Your View

Reaching out to the Iranian People

This is a guest post by Jacob S

During the heightened tensions between Iran and the West, it is important that the Iranian people know that they are not the target of the opprobrium. Earlier in the year, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israel’s President Shimon Peres sent direct messages to the Iranian people on the occasion of the Iranian new year. Due to the recent sanctions regime placed on Iran by the international community and the recent escalation in tensions resulting from the opening of the Bushehr nuclear plant, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon sent a new message to the Iranian people. The tone of the message, sent via a Farsi radio station, was that Israel bears no animosity to the Iranian people, but the problem is intrinsic to the Iranian regime. Ayalon also told the Iranian people that Israel supports their efforts to liberate themselves from the burden of their oppressive regime.

This is a synopsis of what he said:

“Israel bears no animosity towards the Iranian people. We have deep respect and aspire to cooperate with them to bring about a better reality in the region. The problem is intrinsic to the Iranian regime and its conduct, particularly regarding the nuclear issue. This is a regime that calls for ‘Death to the United States, Great Britain and Israel’. The Iranian regime spreads instability, supports terror, and oppresses its own people. It is impossible to accept atomic weapons in the hands of such a regime.

The Iranian reactor constitutes a tremendous danger to the stability of the entire region and to world peace in general because, besides nuclear armaments, Iran is also developing a missile system that threatens countries beyond the Middle East, such as Europe. Nuclear weapons in Iran’s hands will enable it to threaten all the Arab governments with its present means (subversive elements in various countries, agents, and so forth). Even now it controls bodies that function as a state within a state, in Lebanon, Yemen, the Palestinian Authority, and other places.

Another point that does not always come up in the Iranian context, due to the nuclear threat, is the glaring violation of civil rights inside Iran. This is an aggressive dictatorial regime, and all progressive elements throughout the world should take action against it, if only for that reason. Israel congratulates the Iranian people for their efforts to liberate themselves from the burden of the oppressive regime. At international forums, Israel has raised the issue of the suffering of the Iranian people and the cruelty of the regime ruling them. That is the main thing we can do for such an illustrious nation suffering from oppression. But in the end, it is the Iranian people themselves who must take their fate in their own hands and act to achieve their rights. The more the citizens of Iran increase their protest activities, the higher the international support will be.”

In response to a question regarding the likelihood of regional war, the deputy minister replied that :”There is always the possibility of sudden, unplanned deterioration due to one action or another. Israel is committed to defending its citizens and if attacked will act accordingly. A fear exists that Iran – as it becomes more pressured by sanctions – will goad those under its patronage in Hizbullah and Hamas to initiate military action against Israel. There’s also a possibility that Iran will make a military move against the Arab Gulf states and harm the flow of oil to the world, in which case the entire situation will degrade into widespread confrontations. Remember that the sanctions are aimed against Iran’s efforts to arm itself with nuclear weapons, and if they don’t elicit results, the United States and other nations might consider other options.”

This is not the first time that Ayalon has reached out to in countries which are hostile to Israel. Last year, he penned an historic “Open Letter to the Arab World” in English and Arabic in Asharq Alawsat. These sort of messages are vital to bring dialogue to achieve a greater understanding between peoples.