Truth to power

Truth to power

Even since Hassan Rouhani became president of Iran on August 3, he has tried, in the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to be a “sheep in wolf’s clothing.”

He has failed.

Not because of any personal missteps, mind you. Rouhani has been a model of the smiling, Western-inclined ruler, who tweets humorously on Twitter and wishes Jews a happy new year. But he has been undermined not only by the continued brutality of his regime but by the wolf-in-wolf’s clothing, his boss and the real power in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, whose hatred for Israel and Jews – not to mention the West – is so strong that his cup spilleth over.

Just last month, the man who oversees the world’s foremost terror regime said once again that Israel is destined for “annihilation.” Just to make sure we all got the message about his attitude toward Jews, he added that Zionists are rabid dogs.

Nice. Especially coming from a pious man of religion. You’d think that Khameini could have controlled his mouth, at least until Iran pulled its scam deal on the West to keep its centrifuges spinning while getting $10 billion in sanctions relief. But sometimes hatred is so strong is just vomits forth, sewage-like, without any restraint.

Then, of course, there was the public dialogue between philanthropist and casino-owner Sheldon Adelson, Pulitzer Prize winner Bret Stephens, and YU President Richard Joel, where Sheldon said that a nuclear demonstration in an empty Iranian desert, that he said would harm no one, should be employed to show the Iranians that America means business. Yet again Khameini, the gentle man of faith, could not quell his acid tongue and told a huge crowd that Adelson’s “head should be crushed.” I found it interesting that a terrorist mastermind with sleeper cells all over the world felt threatened by an elderly businessman armed with slot machines.

Which brings us to Elie Wiesel.

In October I asked Wiesel, my hero and friend of 25 years, if he would produce an ad telling the truth about Iran and warning the world against its retention of nuclear facilities. “You are the foremost moral voice in the world,” I told him. “You’re the only one with the authority to be taken seriously. Neither the President, nor the Senate, can afford to ignore your call.”

In the end the ad, sponsored by my organization and our board member and Birthright co-founder Michael Steinhardt, appeared on the day that our very own Senator Robert Menendez courageously introduced legislation to increase economic sanctions against Iran. Menendez was looking for co-sponsors and the voice of Elie Wiesel, in full page ads in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, gave many Democratic senators the moral cover they needed to go against Barack Obama. One of the heroes who signed the ad, and who once again demonstrated his unmitigated love for Israel and Jewry, is our junior senator, Cory Booker.

Wiesel’s ad was extremely moving:

“If there is one lesson I hope the world has learned from the past it is that regimes rooted in brutality must never be trusted… Should we who believe in human rights, trust a regime which stones women and hangs homosexuals? Should we who believe in freedom trust a regime which murdered its own citizens when the people protested a stolen election in the Green Revolution of Summer, 2009? Should we who believe in the United States trust a regime whose parliament last month erupted yet again in ‘Death to America’ chants?.. America adopted me … and gave me a home after my people were exterminated in the camps of Europe. And from the time of the founding fathers America has always stood up to tyrants. Our nation is morally compromised when it contemplates allowing a country calling for the destruction of the State of Israel to remain within reach of nuclear weapons.

“I appeal to President Obama and Congress to demand, as a condition of continued talks, the total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and the regime’s public and complete repudiation of all genocidal intent against Israel. And I appeal to the leaders of the United States Senate to go forward with their vote to strengthen sanctions against Iran until these conditions have been met.”

I once wrote that history has taught us to trust the threats of our enemies more than the promises of our friends. Our enemies are making serious threats. It is time for our friends to keep their promises.

How sad that President Obama’s reaction was to threaten his first ever veto of economic sanctions, just as the bill was introduced. But how courageous of 16 Democratic senators to speak truth to power.