In light of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Congress this week and the continuation of Iranian nuclear talks, it is important to understand Iran’s history of Islamist threats against both Israel and the United States. For Part I of this analysis, click here.
Briefly, Shiite doctrine on jihad evolved to be indistinguishable from its Sunni counterpart by the late 13th century, i.e., open-ended warfare against non-Muslims. Iran’s theocratic Shiite Safavid and Qajar dynasties, its primary rulers from 1501-1925 (i.e., barring a period of Sunni Afghan invasion, internecine turmoil, and the heterodox reign of Nadir Shah, covering ~ 70 years during the 18th century), fully implemented this warfare doctrine, including the notion that jihad was more laudable in the absence of the 12th imam.
Al-Amili (d. 1622), a distinguished jurist under Shah Abbas I, encapsulated these views in his authoritative manual of Islamic Law. He wrote, “Jihad against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam, or pay the poll-tax (per Koran 9:29)”
Predatory jihad campaigns (under the longest reigning Safavid Shah Tahmasp, r. 1524-1576) waged against Christian Georgia—punctuated by massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation—were consistent with this doctrine. The killing of non-combatants during jihad campaigns was fully sanctioned according to the prominent 14th, and 18th (to early 19th) century Shiite jurists, respectively, Allameh Helli [Hilli](d. 1325), and Sayyid Ali Tabatabai (d. 1816). Allameh Helli maintained there was a consensus among Shiite legalists that if defeating the enemy required attacking and killing children, women, and the elderly, then these actions were to be undertaken. Ali Tabatabai invoked Muhammad’s campaigns against the Medinan Jewish tribe Banu Nadir and his siege of Taif to justify such actions
This shared, mainstream Sunni and Shiite doctrine on jihad is the validating context in which Iran’s 1979 Constitutional provision on its self-proclaimed “Ideological Army” must be evaluated. Animated by the ideology of jihad, The Islamic Republic’s aggressive, conquering Weltanschauung, is self-evident. Invoking Koran 8:60, the 1979 Iranian Constitution declares:
In the formation and equipping of the country’s defense forces, due attention must be paid to faith and ideology as the basic criteria. Accordingly, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are to be organized in conformity with this goal, and they will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of Allah’s law throughout the world (this is in accordance with the Koranic verse “Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster, and strings of horses, striking fear into the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them” [8:60]).
The late Ayatollah Montazeri (d. December, 2009) represents the putatively “reformist” Green Movement’s eternal “spiritual” inspiration. Notwithstanding his lionization, consistent with the ethos of Iran’s 1979 constitution, Montazeri’s copiously documented views—his Shiite Islamic juridical writings, memoirs, interviews, and speeches—reveal full-throated support for open-ended, aggressive jihad warfare to destroy Israel, fight the U.S., and establish global Islamic suzerainty, and the universal application of Sharia:
Very soon through a billion strong march by all the Muslims of the world, we can liberate beloved Jerusalem, destroy usurping Israel, and place the destiny of Islam and the Muslims in their own hands…The Muslims should clearly recognize the main danger to Islam and the Islamic lands, which is the United States and international Zionism… One cannot fight against the United States and Zionism merely by holding meetings and chanting slogans. The ulema of Islam and all the Muslims should make some serious decisions… There are more than 300 verses in the Koran about jihad, which are unfortunately forgotten, and about 60 books of Islamic jurisprudence are devoted to political issues, economics, judicial matters, punishments, and similar subjects. In view of this it is regrettable that the enemies of Islam and the colonialists succeeded in influencing the thoughts and attitudes of Muslims and of the ulema and Islamic writers and preachers. These enemies took away from them their Islamic character, and said that religion is separate from politics… He [Muhammad] did not sit in a corner and merely pray, although all his prayers would have been answered. On the contrary, he [Muhammad] carried out an uprising and had about 80 military clashes. He [Muhammad] called on the Muslims to arise, and he established a just government and powerfully implemented Allah’s laws, injunctions, and justice among the people… In the Mahdi’s occultation period, jihad is not to be abandoned; even if occultation lasts for a hundred thousand years, Muslims have to defend and fight for the expansion of Islam. Certainly, if in early Islam the goodness was in the sword, in our time the goodness is in artillery, tanks, automatic guns and missiles.
Less than three weeks after the November 24, 2013 announcement of an interim agreement between Iran and the P5 +1 powers, during an interview which aired December 11, 2013, Iranian Middle East analyst Mohammad Sadeq al-Hosseini provided a candid assessment of the negotiations, vis-à-vis the doctrine of jihad. El-Hosseini, a former political advisor to both Iran’s alleged reformist ex-President Khatami and the Khatami regime’s erstwhile Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ata’ollah Mohajerani (also deemed a “moderate”), underscored the ancient Islamic doctrinal bases for the contemporary Iranian theocracy’s geo-politics. Invoking the armistice “Treaty of Hudaybiyya” agreement between Muhammad and the 7th century pagan Quraysh tribe of Mecca, which Islam’s prophet-warrior unilaterally abrogated as soon Muhammad’s jihadist forces achieved the military superiority needed to vanquish his Meccan foes, el-Hosseini declared:
This is the Treaty of Hudaybiyya in Geneva, and it will be followed by a “conquest of Mecca.”
Consistent with Muhammad’s tactical formulation when waging jihad, “War is deceit” (from the canonical hadith “traditions” of the Muslim prophet), the Islamic doctrine of takiya, or kitman (“concealment”; “disguise”), and the modern parallel of Soviet Communist deceit and conspiracy (especially during arms control negotiations), el-Hosseini also noted,
Incidentally, for your information, when you conduct political negotiations with Iran, you lose even when you think you have won. The [Iranians] have raised the level of uranium enrichment far beyond the level they really needed, so that when the level would be lowered, they would emerge victorious.
El-Hosseini further insisted the Geneva deal augured America’s eventual jihad conquest during Iran’s ongoing “fierce war with Americans on all levels.” While this claim appears dubious, at present, El-Hosseini contended, aptly, that the agreement marked near-term U.S. capitulation to Iran’s oft-repeated threat to destroy Israel by jihad—including via nuclear weapons.
Obama had to make a great retreat. He was forced to accept a handshake from President Rouhani [Rouhani], whom he considered a kind of Gorbachev or Sadat, so that the day would not come when he would be forced to kiss the hands of [Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah]Hassan Nasrallah and [Supreme Leader of Iran] Imam Khamenei, so that they would hold their fire in the great war that was prepared to annihilate Israel.
Eighteen months earlier (on June 6, 2012), Iran’s Fars News agency published an interview with el-Hosseini during which he quoted sura (chapter) 59, verse 14 of the Koran, a reference to Muhammad’s brutal, sanguinary jihad conquests of Arabian (especially Medinan) Jewry, which concluded with the capture of Jews’ final refuge at the Khaybar oasis:
This matter is exactly the meaning of the Koranic verse, “They will not fight against you all together except in fortified cities, or from behind walls.”… The circumstances of Khaybar [are present today as well, because the Jews are fighting] from behind a wall. This means that they have reached the limit of their capabilities and options, and are no longer willing to leave their homes. Consider that Israel is a small and very narrow coastal country and does not have the strategic or geopolitical ability to defend itself, and it could disappear at any moment. These people could flee en masse. As [Yahya Rahim] Safavi said, under circumstances of all-out war, a million Israelis will flee the occupied territories [i.e., Israel] in the first week [of the war]. This is no exaggeration.
El-Hosseini’s June 6, 2012 remarks are an appropriate segue to the canonical Islamic Jew-hatred which pervades contemporary Iranian religio-political discourse.
Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai (d. 1981), also known as Allamah Tabatabai, was a prolific writer whose influential Koranic studies and philosophical works remain widely read. Tabatabai’s Al-Mizān fi Tafsir al-Qur’an (“The measure of balance in the interpretation of the Quran”), is widely regarded as the most important 20th century Shiite Koranic commentary. Jane Dammen McCauliffe, an internationally recognized scholar of Koranic exegesis, concluded that the massive work
… testifies to his [Tabatabai’s] broad scholarly background and abiding interest in comparative religion and philosophy. In addition to etymological and grammatical discussions, it combines his own thoughts and elucidations of the passage under consideration with discourses on its moral implications or mystical-philosophical ramifications. [emphasis added]
Renowned Iranian Professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University and prominent contemporary Muslim philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr translated and wrote the preface to Tabatabai’s treatise, Shi’ite Islam. Professor Nasr referred to Tabatabai as, “a man who has devoted his whole life to the study of religion, in whom humility and the power of intellectual analysis are combined,” a “celebrated Shi’ite authority,” who produced the “monumental Quranic commentary, al-Mizan.” And Nasr reverently summarized Tabatabai’s purported unique combination of scholarship and spirituality, as follows:
Allamah Tabatabai represents that central and intellectually dominating class of Shi’ite ulama who have combined interest in jurisprudence and Quranic commentary with philosophy, theosophy, and Sufism and who represent a more universal interpretation of the Shi’ite point of view. Within the class of the traditional ulama, ’Allamah Tabatabai possesses the distinction of being a master of both the esoteric sciences and at the same time he is an outstanding hakim or traditional Islamic philosopher (or more exactly, “theosopher”).
Allameh [Allamah] Tabatabaei [Tabatabai] University, named in honor of this celebrated Shiite authority and “theosopher,” is the largest specialized state social sciences university in Iran and the Middle East, with 17000 students and 500 full-time faculty members. Affirming his continued lofty stature, and relevance, an Iranian national conference was held on May 3, 2012, in Qom, dedicated to “recognizing the interpretative methods and principles used by Allameh [Allamah] Tabatabaee [Tabatabai] in [his] Al-Mizan exegesis.” Allamah Tabatabai, modern doyen of Shiite Koranic exegesis, and “theosopher,” provides this general description of the Koranic portrayal of the Jews, beginning at Koran 2:40 to 2:44, and continuing for over a hundred verses thereafter:
Now begins the rebuking of the Jews that continues for more than a hundred verses. Allah reminds them of the bounties bestowed, of the honors given; contrasting it with their ingratitude and disobedience; showing how at every juncture they paid the favors of Allah with disregard of their covenant, open rebellion against divine commands and even with polytheism. The series reminds them of twelve events of their history — … all of which shows how they were chosen to receive the especial favors of Allah. But their ingratitude runs parallel to it. They repeatedly broke the covenants made with Allah, committed capital sins, heinous crimes and shameful deeds; more despicable was their spiritual poverty and moral bankruptcy — in open defiance to their book and total disregard to reason. It was all because their hearts were hardened, their souls lost and their endeavors worthless.
Tabatabai also offers a traditionalist gloss on Koran 2:61, 2:88-2:93 (esp. 2:90/91), and 3:112-3:116, which accuse the Jews of “prophet-killing,” “disbelief” in, and “disobedience” to, Allah, engendering His wrath, “hatching conspiracies” against Islam and the Muslim prophet Muhammad, and therefore, deserving permanent abasement, which was indeed “stamped” upon them.
[2:61] Their disobedience and perennial excesses caused them to reject the signs of Allah and kill the prophets… Needless to say that murder, and especially of the prophets, and rejection of the signs of Allah cannot be termed as mere disobedience. It should be the other way round. But if we take the disobedience to mean disclosing the secrets then it would be perfectly right to say that they killed the prophets, because they (disobeyed them and) did not keep their secrets and thus delivered them into the hands of their enemies who killed them.
[2:89-2:93] They knew that Muhammad was the awaited Prophet, because all the attributes and particulars mentioned in their books fitted on him perfectly. And yet they denied his truth… [T]hey returned doubly enraged. It may also mean that they invited double wrath of Allah upon themselves — the first because they disbelieved in Torah and the second because they disbelieved in the Quran. The verse says that they were partisans of the Prophet long before he was born; they prayed to Allah for victory by his name and his Book. When the Prophet was sent and the Quran was revealed, they very well recognized that he was the Prophet in whose name they used to pray for victory, and whose coming they awaited. But they were overwhelmed by envy and arrogance. No sooner did the Prophet begin his call then they denied his truth, and forgot all that they used to tell about the awaited prophet. It was not surprising as they had earlier disbelieved in Torah too. Thus they committed disbelief after disbelief, and invited the wrath of Allah upon themselves, not once but twice…“We believe in that which was revealed to us”. If this claim of yours is correct then why did you kill the prophets of Allah? And why did you disbelieve in Musa [Moses] by taking the calf for a god? And why did you say, “We hear and disobey”, when We took a promise from you and lifted the mountain over you?… “Evil is that which your belief bids you . . .”: It is a derisive expression ridiculing them for their killings of the prophets, their disbelief in Musa and their arrogance in committing sin after sin and then claiming that they were the true believers. The verse tauntingly asks them: Is this what your belief bids you?
[3:112-3:116] The verses, as you see, now revert to the original theme, describing the behavior of the People of the Book — and particularly the Jews —exposing their disbelief in the Divine Revelation, their going astray and their hindering the believers from the way of Allah… Abasement is stamped on them as a design is stamped on a coin, or it encompasses them as a tent encompasses a man. Anyhow, they are either branded with, or overwhelmed by abasement and humiliation — except when they get a protection or guarantee from Allah and a protection or guarantee from men. The word ‘‘protection’’ is repeated when referring to Allah and then to men, because the connotation differs from one place to the other. Protection* [* i.e., from the resumption of the jihad against them!]given by Allah is His decree and command, either creative or legislative; and that provided by men is their decision and action. Abasement is stamped on them; it means that Allah has ordained a law affirming their abasement. This meaning is supported by the proviso ‘‘wherever they are found’’. Obviously, it means that wherever the believers find them and subjugate them; this proviso is obviously more appropriate to legislative abasement, one of whose effects is the payment of the jizya. The meaning of the verse therefore is as follows: They are abased and humiliated, according to the law of Islamic Sharia…‘‘those who disbelieve’’ refers to the other groups of the People of the Book which did not respond to the call of the Prophet; those were the people who used to hatch conspiracies against Islam and had left no stone unturned in extinguishing the light of the truth… Obviously it describes the Jews’ behavior with the Muslims
In his gloss on Koran 3:181-185/189, Tabatabai reiterates these interpretations, (again) labeling the Jews as “prophet killers” who acted “knowingly and intentionally.” He also repeats the accusations of their “upsetting the Muslims affairs, rejecting the evidence of messenger-ship, and hiding what they had been enjoined to make known.”
Koran 5:64 is an overt, ancient Koranic warning of “Jewish conspiracism.” Tabatabai, adding a deliberate and transparent pejorative reference to the Jews of modern Israel, and their alleged promulgation of “ethnic supremacism,” glosses this verse as follows:
“whenever they kindle a fire for war Allah puts it out”: To kindle a fire is to inflame it, and to put it out is to extinguish it. The meaning is clear. There is another possibility that the clause: “whenever they kindle a fire,” explains the preceding clause: “and We put enmity and hatred . . .” Thus the meaning will be as follows: Whenever they kindled a fire of war against the Prophet and the believers, Allah puts it out by reviving their internal discords and differences. The context points to the divine decree that their endeavors in kindling the fire of war against the divine religion and against the Muslims (because of their belief in Allah and His signs) are bound to fail. However, it does not cover those wars, which the Jews might wage against the Muslims, not for religious motive, but because of politics, or because of ideas of racial or national superiority.
[T]he Jews, although they had the same alternatives as the Christians, and they could retain their religion with payment of the jizyah [Koranic poll tax, per verse 9:29], yet they continued in their haughtiness, became harder in their bigotry, and turned to double dealing and deception. They broke their covenants, eagerly waited calamities to befall the Muslims and dealt to them the bitterest deal…[T]he enmity of the Jews…toward the divine religion [Islam] and their sustained arrogance and bigotry, have continued exactly in the same manner even after the Prophet… These unchanged characteristics…confirm what the Mighty Book [the Koran] had indicated.
Not surprisingly, the rancorous Jew-hating bigotry of erudite “theosopher” Tabatabai is shared by Iran’s current theocratic leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and his henchmen. Khamenei, in a televised speech on May 18, 2001, when Iranian Jewry was still reeling from the shock of the (then) recent Shiraz show trials, attacked the Jews directly, labeling them enemies of Islam’s prophet Muhammad. The Iranian Supreme Guide threatened the Jews with expulsion and expropriation of their property, citing similar actions taken by Muhammad against Medinan Jewry, whose brutal proto-jihad campaigns also included pillage, the slaughter of Jewish men, and the enslavement of Jewish women and children. Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative in the Iranian Martyr Foundation, made a November, 2006 pronouncement redolent with both eschatological, and corporeal world (specifically, Koranic, i.e., verse 5:82), annihilationist Islamic Jew-hatred.
The Jew is the most obstinate enemy of the devout. [Koran 5:82]… And the main war will determine the destiny of mankind.… The reappearance of the twelfth Imam will lead to a war between Israel and the Shia.
During a January 2010 interview, Rahimian clearly articulated the purpose of Iran’s ballistic missile program, particularly if brandishing nuclear warheads:
We have manufactured missiles that allow us, when necessary, to replace (sic) Israel in its entirety with a big holocaust.
Ayatollah Khamenei himself, on November 9, 2014, reiterated his ceaseless call for the jihad annihilation of Israel, via his twitter account, in a “question and answer” tweet: Why should & how can #Israel be eliminated? Ayatollah Khamenei’s answer to 9 key questions. #HandsOffAlAqsa “9 key questions about elimination of Israel”. Khamenei argued that the “only means” of halting alleged “Israeli crimes,” was “the elimination of this regime.” He recommended, specifically, for this purpose,
The West Bank should be armed like Gaza…those who are interested in Palestine’s destiny should take action to arm the people of the West Bank.
Ayatollah Khamenei justified this call for an annihilationist jihad by concluding,
Yasser Arafat was poisoned and killed by Israel, while he had the most cooperation with the Zionists [which] proves that in the viewpoint of Israel, “peace” is simply a trick for more crimes and occupation.
A year earlier, during a Wednesday, November 20, 2013 speech before of 50,000 Basij militiamen, Khamenei proclaimed the following words, allegedly in reference to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
Is the Islamic system after a war with others? Sometimes this is heard from the enemies of Iran, such as from the sinister mouth of the unclean rabid dog of the region in the Zionist regime.
The next morning (Thursday, 11/21/13), a Twitter feed associated with Khamenei shared a photo of an Israel Defense Forces canine unit with the Ayatollah’s sentiments from Wednesday, 11/20/14, reiterated as a caption referring to The Jewish State:
Israel is the sinister, unclean, rabid dog of the region.
Khamenei’s vitriolic repetition of the words “unclean rabid dog” in reference to Netanyahu, and Israel/Jews, expose the third pillar of Iran’s hegemonic ideology: Shiite Islam’s dehumanizing concept of “najis,” or “uncleanliness/impurity” of non-Muslims in general, and Jews in particular. The late Professor Sorour Soroudi (d. 2002), who spent her youth in Iran, explained how:
Jews were frequently addressed in the streets as juhud-e-najis, ‘unclean Jew’. This is not merely an abusive address like ‘dirty Jew’, but one which signifies ritual impurity with far reaching practical implications. The other expression is sag-juhud, ‘Jew-dog’. Contrary to [the indigenous pre-Islamic faith of Persian] Zoroastrianism where dogs are cherished…in Islam dogs are in the same category as pigs and one the pollutant agents. As a result, and probably in order to spite dog-loving Zoroastrians, in Iranian Islamic culture dogs are often treated, with cruelty, and frequently harassed. Therefore, expressions such as sag-juhud and sag-armani, ‘Armenian dog’, signified both the impurity and the inferior social status of the religious minorities.
Green Movement spiritual inspiration Ayatollah Montazeri was the leading avatar of the contemporary revitalization of this odious doctrine in Iran. Professor Soroudi and Professor Eliz Sanasarian—both Iranian expatriates—have analyzed Montazeri’s views on najis, Sanasarian noting,
Montazeri saw nejasat [najis] in twelve items including blood, dogs, pigs, wine, and kafirs [i.e., primarily, non-Muslims]…A kafir’s body, including hair, nails, and body fluids was to be avoided. The purchase, sale, or receiving of meat and fat from either non-Muslim countries or a kafir were forbidden.”
Montazeri further argued that a non-Muslim’s (kafir’s) impurity was, “a political order from Islam and must be adhered to by the followers of Islam, and the goal [was] to promote general hatred toward those who are outside Muslim circles.” Such “hatred” was to assure that Muslims would not succumb to corrupt, i.e., non-Islamic thoughts. The image, below, and English translation of its Farsi caption, confirm that Montazeri personally abided this ugly doctrine: “This is Iran’s deceased Ayatollah Montazeri (d. December, 2009) in the photograph where he rejected shaking the hand of a fellow Jewish Iranian. He declined the handshake because he did not want to become dirty (najis) and his cleanliness despoiled for his ‘Salaat’ preparation (for prayer, as a Muslim), by contacting the (najis, infidel) Jew.”
But Montazeri’s views on najis merely reflected an historical continuum of mainstream, authoritative Shiite thought. Mohammad Baqer Majlisi (d. 1699), the highest institutionalized clerical officer under both Shah Sulayman (1666-1694) and Shah Husayn (1694-1722), is recognized as the most influential cleric of the Safavid Shiite theocracy in Persia, the Ayatollah Khomeini of his era. In his magnum opus Bihar al-anwar (“Oceans of Light”), Majlisi clarifies the two aspects of the non-Muslim’s ostensible najis, “impurity.” The first concerns “spiritual impurity” caused by “their essential nastiness, and the corruption of their beliefs.” The second aspect flows logically from the first: the concrete, physical impurity, frequently called “juridical impurity”, i.e., an impurity defined by legal prescriptions. Majlisi’s treatise, “Lightning Bolts Against the Jews,” despite its title, was actually an overall guideline to anti-dhimmi (infidels subjugated by jihad, and subjected to a pact of submission, or “dhimma”, that spares their lives) regulations for all non-Muslims within the Shiite theocracy. Al-Majlisi, in this treatise, describes the standard humiliating requisites for non-Muslims living under the Sharia, first and foremost, the blood ransom jizya poll-tax, based on Koran 9:29. He then enumerates six other restrictions relating to worship, housing, dress, transportation, and weapons (specifically, i.e., to render the dhimmis defenseless), before outlining the unique Shiite impurity or “najis” regulations, as per their “juridical impurity.” And he concludes the section of najis regulations by stating, “It would also be better if the ruler of the Muslims would establish that all infidels could not move out of their homes on days when it rains or snows because they would make Muslims impure.”
Soroudi, in her 1994 treatise on najis, observed that “the yellow, red, or orange badge of shame was used in Shiite communities as a precautionary means against accidental contact with Jews.” Below is an enumeration from the travelogue account of Israel Joseph Benjamin (1818-1864) of the major “oppressions” suffered by Persian Jews that he observed during the mid-19th century, largely “inspired” by the doctrine of najis:
-Throughout Persia the Jews are obliged to live in a part of town separated from the other inhabitants; for they are considered as unclean creatures, who bring contamination with their intercourse and presence.
-Even in the streets of their own quarter of the town they are not allowed to keep open any shop. They may only sell there spices and drugs, or carry on the trade of a jeweler, in which they have attained great perfection.
-Under the pretext of their being unclean, they are treated with the greatest severity, and should they enter a street, inhabited by Mussulmans [Muslims], they are pelted by the boys and mob with stones and dirt.
-For the same reason they are forbidden to go out when it rains; for it is said the rain would wash dirt off them, which would sully the feet of the Mussulmans.
-If a Jew is recognized as such in the streets, he is subjected to the greatest of insults. The passers-by spit in his face, and sometimes beat him so unmercifully and is obliged to be carried home.
-If a Persian kills a Jew, and the family of the deceased can bring forward two Mussulmans as witnesses to the fact, the murderer is punished by a fine of 12 tumauns (600 piastres); but if two such witnesses cannot be produced, the crime remains unpunished, even though it has been publicly committed, and is well known.
-If a Jew enters a shop to buy anything, he is forbidden to inspect the goods, but must stand at respectful distance and ask the price. Should his hand incautiously touch the goods, he must take them at any price the seller chooses for them.
-Sometimes the Persians intrude into the dwellings of the Jews and take possession of whatever pleases them. Should the owner make the least opposition in defense of his property, he incurs the danger of atoning for it with his life.
-Upon the least dispute between a Jew and a Persian, the former is immediately dragged before the Achund [Muslim cleric] and, if the complainant can bring forward two witnesses, the Jew is condemned to pay a heavy fine. If he is too poor to pay this penalty in money, he must pay it in his person. He is stripped to the waist, bound to a stake, and receives forty blows with a stick. Should the sufferer utter the least cry of pain during this proceeding, the blows already given are not counted, and the punishment is begun afresh.
-In the same manner, the Jewish children, when they get into a quarrel with those of the Mussulmans, are immediately lead before the Achund [Muslim cleric], and punished with blows.
-A Jew who travels in Persia is taxed in every inn and every caravanserai he enters. If he hesitates to satisfy any demands that may happen to be made on him, they fall upon him, and maltreat him until he yields to their terms.
– If a Jew shows himself in the street during the three days of Katel [i.e., Ashoura] (feast of the mourning for the death of the Persian founder of the religion of Ali) he is sure to be murdered.
Jean Schopfer, nom de plume Claude Anet (d. 1931), was a tennis player who reached two singles finals at the Amateur French Championships, winning in 1892 and losing in 1893. Schopfer/Anet’s Through Persia in a Motor-Car, published in English translation during 1907, chronicled his ~1905 first-hand observations of the chronic plight of Iran’s Jews under Iran’s Qajar dynasty Shiite theocracy, despite the alleged “Constitutional movement” era reforms. Anet’s blunt travelogue noted the continued application of Shiite Islam’s “najis” regulations, and the Jews overall vulnerable, and degraded status.
Living in the midst of a fanatical and hostile population, Jews in Persia are reduced to the last extremity of degradation. Nearly all trades are forbidden to them; everything they touch is considered defiled. They cannot even live in the house of a Mussulman. There is very little justice in Persia for anybody—for the Jews there is none at all. Every possible exaction is practiced on them; nobody takes their part; and they live in appalling poverty, while their moral and physical degradation is beyond description.
Through 1923, Jews reported being restricted from leaving their ghettos on rainy or snowy days, at risk of being beaten severely, if recognized by Muslims.
Worst of all, the dehumanizing character of these popularized najis regulations fomented recurring Muslim violence against Iranian Jews, including pogroms and forced conversions throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. During 1909-1910, for example, historians Walter Fischel and David Littman chronicled major anti-Jewish pogroms in Kermanshah (a “common” occurrence in 1909), and Shiraz, respectively.
Negating the Westernizing, and secularizing, reforms of the 1925-1979 Pahlavi era, conditions for all Iran’s non-Muslims religious groups deteriorated with the ascent to power of Khomeini and his coterie in 1979, effectively returning these minorities to their debased “dhimmi” status during the Safavid-Qajar eras. Law Professor Ann Mayer’s has demonstrated how Iranian Constitution, subservient to Sharia norms—in her words, a “Sharia-based system”—subjects non-Muslim minorities to legalized discriminations. Iranian Jewish human rights lawyer Pooya Dayanim characterized in 2003 how other discriminatory liabilities implicit in Iran’s legal code are exploited fully, worsening the plight of Iran’s Jews, now just a vestigial remnant population of perhaps 8800 souls. These include: the imposition of collective punishment on a Jewish community for an individual act; a “contract of silence” regarding anti-Jewish discrimination and persecution; and an unrelenting campaign of virulent antisemitism openly expressed by the Iranian media, and religious and political hierarchy. Nine years later, the U.S. Department of State’s 2012 International Religious Freedom Report on Iran acknowledged bluntly that, “Antisemitism remained a problem”—indeed an official Iranian government policy:
the Jewish community experienced official discrimination. Government officials continued to make antisemitic statements, organize events designed to deny the Holocaust, and sanction antisemitic propaganda. Such propaganda involved official statements, media outlets, publications, and books.
The report further noted that, “many Jews sought to limit their contact with or support for the state of Israel due to fear of reprisal, and “Anti-American and anti-Israeli demonstrations included the denunciation of Jews,” specifically, not merely of “Israel” and “Zionism.”
One particularly ghoulish, murderous incident was alluded to by the State Department, and elaborated upon elsewhere. The brutal slaying occurred on Monday, November 26, 2012, in the Iranian city of Isfahan, home to a mere 100 remaining Jewish families. Muslim neighbors, in what her family insisted was a religiously motivated crime related to a property dispute, attacked, and murdered Tuba N. She and her family had been harassed for years in an ongoing effort to drive them from their home, and seize the property for the adjoining mosque. Alleged “religious radicals” had “even expropriated part of the house and attached it to the mosque’s courtyard.” Seeking redress, the Jewish family, assisted by a local attorney, appealed to the courts despite lethal threats. While her husband was in Tehran on a business trip, Muslim assailants “broke into her [Tuba N.’s] home, tied up her two sisters who were living with her, and repeatedly stabbed her to death.” The Times of Israel report added these grisly details about the murder, and the subsequent behavior of local authorities:
Afterward, her attackers allegedly butchered her body and cut off her hands, a sister who witnessed the event told her relatives in the U.S.…Iranian authorities were said to have not returned the woman’s dismembered body to her family and have tried to cover up the case.
A subsequent report identified the 57-year-old Jewish woman victim as Toobah Nehdaran, and disputed the claim local Iranian authorities had withheld Nehdaran’s body from the family, but confirmed the gruesome nature of her killing:
Our investigation indicates that the victim’s body was surrendered to the family and the local rabbis, who had requested it on Nov. 29…. People who have seen the body talk of mutilation as a result of multiple stabbings following the strangulation of the victim.
Hoping to raise public awareness of the murder, an ad-hoc group of Iranian- Jewish activists in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., created the Jewbareh Committee—named after the ancient Jewish ghetto in Isfahan where Toobah Nehdaran was killed. The committee dismissed “robbery” as a plausible motive, “because the victim’s family was poor and living in a dilapidated home in one of the poorest areas of Isfahan.” Consistent with the mid-19th century travelogue of Benjamin, and Iranian expatriate novelist Farideh Goldin’s recent autobiographical account of the history of similar depredations by Muslims against the Jews of the Shiraz ghetto, during the Ashura commemorations, Jewbareh Committee members surmised,
Nehdaran’s murder may have been premeditated because it took place during the Islamic month of Muharram, a holy time for religious Shiite Muslims, when they publicly mourn the killing of their prophet Hussein through large public rallies, as well as a time when religious fanatics have, for centuries, killed non- Muslims in Iran.
The Islamic Republic of Iran melds Islam’s totalitarian religious zealotry—a living embodiment of aggressive jihadism and Sharia supremacism—to Shi’ism’s najis-inspired Jew-hatred. Having forcibly returned its indigenous vestigial remnant Jewish population (i.e., the small minority of those 120,000 post-World War II Iranian Jews who have not fled!) to a state of obsequious dhimmitude, this toxic amalgam of belligerent, if “sacralized” Islamic ideologies animates Iran’s obsession to destroy the autonomous Jewish State of Israel, the initial goal of its larger hegemonic aspirations. Moreover, the Islamic Republic’s “pious” adherence to a jihad martyrdom mentality renders deterrence of its expressed nuclear annihilationist designs on Israel, a dubious proposition. Regardless, Iran’s jihadist proxies, in particular, Lebanese Hezbollah, with its demonstrated jihad martyrdom pedigree, and now possessing an estimated 100,000 rockets, could operate with impunity under an Iranian nuclear umbrella.
Deciding to cancel a planned visit to her Iranian homeland, Jewish refugee Farideh Goldin, born (1953) and raised in the Shiraz, Iran Jewish ghetto, made these plaintive observations, in a 2006 essay:
Visiting Iran for the last time in the summer of 1976, I vowed never to return. But during the past few years, the temptation slowly crept into me, like a long-abandoned addiction…My husband has never visited the country of my birth. We had planned to spend a year in Iran after he finished his medical internship…[A] medical conference in Mashad [Iran] seemed to be my best chance to introduce my husband to my first homeland. I made the decision to go with much trepidation, however. I am a woman; I am Jewish; I am a writer; each category subjected me to discrimination and suspicion…That was October 21, 2005. Barely a week later, Iran was in the headlines. Its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for the destruction of the state of Israel: every man, woman and child; artist, farmer scientist, grocer; the young girl whose parents walked from Yemen; my friend who was carried out of Syria in her father’s arms, screaming from hunger; the young man from Ethiopia who left everything behind; …—and yes, my mother, father and sister too. What are they to this fanatic leader but a small price to pay on the road to heavenly redemption? …How could I go back to Iran? I mourn for my parents’ loss of dignity, for all the Iranian Jewish refugees still numb with the political earthquake that tumbled their lives. The hands of evil are strong and long, seeking them still—not with daggers and clubs, as when my parents and grandparents lived in the dark ghettos of Iran, when Jew-haters, encouraged by fanatical mullahs, rampaged through their meager belongings—but now with missiles and atomic bombs.
All the potentially catastrophic dynamics Goldin characterized with such eloquence—and despair—persist, and now, after the delusive and destabilizing “P5 + 1” negotiations process approaches finality, have advanced to a truly imminent stage.
The question arises as to why more than 12-years after the August 14, 2002 revelations about Iran’s Natanz and Arak nuclear installations—6-years under the Bush II Administration, and another 6-years (and counting) during the Obama Administration—sound, practical U.S. geostrategic arguments, and actions, such as those advocated by Professor Matthew Kroenig, have been dismissed. My book Iran’s Final Solution For Israel examines at some length, the origins of this tragic, yet entirely avoidable failure of imagination, and will, rooted in intellectual sloth, and cowardice.
The case for limited, targeted military strikes on Iran’s four known nuclear facilities has been made with cogent clarity by Professor Kroenig, Georgetown University International Relations Professor, and expert on Iran’s nuclear program. Kroenig’s dispassionate May, 2014, study, A Time to Attack, elucidates the profoundly destabilizing threat posed by an Iran armed with nuclear weapons:
From Iran, a revisionist and risk-acceptant state, we can expect…reckless behavior. Iran will almost certainly be willing to risk nuclear war in future geopolitical conflicts, and this will mean that it will be able on occasion to engage in successful nuclear coercion. It also means that, in playing these games of brinkmanship, it will increase the risk of a nuclear exchange.
Kroenig then outlines the tactical obstacles military strikes on Iran’s four established nuclear facilities would confront, from the relative ease of attacking the surface Isfahan and Arak sites, to the difficulty of targeting the underground Natanz and Qom complexes.
…Isfahan and Arak are above ground and therefore are easy military targets. We [the U.S.] could easily destroy these facilities using air- or sea-launched cruise missiles, launched from U.S. B-52 bombers operating outside Iranian airspace or U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf.
Natanz is buried under seventy feet of earth and several meters of reinforced concrete, and Qom is built into the aide of a mountain and is therefore protected by 295 feet of rock. To destroy these sites we would need to use the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP. The MOP weighs 30,000 pounds and according to open source reporting, is capable of penetrating up to 200 feet before exploding. Some simple arithmetic (200 feet is greater than 70+ feet) suggests that Natanz doesn’t stand a chance. It is unlikely that the MOP could penetrate into the enrichment chamber of Qom in a single shot (295 feet is greater than 200 feet), but we could simply put subsequent bombs in the crater left from a previous bomb and thus eventually tunnel our way in. Putting multiple bombs in the same hole requires a fair bit of accuracy in our targeting, but we can do it. In addition to destroying their entrances, exits, ventilation heating and cooling systems, and their power lines and sources. The MOP can only be carried on the U.S. B-2 stealth bomber. Since it can be refueled in midair, the B-2 can be sent on a roundtrip mission from U.S. bases in Missouri and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to its targets in Iran and back home again without stopping. The B-2 could also be escorted by stealthy U.S. F-22 fighters, or F-16s, to protect it against fighter aircraft.
This relatively limited, and very brief campaign consisting of “a barrage of cruise missiles and bombing sorties,” Kroenig observes, plausibly conducted in one night, would almost certainly succeed in its intended mission and destroy Iran’s key nuclear facilities.
Citing four historical precedents where pre-emptive bombing of nuclear facilities achieved the goal of non-proliferation, decisively—“Nazi Germany during World War II, Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq several times in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, and Syria in 2007”—Kroenig concludes by enumerating the multiple benefits which would accrue from similarly destroying Iran’s known nuclear installations:
There is absolutely no doubt that a strike on Iran’s nuclear facility would significantly set back Iran’s nuclear progress and create a real possibility that Iran would remain non-nuclear for the foreseeable future. Moreover…[a] strike…would stem the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and bolster the nonproliferation regime around the world. Furthermore, a U.S. strike would also strengthen American credibility. We declared many times that we were prepared to use force if necessary to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons. A strike would demonstrate that we mean what we say and say what we mean and that other countries, friends and foes alike, would be foolish to ignore America’s foreign policy pronouncements.
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Deputy Commander Brigadier-General Hossein Salami made the following comments at a conference held in Tehran, which aired on Al-Alam TV on March 11, 2014:
Despite the geographical distance, we are attached to the hearts of the Palestinians. How is it that our slogans and goals are identical to the slogans and causes of the Palestinians? Why do we strive to become martyrs and risk our lives for the Palestinian cause? The answer is that the religion of Islam has designated this for us – this goal, this motivation, this belief, this energy – so that we, here, can muster all our energies in order to annihilate the Zionist entity, more than 1,400 kilometers away. We are ready for that moment in the future.
The “Trusting Khomeini-Khamenei-Rohani” brain trust shaping current Obama Administration Iran policy maintains the good general Salami doesn’t mean any of this, and it is somehow mere “cultural bluster.” Conservative “Trusting Montazeri/Green Movement,” self-styled “Iran shenasans” (“Iran experts”) would argue the good general is simply “distorting” Shiite Islam and we must be patient, support the (Soylent) Green Movement of Iranian Jeffersonian Democrats, and at some unstated future time point, “regime replacement” will solve the Iranian nuclear weapons, and all other such problems engendered by the “distortion of Shiite Islam.” Accordingly, we must ignore the hard data that show 83% support for the Sharia in Iran, or the 63% of Iranians who insisted that Iran should continue to develop its nuclear program, even at the height of the period of strictest international economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Till now, those are your Iran policy options from the ones who control such discourse—and current or planned actions—across the political and ideological spectrum. As a potential alternative to this dangerously misguided policy morass, I queried Professor Kroenig (in early November, 2014) about the possibility of urgent Israeli airstrikes. Kroenig’s A Time to Attack argues persuasively about the limitations of such an Israeli campaign, Israel lacking any known capability, for example, to penetrate the deeply embedded fortifications of Iran’s Qom/Fordow uranium enrichment facility. However, given what is truly needed two-years from now, hope against hope—a complete U.S. political and policymaking class “regime change”—I offer Professor Kroenig’s temporizing solution until the U.S. regains its geostrategic and moral bearings:
As a last resort, an Israeli strike– and the year or two of breathing space, at minimum, it would buy– would be preferable to acquiescing to a nuclear Iran.
Finally, the American public, regardless of the attitudes of current political leadership and policymaking elites, appears fully cognizant of Iran’s intentions, and the unacceptable security threat posed by an Islamic Republic armed with nuclear weapons. Polling data from a U.S. national sample of 1800 Americans completed Sunday, November 23, 2014, indicated the following:
- 85% of Americans do not believe the Iranians’ assertions that their nuclear program is peaceful
- 81% of Americans do not believe the current government in Iran can be trusted to keep agreements
- 69% of Americans oppose any negotiated agreement leaving Iran with nuclear capabilities
Hope springs eternal such gimlet-eyed Americans will elect equally astute political leaders also endowed with the courage necessary to authorize targeted military strikes which complete a task Israel will have initiated by 2015: destroying, or severely damaging the Islamic Republic of Iran’s current nuclear development facilities, forestalling, and perhaps even preventing long term, a nuclear weapons-armed Iran.
Illustrative materials, particularly key background doctrinal and historical quotes were reproduced from the author’s Iran’s Final Solution For Israel, re-published with an updated preface November 26, 2014.