President Obama’s overtures to Iran are troubling and dangerous, and I find it astonishing that the leader of the free world would reestablish communication with the world’s foremost sponsor of international terror at the presidential level without any preconditions.
First, there is Iran’s funding of Hamas and Hezbollah, murderous organizations with declared genocidal aspirations against Israel and Jews worldwide. How could the president of a nation that experienced the horrors of 9/11 pick up the phone to the leader of a country that pays for the maiming and murder of Jewish and Arab children? In Syria, Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy army, has become the private militia of Bashar Assad, helping slaughter the Syrian people. President Obama unfortunately has chosen not to punish Assad for the chemical gassing of children. But can he not at least demand that Iran cease funding and supplying Assad’s butchers in Syria before they can rejoin the community of nations? Is outreach to mass murderers consistent with American values?
In Israel, Hamas, which up until recently received an incessant river of funding from Iran, just a month ago tried to plant a bomb in the Mamilla mall – just a few minutes walk from the Kotel – that is packed with people at all times and where I often walk with my children.
Then there are the Iranian government’s oft-repeated genocidal intentions of wiping the State of Israel off the map. And lest someone say that that was all Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and not Hassan Rouhani, I remind you that the real leader of Iran is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who threatened as recently as this March to “destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa” and last August said that “the fake Zionist [regime] will disappear from the landscape of geography,” adding that the “cancerous tumor” – Israel – had to be removed. He also expressed the hope that the Arab spring would inspire an Islamic “awakening” that ultimately would fulfill Iran’s goal of annihilating Israel.
But even if Iran’s supreme leader did not continue his vows to exterminate Israel, we have not even heard Rouhani explicitly denounce the crazed threats of Jewish extermination that were the hallmark of his predecessor, Ahmadinejad.
Is it possible that an American president would open negotiations with a country that has not renounced its intention to produce a second Holocaust, and that continues to enrich uranium and plutonium that can be used to that effect?
As for Holocaust denial, when Christiane Amanpour asked Rouhani, “Does the right honorable gentleman from Tehran believe the Holocaust actually happened?” the accurate, as opposed to the misreported, Fars news agency translation of his response was this: “I have said before that I am not a historian and historians should specify, state and explain the aspects of historical events. But generally we fully condemn any kind of crime committed against humanity throughout the history, including the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and non-Jewsâ€¦ Therefore, what the Nazis did is condemned, (but) the aspects that you talk about, clarification of these aspects is a duty of the historians and researchers, I am not a history scholar.”
How much real progress from Ahmadinejad is there in this convoluted response? Crimes were committed, but not a holocaust, against both Jews and non-Jews, and even this still must be verified by historians.
All of which leads to the question of why President Obama embarrassed the United States by practically begging the president of Iran, a terror state, to publicly shake his hand at the UN?
This week my organization, This World: The Jewish Values Network, brought more than a thousand people to hear a public dialogue on genocide between the two biggest names in global genocide remembrance: Professor Elie Wiesel, the living embodiment of the martyred six million of the Holocaust, and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the only man alive who can claim to have stopped a genocide when his RPF forces conquered Rwanda in 1994 and ended the slaughter that had taken the lives of nearly one million Tutsis. The event, which I moderated, was introduced by philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and Michael Steinhardt.
In the discussion, I reminded Professor Wiesel that the full-page ads he took out in major American publications in March 2010, rebuking President Obama, with whom he is close, for his pressure on Israel to cease building in parts of Jerusalem, were widely credited with reversing the administration’s policy. What were his feelings now, I asked, in witnessing Obama’s phone call with Rouhani? Wiesel said that Iran’s holocaust denial was dangerous and delusional, and that opening diplomatic relations with the Iranians before they had formally renounced their genocidal aspirations against Israel was utterly unacceptable.
In light of this, I pressed on, would he consider taking out similar ads questioning the president’s decision to open diplomatic relations at the highest level of the Iranian leadership without first demanding that Iran cease funding Hezbollah terrorists, or enriching uranium? Yes, he would certainly consider doing so.
Not all of us have Professor Wiesel’s global stature. But with Iran still threatening a genocide of the Jews and building weapons to make it happen, each and every one of us – Democrat, Republican, and independent – must make our voices heard. We must tell the president that Iran’s leader’s words mean nothing. The only thing that matters is action. Demand that the president defund Hezbollah, stop arming Syria, renounce all threats against Israel, and immediately stop enriching uranium before the United States engages Iran in diplomacy.