Qasem Soleimani: Gone for good

My Word: Israelis did not shed tears for Soleimani. He was an arch-terrorist, responsible for the deaths of thousands of people across the globe.

A man in uniform holds a picture of Qasem Soleimani during a protest in Tehran following his targeted assassination.  (photo credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE/WANA VIA REUTERS)
A man in uniform holds a picture of Qasem Soleimani during a protest in Tehran following his targeted assassination.
An Israeli expert commenting on the assassination of Qasem Soleimani used the Arabic expression “Kul kalb biji yomo.” Every dog has its day. The phrase is popular among Hebrew-speakers, who don’t bother to translate it because of the similarity of the words in the two languages. Not for the first time, I pondered on the vast difference between the meaning of the phrase in the Middle East and the idiom in English.
“Kul kalb biji yomo” is negative, used to mean someone will get their comeuppance. It’s the exact opposite of the English-speakers’ concept that everyone will have their day of success.
It might not indicate a clash of civilizations, but it seems symbolic of a clash of cultures.
To make it perfectly clear, the Israeli commentator meant that Soleimani – the leader of Iran’s Quds Force – got what was coming to him. For US President Donald Trump, it was a bold decision and a successful operation. It made his day in the best sense.
Israelis did not shed tears for Soleimani. He was an arch-terrorist, responsible for the deaths of thousands of people across the globe. The Islamic Republic is intent on establishing a crescent of power spreading from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, with the ayatollahs’ blessing and under Soleimani’s guidance, has been embedding itself in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere.
This is not a benevolent enterprise. Iran uses its influence and territories for terrorism. Targets include the AMIA Jewish community building in Buenos Aires, where 85 people were killed in the 1994 explosion; the 2012 Burgas bus bombing, in which five Israeli tourists and their local Bulgarian guide were killed; the rocket attacks from Yemen on Saudi Arabia and the attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf; the occasional firing of Katyushas onto the Israeli side of the Golan Heights; and the recent storming of the US Embassy in Baghdad and attacks on US military bases in Iraq, which triggered Trump’s response.
Iran not only crossed borders with impunity; it crossed redlines until it took one step too far. Soleimani, killed with the deputy head of the Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Units Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and others at Baghdad Airport, was no longer hiding his moves and intent. Trump could not afford to ignore this. When president Barack Obama looked the other way as Syria’s Bashar Assad crossed redlines and launched chemical warfare on his own people, it did not end well. In fact, the deadly effects of the civil war have not ended yet. Significantly, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid an urgent visit to Assad following the death of Soleimani.
A policy based only on restraint means a loss of deterrence; and a lack of deterrence doesn’t prevent violence, but encourages more attacks.
In another example of culture clash, before Soleimani’s body had even made its slow way home for burial, his daughter tearfully asked: “Who will avenge my father’s death?”
I know many – too many – victims of war and terrorism. The families’ first question is usually “How can we go on?” followed by “How can we preserve the memory of our loved one in a meaningful way?” Soleimani’s daughter straightaway demanded more deaths and destruction. (While I don’t cry for Soleimani, I thought it was sad that some 60 people were trampled to death during his funeral procession. I don’t delight in death and he wasn’t worth it.)
IN THE United States – where the “united” is less evident in these highly polarized times – Democrats and progressives predictably were quick to denounce the targeted assassination.
Many expressed fears that it would set off a cycle of violence – as Mark Antony put it in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war.”
Somehow they were able to ignore the real risks of war that Soleimani himself represented. Iran has done worse. And it continues to be capable of worse.
Twice within a few months, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza – supported by Iranian funds and weapons – have specifically targeted Israel’s prime minister. In September and December, rockets were fired on the Israeli towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon while Benjamin Netanyahu was holding election rallies there. The rockets, probably fired either by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad or Hamas, were aimed at the prime minister with total disregard for any possible “collateral” damage – the loss of lives among those civilians attending the rallies or in the surrounding areas.
This is an example of both the immense strength and the main weakness of having the Iron Dome anti-rocket system. The high-rate of success gives both Israel and the country’s enemies a false sense of security. The Iranian-backed Gazans gambled. Just suppose the system had failed: Even Netanyahu’s many political rivals would not want to see him knocked out of the election race by an Iranian-sponsored rocket with his name on it.
Across the broad political spectrum, with the exception of the Arab Joint List, Israeli politicians welcomed the removal of Soleimani et al. So, too, did people in Saudi Arabia and all those struggling against Iran’s pernicious, encroaching control in the region. It is no bastion of freedom and human rights. Wherever Iran goes, the country goes to the dogs. And there’s a reason that protesters in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere chant about the money that should be spent on helping those economies going instead to promote Iran’s war machine.
To the reported disgust and ire of Sunni Arab countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh tellingly participated in Soleimani’s funeral, where he referred to the assassinated Iranian as a “martyr of Jerusalem.”
But this should not be seen as Israel’s battle. Soleimani symbolizes the threat of the Iranian regime around the world. Those who opposed Trump’s decision to kill Soleimani are now crying “Who let the dogs out?” following the Iranian declaration that it will no longer abide by the 2015 nuclear deal.
Trump withdrew from the deal promoted by his predecessor in the White House – and former secretary of state John Kerry – because he understood its serious flaws. The agreement signed by the P5+1 group (the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) granted Iran a flush of money to prop up the regime and fund terrorism in return for a temporary delay in reaching its goals of achieving military nuclear capability.
Those in favor of the deal point out that, in accordance with the terms of the agreement, Iran shipped most of its fissionable stockpile to Russia. How safe do you feel knowing that these tons of enriched uranium are now in the hands of Putin? I don’t think of him as the ideal guard dog.
In addition, Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general for safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency, told The Jerusalem Post’s Yonah Jeremy Bob that Iran’s nuclear “breakout time by the end of January will be around two months.”
The 10-year deal was signed in July 2015 and implemented in January 2016. We’re now in January 2020. How fast has that gone for you? Iran knew it could afford to wait. Government-sponsored protesters in Iran regularly burn American, Israeli and Saudi flags and chant “Death to America! Death to Israel” Do you trust that their bark is worse than their bite?
It’s not the assassination of Qasem Soleimani that has made the world less safe. It’s the murderous regime of the nearly-nuclear ayatollahs. Those who believe that Soleimani’s demise is a tragedy are barking up the wrong tree.