Thursday, February 09, 2006

Iran is not Ahmadinejad

WHO is writing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scripts? George Dubya Bush, Tony Blair, or Benyamin Natanyahu? Having called the Nazi Holocaust of European Jewry a "myth", the president said if Western powers felt guilty for what was done to Jews they should have created a Jewish homeland in Europe rather than Palestine.

That might be a valid point if he had not dismissed the Nazi genocide as a "myth" to start with; if he lecturing students, exposing imperialist motives, the misuse of the Holocaust to silence critics of Israel, or the injustice of casting Christian Europe's guilt feelings onto Arabs and Muslims. Whether it was the right thing to be saying now, as president, when Iran is facing isolation, and a confrontation with the US superpower, is another matter.

Ahmadinejad's people need all the friends they can get, and a president who can break through hostile Western media to win respect. Not one who - notwithstanding his presumed teetotal abstinence - sounds like some loudmouth on a bar stool amusing his mates with what he thinks is wit, then looking around to see if he has offended anybody enough to get a fight going.

Palestinians have just cause to fight Israeli occupation and claim their freedom. They don't need second-hand European racism, fables about a mystical conspiracy, or denial of a Holocaust for which they were not responsible and the consequences of which they are still suffering.
They are not struggling against the fantastic "Elders of Zion" but against the Zionist settlers, state, and world Zionist movement.

Proclaiming that Israel should be "wiped off the map" might not be so bad if we were discussing future political arrangements (see my earlier blog "War kills people not maps", October 29). After all Palestine was wiped off the map in 1948, and Israeli maps after 1967 didn't even bother to depict the state's recognised borders. But in a speech when Iran is being accused of preparing nuclear weapons, it was just what Israeli warmongers like Netanyahu and their imperialist allies needed to build up a war scare, while hardly reassuring for the Palestinians.

People who still keep keys to the houses they left in Jaffa, or cling tenaciously to their homes in occupied Jerusalem, don't want to return to a radio-active homeland.

Nor do they need their cause conflated with the Nazi Holocaust. Yet just in case the world was ready to excuse Ahmadinejad's earlier remarks as merely a gaffe, or to believe the Iranian president's meaning had been misrepresented, he announces an invitation to Holocaust revisionists to gather in Iran. David Irving, more used to addressing the kind of boneheads that attack mosques, is to meet the mullahs, Austrian prison term permitting. Born-again Orthodox Christian and multi-passported provocateur Israel Shamir, who once tried to sell Irving a load of Nazi documents, may join him.

A right-wing Iranian newspaper, trying to make the most of the great cartoon row, announces it will reply to European vilification of the Prophet by inviting cartoons about - the Holocaust. A bit of a diversion, but not a harmless one.

Let's not forget that the main centre of the Holocaust denial industry isn't in the Middle East, nor in Germany, but in "the Land of the Free" itself, good old America. The Institute of Historical Review is based in California, a near neighbour to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre which scans the world discovering "antisemites" among opponents of Israel! (Ironically, much Zionist ire was recently directed at left-wing and pro-Palestinian people in Norway, now a hapless target of protests against the notorious Danish cartoon. Makes you wonder)

It's not the first time the California-based revisionists have gone prospecting in the Middle East, but when they tried to hold a conference in Lebanon, Palestinians protested, whereas this time Iran's president is inviting them. With such "friends" being welcomed to their country as guests, the Iranian people don't need enemies. But they have plenty, and their president is finding more.

Netanyahu, running for election, and telling anyone who listens to him that Hamas is both an offshoot of Iran and "like Hitler", must be delighted. So is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee(AIPAC), whose highly-organised professional and vociferous lobbying is resented by many American Jews but listened to by too many American congressmen and media. Linking the Holocaust and nuclear issues, it has announced a national convention to "stop Iran"; to ready the American public for yet another war, in other words.

Whether it comes to war, or UN sanctions, the people who will suffer are ordinary Iranians, already losing out from the Iranian president's failure to deliver on helping the poor as he promised. But as with Saddam Hussein, Ahmadinejad may hope that by posturing against imperialism (or in his case, perhaps blaming imperialism on the "Zionists"), he can focus popular feeling on the enemies outside, even as he prepares to sell out, and get away with repression against Iran's workers, intellectuals, and dissident young. It is a dangerous game

  • For the left and peace movement in the West, it must go without question that we not only oppose the hypocrisy of our nuclear-armed governments denouncing Iran's nuclear programme, but oppose the threat of sanctions and war against Iran.

  • But this does not mean we have to paint Ahmadinrejad or his regime as innocent or progressive. Our allies and comrades remain the working people of Iran and the left-wing, socialist Iranians fighting, whether undergound or in exile, for democracy, internationalism and progress. If we forget, as some in the anti-war movement do, we dishonour our own movement and do no service to peace, or the Iranian people.

And now here is an important statement from

Workers Left Unity of Iran:

Iran: Anti-war movement, Nuclear Industry and the threat of sanctions

As the anti war movement contemplates the possibility of sanctions against Iran it is essential to remember a number of points:

1 - The attempts by the United States and the European Union to stop Iran obtaining nuclear technology is unjust. The IAEA protocols to prevent nuclear proliferation are unacceptable from the point of view of either principle or legality. Countries which themselves possess sufficient nuclear weaponry to destroy the world several times over - and are continuing to add to their arsenal - are laying down the law to others - or some of them. The US and its EU allies have for decades turned a blind eye to Israel. To most Iranians it looks like some people have sovereignty while others do not.

2 - Iran is still a long way from development and deployment of nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants and enriching Uranium are not the fastest way of obtaining nuclear weapons.

3 - Iran's current strength in the region is a direct consequence of the US/UK invasion of Iraq and the coming to power of a Shia pro Iran government in Baghdad. The recent pronouncements by the governments of USA and UK regarding Iran's nuclear program are more to do with Iran's close relations with all factions of the occupation government in Iraq and the long term consequences of such influence.

4 - Any support by the anti war movement for current Iran's rulers will lead to indirect support for the occupation government in Iraq and in confrontation with ordinary Iranians and Iraqis who are victims of the privatisation policies of super rich corrupt clerics or civilians in power in both countries.

5 - Two wrongs don't make a right and just because the United States is opposed to Iran's nuclear policy, the left inside and outside Iran cannot take an opportunist position of defending nuclear proliferation in Iran while opposing it in the rest of the world.

a - Iran, a country with the second largest oil and gas reserves in the world doesn't need nuclear power.

b - In embarking on an unprecedented program of privatisation, accompanied by systematic non payment of workers wages including in the state sector, Iran's rulers have constantly blamed financial difficulties. Many in Iran are questioning the wisdom of spending astronomic sums on the purchase of nuclear technology in the 'black market' by a regime that claims to be short of funds for paying wages to public sector employees.

6 - Over the last few years every day, and at times more than once a day, workers in Iranian cities and towns have protested against non payment of wages, unemployment, job insecurity, and low wages... For most Iranians, Shia Islam in power, has become synonymous with corruption, greed and clerics gathering huge fortunes. In Iran they call them 'Mercedes driven mullahs', accumulating astronomic wealth, at the expense of the poverty of the masses.

7 - The main victim of any sanctions will be ordinary people in Iran most of whom are opposed to the current regime and many of whom have been involved in social and political movements against this regime. The anti war movement should oppose sanctions against Iran emphasizing that it will make the rich clerics richer and the poor poorer.

8 - The solidarity of the anti war movement should be directed primarily towards the Iranian people and in support of the daily struggles of Iranian workers for the right to survive.

In the week when news about Iran is dominated by decisions to be made by IAEA, it is worth reminding everyone outside Iran that inside the country the most important event of the week was the brutal attack of the security forces on the bus strike of 28th Jan 2006 and the subsequent arrest of 1200 workers who defended the right to set up independent unions.

Show your solidarity with Iran by supporting the majority of its population, Iran’s workers and toilers against international capital, against war mongers but also against the pro capitalist Islamist in power in Iran. Join us in building a genuine solidarity campaign with the Iranian people.

heyat Hamhangi Etehadchap Kargari Iran - Workers Left Unity)

12 Bahman 1384 1 Feb 2006



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