Look in the mirror
Can't ignore murderous behavior
By Bahram Rajaee
May 11, 2001
I'd like to comment on some of the larger issues raised by John Mohammadi's
of Khobar". We are all, no doubt, quite sensitive to the accusations
that the Islamic Republic is perhaps the foremost state sponsor of terrorism
in the world today.
We are all, most likely, also intimately familiar with the inevitable
debates which immediately follow (in our own minds, and in any forum in
which these accusations are leveled): "What do you mean by terrorism?
Iran has never invaded anyone... as a matter of fact, it has been repeatedly
attacked since the revolution! Didn't the experience with Saddam teach you
anything? Iran, of course, does help Hezbollah in Lebanon--but they aren't
terrorists, they are freedom fighters that only wanted to eject Israel from
their country! And what about U.S. support for Israel? Isn't that state
And on, and on, and on.....
The point here, really, is that it almost doesn't matter how eloquent,
factually accurate, historically correct, and persuasive our efforts --
as Iranian-Americans -- to try and balance the coverage of these reports
are. The fundamental, overriding factor here is that at this point in time,
despite all that is happening in Iran, the consequences of 1979 are still
dominating official U.S. rhetoric and policy, as well as the bulk of any
form of intellectual discourse regarding U.S.-Iranian relations.
Moreover, in the intervening 20 years, powerful political interests (and
they are NOT all Jewish) in Washington have established their influence,
to a certain extent, on hardline anti-IRI position. Over time, these positions
have assumed the role approaching that of a theology: it is, in these circles,
an article of faith that the IRI is inherently aggressive, destabilizing,
unremittingly hostile, and wholly incapable of being rehabilitated into
the "community of nations."
All that needs to be done, then, is simply to look for evidence of questionable
behavior on Iran's part. Iran is therefore considered guilty until proven
so. That's how we ended up with this ludicrous notion of "rogue states."
By contrast, trying to inject some sense of balance into the discourse regarding
U.S.-Iranian relations is a difficult and often easily misunderstood task.
That is why I fully appreciate John Mohammadi's piece on Khobar.
Anyone with the ability and willingness to approach this issue would
agree with him. The problem is, the people that need to absorb and hear
objective analyses like that are not willing or able to do so.
I'm not suggesting by any means that we as a community should stop doing
everything we can to explode the myth of "Iranian-as-terrorist."
Quite to the contrary, we need to do more and do it better. It's just that
it struck me as I was reading John's wonderful piece -- why do we alway
feel the need to point out Israel's deficiencies in order to arrive at the
"Of course," John wrote, "this is not to say that Iran
doesn't bomb places - Iran is certainly no better or worse than any other
country in this respect - but isn't interesting to see how 'secret evidence'
and rumors become accepted in this here democracy as a substitute for truth,
until everyone just 'knows' Iran is responsible, without anyone knowing
exactly how or why or when or who ...."
Of course, Israel's short history is replete with examples of hypocrisy,
excesses in the name of state preservation, and discrimination bordering
on communal terrorism. There is no question about that. But Iran is not
Israel. And recycling what can easily be tagged as a carryover from the
1960s pan-Arab, "rejectionist" rhetoric -- no matter how accurate
-- will most likely not make much headway in the U.S.
We aren't Jews and we aren't Arabs, and no matter what anyone tells me,
we don't have a dog in that fight. In addition, attempting to deny what
some of the most extreme and fanatical members of Iran's clerical government
may or may not have done by asserting that "Israel has done it too"
is to set yourself up for a probable disappointment. Before Khatami's election,
these elements of the regime, led by Rafsanjani, Fallahian, and their close
colleauges from the Haqqani school, dominated Iran's international policies.
I have always thought that the U.S. needs to provide the evidence to
us regarding alleged Iranian complicity in the long list of terrorist attacks;
I would also be the first to condemn the Iranian leadership if such evidence
has been provided, which it has not been to date. But make no mistake about
it, the U.S. government can see most of what Iran is up to.
Then think about this: Now that we know the murderous behavior of this
small group of powerful people in Iran over the last 15-20 years, thanks
to the brave journalists there, are you willing to defend what their actions
might have been in 1995/1996? I, for one, can not and will not. I just hope
and pray that they were not stupid enough to have had anything to do with