How the U.S. Can Help Iranians Win Their Freedom

Dec. 11 2019

Born to upper-middle-class Marxist parents in the Islamic Republic, Shay Khatiri learned at school that America was the Great Satan and at home that it was “just as much a dictatorship as Iran,” and that both regimes were equally repressive. But Israel was a country toward which he had no negative feelings:

I never minded Israel. What I didn’t like was the Palestinians’ receiving aid from Iran while Iranians were starving. I had never met a Jewish person, but the regime hated Jews, so I grew to love them out of spite for the regime.

As for America, Khatiri’s attitudes diverged from his parents’ after the September 11 attacks, when he heard George W. Bush speak of bringing greater freedom to the Middle East. If the U.S. wanted democracy in the Muslim world, and the ayatollahs opposed it, Khatiri knew he sided with Washington. He eventually emigrated to Hungary—where he befriended a number of Israelis—and then to America. After explaining his political evolution, he suggests what his adopted country might to encourage the anti-regime sentiments in his homeland:

Democratization must come from within, . . . but it can’t always happen without foreign help. After several attempts by the Iranian people, it is now clear that the regime is too powerful for the people [to overthrow on their own]. We can begin with supporting labor unions and dissidents who are trying to make change happen from the inside.

In their correspondence, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson called the United States an “empire of liberty.” . . . Thomas Paine [likewise] said that the cause of America is, in a great measure, the cause of all mankind. America possesses many powers, but its power as a cause is the cheapest to spend and yet the most valuable, and has the greatest impact. This is something many of my friends and fellow students [in the U.S.] find bewildering. If only they could visit Iran.

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Read more at American Interest

More about: Democracy, George W. Bush, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy

With Talk of Annexation, Benny Gantz Sends a Message to the U.S.

Jan. 24 2020

On Tuesday, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who is campaigning for a third time to oust Benjamin Netanyahu from the Israeli premiership, announced that if elected he will seek to annex the Jordan Valley. He added the important caveat that he wants to do so “in coordination with the international community”—a promise that, as many have pointed out, is nearly impossible to fulfill. While it is easy to speculate about the political calculations behind this pledge, Jonathan Tobin suggests that it is also intended as a message to American liberals:

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More about: Benny Gantz, Democrats, Israeli Election 2020, Jordan Valley, U.S. Politics