This is guest post by Mikey
Much has been made of Barack Obama’s new year message to the Iranian population, but less has been said of the Israeli President Shimon Peres’s similar message.
The stark difference between the way the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran comment on Israel and how Israel responds is expressed well by Peres:
when the current regime in Iran is calling for the destruction of Israel, we call for Iran to prosper.
As the message is not that long, I believe that it is worthwhile copying it in full:
Dear citizens of Iran,
IRANIAN-EH AZIZ, RUZ-EH NOV VANORUZE BASTANT BEH SHOMA KHOSH BAD
With great happiness I would like to wish you, on the occasion of your holiday of Nowruz, a holiday of renewal that brings joy and hope for a new day, for better days, and for a new and blessed year. What a joy it is, this, your historical holiday that you have celebrated and kept for generations.
The people of Israel have lofty historical memories from the period in which Iran thrived in a variety of fields and contributed to the world, among other things, Cyrus’s ancient Bill of Rights, and to the Jewish people, our right to return to our land from the Babylonian Exile in order to establish the Temple in Jerusalem. Iran and its people therefore have a special place in our heritage.
Our relations with the Iranian people have also known good times in the modern period. We shared our experience in agriculture, industry, and scientific and medical development, and we cultivated the best possible relations.
To our great sadness, relations between our countries are at their lowest point. This derives from the leaders of your country, who are driven to act in every way possible against the State of Israel and its people, and even to threaten us with their intention to destroy us. I ask myself how a noble people like you can be caught up in a blind hatred like this, how you chose a leader who scorns the people who were murdered by the Nazis, and who wants to destroy and kill another country. You believe in God, and we believe in God, but in a God of life and respect, not a God of death and hate. I am sure that the day is not far when we will return to good neighborly relations, and effective cooperation will blossom once again, in every arena, for the benefit of our people and our shared futures.
At this time, when the current regime in Iran is calling for the destruction of Israel, we call for Iran to prosper. We remember Cyrus the Great, who is noted in the Bible as the liberating king, and we remember that our people lived in Iran for many generations, sharing in the building of the land and contributing to to its welfare and culture. We are certain and hopeful that the darkness and the evil will disappear from the world for the good of all of humanity.
On the occasion of the new year, I turn to the noble Iranian people in the name of the ancient Jewish people, and I wish that they will return to reclaim their rightful place amongst the enlightened nations of the world. They will be respected and not hated, and just as they have in the past, I am certain that they will make great cultural contributions in the future.
I will conclude with the traditional blessing:
NORUZETAN PIRUZ HAR RUZETAN NORUZ BA
I was not actually aware of this message until a correspondent I have in Iran emailed it to me today. Despite Iranian bloggers being arrested and some of them dying in prison, Iran have a high Internet usage. The fact that I heard about Shimon Peres’s message from an Iranian speaks volumes.
Conservative commentators, Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin in their excellent book, Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos, note the contradictions in Iranian society:
Young men might chant “Death to America” in the morning, but return to home to watch American soap operas on their illegal satellite receivers. Woman sporting the cloaking chandormight be concealing the latest Western fashion and hairdos. Millions of Iranian youth are more likely to argue about the Chicago Bulls’ NBA draft picks that questions of religious jurisprudence.
There appears to be a significant opposition to the current regime by Iranians in Iran, the problem is that they are not sufficiently organised in a cohesive way to rebel against the regime. Whilst a new revolution against the current regime does not seem to be in the air, the population contains a large proportion of people under the age of thirty and the simmering kettle may well start to boil over. One can only hope it does before the leadership become close to getting their hands on a nuclear bomb.