Why These Iranian Demonstrations Are Different from Those of 2009

The current wave of protests spreading across Iran are without precedent in the Islamic Republic’s 37-year history, explains Majid Rafizadeh. Unlike others, he writes, these are aimed at overthrowing the clerical regime:

In 2009, during the popular uprising known as the “Green Movement,” people were protesting against rigged elections and the presidency of the anti-Semitic politician Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Chants of “Where is my vote?” echoed through the streets, while the government ratcheted up its power to silence the protestors.

Now, people are demanding not just limited reforms but regime change. After almost four decades of living under a theocracy—with Islamist mullahs controlling them, rampant corruption, and the regime’s persistent dissemination of propaganda—the people have reached the boiling point.

The government has been doing all it can to [channel popular rage into chants of] “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” But now protesters, risking their lives, are chanting, “Death to Khamenei”—a serious crime according to the clergy, and punishable, according to the sharia law of the regime, with death. . . . [Other] chants being heard all over the nation are, “Forget about Palestine, forget about Gaza, think about us” [and] “Death to Hizballah.” . . . The outcry leaves no question about the needs of the people, and the real voice of Iran. . . .

The Trump administration in the United States is taking the right side by supporting the Iranian people; they are the principal victims of the Iranian regime and its Islamist agenda. . . . Let [America] not be on the side of history that would remain silent in the face of such crimes against humanity; let us not join the ranks of other dictators, terrorists, and criminals who turned a blind eye to the will of brave, innocent people.

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More about: Ali Khamenei, Donald Trump, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs

The Impossibility of Unilateral Withdrawal from the West Bank

Feb. 19 2019

Since throwing his hat into the ring for the Israeli premiership, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz has been reticent about his policy plans. Nonetheless, he has made clear his openness to unilateral disengagement from the West Bank along the lines of the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza, stating the necessity of finding “a way in which we’re not controlling other people.” Gershon Hacohen argues that any such plan would be ill-advised:

The political and strategic precepts underlying the Oslo “peace” process, which Gantz echoes, vanished long ago. The PLO has unequivocally revealed its true colors: its total lack of interest in peace, unyielding rejection of the idea of Jewish statehood, and incessant propensity for violence and terrorism. . . . Tehran is rapidly emerging as regional hegemon, with its tentacles spreading from Yemen and Iraq to the Mediterranean Sea and its dogged quest for nuclear weapons continuing apace under the international radar. Even the terror groups Hizballah and Hamas pose a far greater threat to Israel’s national security than they did a decade ago. Under these circumstances, Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank’s Area C, [the only part still under direct Israeli control], would constitute nothing short of an existential threat.

Nor does Israel need to find a way to stop “controlling other people,” as Gantz put it, for the simple reason that its control of the Palestinians ended some two decades ago. In May 1994 the IDF withdrew from all Palestinian population centers in the Gaza Strip. In January 1996 it vacated the West Bank’s populated areas (the Oslo Accords’ Areas A and B), comprising over 90 percent of the West Bank’s Palestinian residents, and handed control of that population to the Palestinian Authority (PA). . . .

This in turn means that the real dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as within Israel itself, no longer revolves around the end of “occupation” but around the future of eastern Jerusalem and Area C. And since Area C (which is home to only 100,000 Palestinians) includes all the Jewish West Bank localities, IDF bases, transportation arteries, vital topographic sites, and habitable empty spaces between the Jordan Valley and the Jerusalem metropolis, its continued retention by Israel is a vital national interest. Why? Because its surrender to a potentially hostile Palestinian state would make the defense of the Israeli hinterland virtually impossible—and because these highly strategic and sparsely populated lands are of immense economic, infrastructural, communal, ecological, and cultural importance, not to mention their historical significance as the bedrock of the Jewish ancestral homeland

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More about: Benny Gantz, Israel & Zionism, Two-State Solution, West Bank