ISRAEL IS NOT THE PROBLEM
By Micah Halpern
Tuesday July 11, 2006
"The basic problem in the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime, and the Islamic world and region must mobilize to remove this problem ... the biggest threat today for the region is the existence of the fake Zionist regime."
The fact that those statements are, if not blatantly false than at least open to dispute, is completely irrelevant given the mouth from which they came and the context in which they were spoken.
The speaker was President Ahmadinejad of Iran. The occasion was a regional conference, sponsored by Iran. The topic of the conference, just like the conference held in Istanbul, Turkey in April of last year and the conference held six months before that in the Iranian capital Teheran, is the security of Iran.
Ahmadinejad is a man who weighs his words carefully, everything he does is for a purpose. When he discounts the horrors of the Holocaust, he intends to motivate the Muslim masses against the West. When he speaks of Israel he knows that his words will galvanize Muslims against Israel. When Ahmadinejad speaks to the masses he aims to move people closer to his vision of the world.
When Ahmadinejad says that the Islamic world must remove the fake Zionist regime he is not just making a point, he is pointing a finger. He is pointing a finger at Israel is order to deflect the fingers that are being pointed at him and at Iran by the rest of the Islamic world, by the very people he is calling into action.
Iran has always angled to become a major player in the Muslim world and by extension, in the entire world. In this, Iran has failed miserable. Rather than being a major player, Iran is a thorn in the side of the other nations of Islam. In fact, although Iran lays the blame on Israel, Iran is the most significant factor of destabilization, to quote Ahmadinejad, in "the Islamic world and region." In sponsoring this conference and the previous conferences, Iran is attempting to deflect attention away from a real problem hampering the region and place it elsewhere.
The reality is that Iran failed with the first two conferences, they elicited no significant beneficial results and Iran will probably fail again a third time.
Iran, without realizing it, is being outplayed by the Law of Diminishing Returns. Clearly, Israel's very existence is not the biggest problem in the Middle East. Clearly, Israel does not destabilize the Middle East. And clearly, there is very little that any nation, let alone Israel, can do to change the image that Israel has in the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad, however, is working hard to change Iran's image.
Ahmadinejad is working hard to change Iran's image in the eyes of Islam, and could not care less about how the West perceives him or his country. Iran does not speak with the United States, Israel or any Western nation in mind. Ahmadinejad speaks exclusively to and for the Muslim world. He is intent on putting forth, front and center for the Muslim world, the Iranian agenda.
But the reality is that the Iranian agenda does not resonate with the rest of the Muslim world. The Muslim world has heard this song before, danced this dance too many times, seen this play too often, to care.
The reality is that Iran does not fit in with the rest of the Muslim world. Iran is a Shiite country and the very vast majority of the Muslim world is Sunni. The Muslim world sees Iran as heretics and Iran sees the Sunnis as blind to the honest religious truth. Ahmadinejad knows the truth about his country, he just refuses to accept it as truth. So he points fingers and makes outlandish proposals and grand demands.
There is only one hope the Iranians hold for becoming the epicenter of Islam. The Iranians hope that if they successfully galvanize all other countries against Israel they will be heralded as the leader. Unifying the Muslim world through the mantra of Israel's oppression of the Palestinian has been a common ploy for decades. Until recently, until now.
The Middle East and the Islamic world are different than they were even two decades ago.
Not that every Muslim or Arab country is waiting to become an ally of Israel, but many have strategic concerns and economic issues, and many Islamic countries are exploring and expanding back door interactions with Israel. Many Muslim states - not just major player states - have informal relations and more and more are moving toward formalizing relationships with "the fake Zionist regime" Israel.
Iran has not yet accepted a truth that is becoming more and more commonly-held by other Muslim nations. Israel is really not the problem.
Israel is not the big problem for the region and Israel is not even the problem for the Palestinians. Yasser Arafat was a significant problem. The corruption, nepotism and cronyism that Arafat fostered was a serious problem. The fact that monies collected for and donated to the Palestinian people by nations around the world have never even trickled down to the people who need it is a problem.
Iran and Iran's nuclear aspirations are a problem. Iran is a problem that has the potential to thrust the region into turmoil. Muslim states in the region see Iran as a problem they want little to do with.
Hamas is a problem. And Hamas views Israel much the same way Iran views Israel.
Ahmadinejad is very good in front of a camera. Ahmadinejad makes for good soundbites and great quotes. Ahmadinejad is - the problem.