September 25: Iran, two sides

The talk of the world these days is Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s “charm offensive.”

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran, two sides
Sir, – The talk of the world these days is Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s “charm offensive” (“Iran and US agree to talk in New York,” front page, September 24). Maybe he is an evil ogre, comparable to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; maybe he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But maybe he isn’t. Maybe he represents some type of back pedaling, a way for the Iranian regime to save face.
He fielded a question about whether he believed in the Holocaust by saying that he was a politician and not a historian, which could be interpreted as saying that the Holocaust did not happen. However, it could also be interpreted as, “this is the party line and I am following it, but I do not have to make outrageous, nonsensical statements.”
We know that the people of Iran are a great people; there is an “Israel loves Iran” campaign going on; there are many Jews who grew up in Iran and moved to Israel, and there are many expat Iranian non-Jews who live in Europe and are wonderful people.
Could it not be that slowly the moderates are beginning to pop up their heads? Must the scenario always be a doomsday one? Is it not interesting that the uranium enrichment has been going on for over a decade and only now has it become such a serious matter? Who knows what really lies behind politics? Lies and money, I would say.
We need look no further than the case of Sadam Hussein who, in the end, did not have weapons of mass destruction, although no one is denying that he was a mass murder.
Sir, – I found it inexplicable, when reading the extensive contribution by the presumably erudite and well-informed Myra Macdonald (“Despite thaw, resolving Iranian dispute a huge challenge,” Regional News, September 23), that she places some store on the fact that Iran is a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which subjects it to international inspections.
Iran has repeatedly shown its contempt for the UN inspectors, generally giving them the runaround and summarily expelling them when it suited the regime. There is little doubt that Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons, and the recent conciliatory statements from the new leadership must be viewed as a continuation of the policy of buying time.
Sir, – The question posed by Ben Levitas in his article (“Is Tehran pursuing deception or diplomacy?” Comment & Features, September 24) about whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “is playing a game of dissimulation or genuine diplomacy” should, in my opinion, be answered with the former – dissimulation.
While the author has enlightened us concerning the Muslim religious license to dissimulate when placed in danger, I believe that an application of Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction theory to the words of Rouhani would help US President Barack Obama understand better Iran’s true intent concerning its nuclearization program. What Derrida does is illuminate the flaw in Western diplomacy – the belief that words have a fixed meaning and therefore may be analyzed, when in fact they do not.
In discourse, much if not all depends upon what the signifier (Rouhani) wants to signify to the signified (Obama). May I suggest that the US president listen with both ears, and just in case he does not, that Israel continue its policy of self-reliance.
Due credit
Sir, – We read with joy the news of Gino Bartali’s posthumous recognition as Righteous Among the Gentiles (“Italian sports hero posthumously honored as Righteous Gentile,” News, September 24).
Bartali epitomized the lofty values of the rescuers and the spirit of solidarity which was so typical of the Italian people.
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation started promoting Bartali’s heroic figure many years ago, paying tribute to his brave heart and incorporating his legacy in our worldwide educational programs.
A few weeks ago, on a visit to the Vatican, we met with Pope Francis, who in his “former life” as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio joined our foundation as honorary member. Quite coincidentally, we told the pontiff our feelings towards the Italian rescuers in general and Gino Bartali in particular.
Pope Francis’s sensitivity to the rescuers is well known to us. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio helped us enormously in promoting the Memorial Mural we installed at the Metropolitan Capital in a joint initiative with his predecessor, Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, who also asked to be buried next to it and to allow the Jews to visit this emblematic monument with their heads covered.
This Mural is in tribute to the victims of the Shoa and the terrorist attacks perpetrated against the Israeli embassy and the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires back in the 1990s.
E. EURNEKIAN & B.TENEMBAUM The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation New York, New York
Tragedy and trust
Sir, – It is with sorrow and horror that I have read on two successive days, in the exact same spot on the front page of your paper, the tragic fate that has befallen two young men in their prime for no other reason than that they represent the IDF (“Palestinian sniper kills soldier in Hebron,” front page, September 23 and “Palestinian lures, murders soldier in West Bank attack,” front page, September 22). I extend my deepest sympathies to both their families for these great tragedies.
Regarding the first killing, that of Sgt. Tomer Hazan, the crude reality of the situation in this country is that we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
If we do not make friends with our Arab coworkers, if we refuse to let them invite us to their homes or to show us their side of the story, we are not advancing toward anything. Yet, as demonstrated in this case, if we do, we may be putting our lives at risk.
This is a country of much intensity, everything is magnified beyond the norm of other states and nations, and even the simplest actions have to be thought through as matters of life and death.
I believe it behooves us to keep on trying to communicate with the “other” but with much care, with small steps, while always bearing in mind what the worst outcome could be and therefore using caution above all.
Nevertheless, IDF members must be forbidden from associating socially with any Arab because, sadly, we are in a state of war.
Obama’s zig-zagging
Sir, – David Weinberg (“Emasculating America,” Observations, September 20) put his finger on a central element in understanding President Barack Obama’s “misreading” of world politics.
He points out that what many “experts” have called Obama’s “fumbling, zig-zagging, impotent” policies in the world, are, in fact, thought-out policies aimed at intentionally weakening America. This was pointed out by political commentator Dinesh D’Souza, author of The roots of Obama’s rage, even before Obama was elected president in 2008. Obama’s strong anti-colonialist stand was expressed clearly when he conspicuously removed Winston Churchill’s bust from the White House and brazenly returned it to Britain. In Obama’s mind, the UK has too often acted as a colonial power, and this is hateful to him. His goal is a secondclass United States which can no longer interfere (for any reason) in another country’s policies (ergo his non-stance on Syria).
The relevance to us is that Israel is also on his sights as a colonial power. He will never use American power to protect such “evils.”