If Mahmoud were Menachem…

ahm_1494743fOk, so, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might have been born Jewish, as a report in the Telegraph claims.

The knee-jerk reaction to this is to snicker at the irony of the situation. After all, what could be funnier than the greatest single enemy of the Jewish people currently living having Jewish roots?

(Now that these allegations have surfaced, they’ll probably remain as vexing to Ahmadinejad and historians as the allegations of Adolf Hitler’s Jewish roots.)

Well, it isn’t funny at all. Anyone who laughs at Ahmadinejad’s alleged Jewishness implicitly accepts and condones the notion that being Jewish is a shame and a handicap, an embarrassment that deserves to be hidden away. It only reinforces the ugly stigma against Jews that goes unrepudiated in the Muslim world.

Rather than heckle Ahmadinejad with taunts about his ancestry, he should be confronted over the unbearable bigotry with which he — and the vast majority of the Muslim world — relates to those taunts.


Who’s collapsing now?

APTOPIX Iran Ahmadinejad InterviewIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been dancing a jig to the sounds of falling markets around the world, but now he’s finally facing the music at home.

Ahmadinejad, who has publicly rejoiced at the suffering of Western economies and proclaimed his country’s Islamic revolution the answer to such troubles, has for the first time admitted that Iran’s economy is in decline.

Actually, that’s putting it mildly. While Ahmadinejad was trying to present himself as a savior for the Iranian Republic, announcing in state-run media that he had accumulated a foreign exchange unprecedented in Iran’s history and cut the country’s dependence on oil revenues from about 62% of the national budget to a “mere” 52%, the reality for him is quite bleak. The state budget depends almost entirely on the sale of oil and natural gas, funding approximately 80% of government expenditures. When oil prices were approaching $150 per barrel, Ahmadinejad was riding high. But now that they are in the $40s again, Iran is on the brink of disaster.

For several months now, Ahmadinejad has come under increasing pressure – not so much for his bombastic statements regarding Israel, the Holocaust and Iran’s nuclear energy (i.e. weapons) program, but for the severe plunge that Iran’s economy has taken under him.

This has tremendous implications.

A conversation I had recently with a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood (and this idea has been repeated by others) was instructive. In Egypt, he said, the people saw how much the Saudis adhered to an extreme, all-encompassing form of Islam, and they saw how much Allah had blessed the Saudis with prosperity in the form of oil wealth. If only they would follow the Saudi example of piety, these Egyptians figured, they would surely reap earthly rewards as well. The opposite of this is also true — that the economic failure of radical regimes can be a powerful tool in undermining popular support for those regimes.

In my speeches, I have argued for significantly increased efforts to develop energy sources that can replace oil and natural gas, in order to deny Iran and other states like it the means with which they fight Israel and the West. Presently, market forces are doing what scientists have not.

In the absence of unforeseen circumstances, economic issues will remove Ahmadinejad from office in next year’s presidential election. That won’t solve the problems that he has created or exacerbated, of course… but it’d be a heck of a good start.

The rhetorical flourishes of an apocalyptic regime

What does visceral hatred sound like? In Farsi, it sounds something like this:


Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, implementer of clerical rule through the Islamic Revolution


“I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another’s hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours.” – passage in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook


Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani


“If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in its possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.”


Further: “Jews shall expect to be once again scattered and wandering around the globe the day when this appendix is extracted from the region and the Muslim world.” –Jerusalem Day sermon at Teheran University, December 14, 2001.


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, current Supreme Leader of Iran


“Iran’s stance has always been clear on this ugly phenomenon (Israel). We have repeatedly said that this cancerous tumor of a state should be removed from the region.” – December 2000


“It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” – February 2001


“The Islamic world, and the Muslim youth in all the Islamic countries know that there is no way to confront the barbaric Zionist wolves and the aggression of the ‘Great Satan’ [i.e. America] except through martyrdom.” – August 2, 2006


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad


“God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism… As the imam [Khomeini] said, Israel must be wiped off the map.” – October 26, 2005, speaking at a seminar entitled “World without Zionism”


“Today, the Iranian people is the owner of nuclear technology. Those who want to talk with our people should know what people they are talking to. If some believe they can keep talking to the Iranian people in the language of threats and aggressiveness, they should know that they are making a bitter mistake. If they have not realized this by now, they soon will, but then it will be too late.” – August 1, 2006