same man again. He must also now fear copycat attacks and murderous Islamists, who are in shock that his attacker didn’t finish him off.

But while the attempted murderer lives in New Jersey, his ideology hails from Iran.

I still remember, having just arrived 30 years ago to serve as the full-time rabbi in residence to the students of Oxford University, how a massive parade of Muslim residents walked past our home in central Oxford just after Ayatollah Khomeini had issued his fatwa to have Rushdie murdered. I was shocked that Muslims living in the West would take incitement to murder a writer seriously at Oxford, the academic crossroads of Western civilization.

In the years that followed, I established close relationships with many of my Muslim brothers and sisters who were studying at Oxford, even as we passionately debated the Middle East. It took a decade in hiding but Rushdie’s life largely returned to normal. Then, he moved to the United States and ambled about with no security.

 Author Salman Rushdie listens during the opening news conference of the Frankfurt book fair, Germany October 13, 2015. (credit: REUTERS/RALPH ORLOWSKI) Author Salman Rushdie listens during the opening news conference of the Frankfurt book fair, Germany October 13, 2015. (credit: REUTERS/RALPH ORLOWSKI)

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And that’s the lesson here. Iran, its proxies and its ideologues will wait a full 30 years before they get you. You may forget. But they never forget.

Iran’s barbarity is real, its antisemitism concrete and its threat to the West tangible. When Khomeini said three decades ago that he wanted Rushdie dead he meant dead, six feet under. It was not an allegory. It was not metaphorical.

Then-president Barack Obama signed a nuclear deal with Iran in the belief that they don’t really mean that they will destroy Israel. It’s an empty threat. They don’t really mean “Death to America.” It’s an empty bluster. Tell that to Salman Rushdie who made the mistake of dismissing security protection in the belief that Iran was full of bravado and in the hope that they forgot his book The Satanic Verses.

But, I’m not here to blame the victim. Rushdie is an innocent man and a talented writer. I have no strong opinion on his books, as I am not an expert in them. But I salute his freedom to express his opinions and had he written a book blaspheming Judaism, there is not a rabbi in the world who would have decreed death upon him without being seen as an insane nut.

Israel better get used to the fact that to the Iranian Mullahs, the Jewish state is one giant Salman Rushdie, one big act of blasphemy. Iran will stop at nothing to destroy Israel. They’ve been saying it for 40 years and they mean it.

This brings me back to US President Joe Biden. By all accounts, the president is a genuine and sincere friend to Israel, and has been longer than the Iranian revolutionaries have been in charge in Tehran.

Biden also knows that his predecessor staked his entire prestige on his deal with Iran that Donald Trump undid with the stroke of a Presidential pen. Biden understands that if he has a Republican successor in the Oval Office, the same will probably happen again.

Biden also knows that Iran is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, two dictators with more blood on their hands than any others in the world today.

BIDEN HAS watched as Iran has sent proxies, identified by US intelligence, to try and murder former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton.

More than anything else, Biden has watched as the Jewish people have been repeatedly threatened by Iran with annihilation for four decades. What’s he thinking about signing a new deal with Iran that will give them a legitimate nuclear program and about $100 billion (NIS328 b.) so they can murder people in terrorist attacks throughout the world?

Let’s be clear. Those right-wing supporters of Israel who malign Biden as terrible to Israel are not telling the truth. When it comes to the Jewish State, Biden is not Trump. No one else was either. Trump, whatever his other flaws, was the greatest supporter of Israel to ever occupy the Oval Office. But for all that, Biden has been pretty good.

He has not pressed Israel to surrender land for fake peace. He has stood by Israel as it has defended itself against repeated rocket assaults from genocidal Hamas. He has not pressed for a Palestinian state that would become another failed Hamas terror state on Israel’s borders. And he has resisted pressure from the Squad and other Israel-hating fanatics in his party to turn against the Jewish state.

In short, Biden was and is a friend of the Jewish people. And for all these reasons and more, a deal with Iran that leaves them with a nuclear program will forever tarnish Biden’s image.

Thirty years ago, Cory Booker was my student president at Oxford and upon returning to the US became the darling of the American Jewish community, who stood by him decisively through every subsequent political campaign. Then he voted for the Iran deal and burned his bridges with American Jews.

I told him why. Every person has the right to criticize Israel. It’s a democracy, after all, and that’s the whole point. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of political activism. What you don’t have the right to do is empower Israel’s enemies when their stated intention is another holocaust of the Jews. Cory voted for the Iran deal without once even condemning Iran’s genocidal rhetoric from the floor of the Senate.

Biden is no longer a senator from Delaware. He is no longer the number two to Obama, responsible for backing up the former president’s foreign policy mistakes. He is now president in his own right.

He should visit Salman Rushdie in the hospital and ask him, before he commits Obama’s blunder on Iran, a simple question: “Do you believe Iran when they say that eventually they are going to murder you, or do you think this was a lone-wolf attack against you that was not inspired by the Mullahs?”

I’m not Rushdie’s spokesman, but I’ll venture a guess at what the answer would be. “Khomeini ordered me dead and his followers, I’ve now learned, will stop at nothing until they carry out his instructions.”

And that was a single Khomeini fatwa. His orders of death to America and to destroy Israel were repeated endlessly by him and now his successor Ayatollah Khamenei.

Iran means what it says and says what it means. It’s time to stop the mullahs now.

The writer, “America’s Rabbi,” is the best-selling author of Kosher Hate, The Broken American Male, and The Israel Warrior. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @RabbiShmuley.