Explaining Iran to a five-year old

I’m biased, but trust me when I say that my grandson has an amazing memory for a five-year old.

Iran talks in Geneva November 20 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
Iran talks in Geneva November 20 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
The recent interim agreement between the P5+1 and Iran over its nuclear program has generated a mind-boggling amount of commentary about technical phrases like “breakout capacity” and “enrichment rights.” While these discussions are important, it is also crucial that we not lose sight of the reason these negotiations have even occurred: the world’s serious concerns with Iran, given its violent and threatening actions, and its attempts to develop a nuclear weapon. For me, a recent conversation with my grandson put things into their proper perspective.
My son, daughter-in-law and their two children live in Rehovot. I’m biased, but trust me when I say that my grandson has an amazing memory for a five-year old.
He is, in fact, able to identify the make and model of almost any car on the street.
While on a walk one day, he pointed out a Mazda and a Nissan. In response, I told him that he could say “Mazda is fooya; Nissan is fooya!” (“fooya” is Israeli children’s slang for something they don’t like). Of course, being a curious five-year-old, he asked “Why?” I told him that Mazda, Nissan and others make cars in Iran, and are thereby helping support its leaders.
You can already guess his next question: “Why is Iran bad?” This was the hard part. I didn’t want to go into too much detail, but I did tell him that Iran’s leaders provide rockets that are used to hurt innocent people.
I don’t think my grandson understood what a rocket is or what damage it can do, nor did I try to explain it to him. I wish he would never have to think about such matters; he shouldn’t be thinking about them now.
I thought about how just one year ago, a rocket supplied by Iran was fired from Gaza, flew over my grandson’s city, and slammed into an eight-story apartment building in Rishon Lezion, a few miles to the north.
I also thought about how just 90 miles (145 km.) from where we stood, Iran was helping the regime of President Bashar Assad murder thousands of Syrian children.
As I thought of all I could not tell my grandson, my anger grew over the fact that so many major-multinational companies like Mazda and Nissan continue to do business-as-usual with Iran, and are thereby helping the Iranian regime continue its destructive actions.
If the CEOs of Nissan or Mazda had grandchildren living in Israel or Syria, would they still be doing business in Iran, including selling automobiles that are used to transport IRGC officials, and ferry around rockets? Of course, Nissan and Mazda are not the only multinational companies doing business in Iran.
Actually there are hundreds, including Ericsson, LG, MTN and Lufthansa. According to US law, American companies are only allowed to do business in Iran for humanitarian reasons, mainly the sale of food and medicine. The same is true for Canada.
Yet for a lot of companies in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, it’s still business as usual Just one week before visiting my grandson, on November 20 Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Israelis “cannot be called human beings.” Khamenei threatened that “the Israeli regime is doomed to failure and annihilation.”
The international community’s response to Khamenei’s threatening comments? Silence and apathy.
Certainly not as much talk as there regularly is about Iran’s “moderate” and “charming” new president and foreign minister. I am also frustrated with an international media so wrapped up in the possibility of a “diplomatic breakthrough,” yet so uninterested in shining a light on the business being done by multinational companies in Iran. If people knew this information, would they continue to buy the products of these companies? The presence of multinational companies in Iran gives legitimacy to the Iranian regime as a government, and indirectly helps fund terrorist and the murderous regime of Assad. It also helps perpetuate the horrible human rights situation in Iran, and takes focus away from repeated genocidal threats against Israel by Iranian leaders.
Moreover, the business-as-usual status quo in Iran gives the regime a free pass to continue to violate six United Nations Security Council resolutions that demand it suspend its enrichment activities.
Let us be clear in our understanding that the interim deal reached in Geneva did not put an end to all of these concerns. Only continued economic pressure on Iran will do that, and that will require each of us to do our part.
As for the CEO’s of companies doing business in Iran, I would like to see them to sit down with an Israeli or Syrian five-year-old and try to explain why they continue to support Iran. I can guarantee that if enough of us boycott their products, they would care a whole lot more.
The author is outreach coordinator for the non-partisan advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran.