City of Brass

City of Brass

Would an Ahmadinejad victory be good for Israel?

There are always those who prefer to see world events through the narrow lens of their own political interest rather than universal principles of freedom and justice. Case in point: the extremists running Israel, whose entire narrative about Iran is predicated on it being a “mad mullah” state intent on Israel’s destruction, rather than a nation at the cusp of democratic change. The Iranian regime is running scared by the expression of popular anger at the election’s theft by Ahmadinejad, but they are joined by the Likud and their political allies among the neo-conservative American punditry.

For example, an op-ed in Haaretz argues that an Ahmadinejad victory would be better for Israel’s security:


When it comes to Iran, there is no escaping the old cliche about the elephant and the Jewish problem. And in this case, paradoxically, it seems that from Israel’s point of view the victory of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is actually preferable. Not only because “better the devil you know,” but because the victory of the pro-reform candidate will paste an attractive mask on the face of Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Marty Peretz at TNR says that the election had a “sense of authenticity”:

My impression is that the incumbent’s margin of victory was too big to have been fraudulent and the loser’s numbers also too big. Tyrannies don’t play around with the numbers like this. A dictator usually wants 99% of the voters to have been for him. But in Iran we were seeing the remnants of a true civil society, the last expressions of which were during the time of the Shah. It would be a blessing if this were to be the beginnings of a renaissance.


Maybe the regime fiddled around a bit with the numbers at the polls and after the polling. Still, the outcome had a sense of authenticity. A vast majority in the country is poor, and there is where the backing for Ahmadinejad and his ayatollah patrons is deepest. Mir Hussein Moussavi’s support was most solid, among the economic and intellectual elites in northern Tehran and in other big cities and among students of which there are millions, many of them discontented and pro-western, at least in style-of-life and aspirations to openness to the world. Moussavi, however, is an old hack who drew closer to his backers once they seemed to have become a critical mass. And it was there, in these precincts, that the delusion of a coming victory was born.


(let’s note that there is a surplus of anecdotal evidence and robust statistical analysis that demonstrates without any doubt that the election was anything but authentic).

Meanwhile, Max Boot argues that there’s a “bright side” to Ahmadinejad’s theft:

On the principle of “the worse the better” for our enemies-and, make no mistake, Iran is our enemy-it is possible to take some small degree of satisfaction from the outcome of Iran’s elections.


… in an odd sort of way a win for Ahmadinejad is also a win for those of us who are seriously alarmed about Iranian capabilities and intentions. With crazy Mahmoud in office-and his patron, Ayatollah Khameini, looming in the background-it will be harder for Iranian apologists to deny the reality of this terrorist regime.

And of course Netanyahu himself has consistently painted a picture of Iran as an existential threat in his meeting with Obama to try and deflect pressure from the issue of Israel’s illegal occupation and colonial aspirations in the West Bank. Israeli diplomats were instructed to wage a “PR offensive” against Iran in advance of the elections to undermine the idea that Iranian democracy might result in a legitimate outcome. The very idea of Iran as another potential Iraq rather than an implacable Amalek completely obliterates his arguments and rationalizations for stonewalling the peace process.


These pro-Ahmadinejad assumptions and arguments are flawed in their own right, particularly since Israel is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East and the Iranian regime would be even less interested in a nuclear confrontation if a reformist won rather than Ahmadinejad, but let’s for a moment take them at face value. Do these arguments justify keeping the Iranian people in chains, and denying them their aspirations for a better life?

This is what Iranians want:

Basically, the Iranian people want the following: 1. Take steps towards democracy 2. Have good and free relations with entire world (incl US) 3. Seek peace, as we are people who want peace with neighboring countries 4. seek progress, for a better situation and position in the world 5. These are all aims which Mousavi, Rezaee, and Karroubi desire. We are told by Mousavi, Rezaee, and Karroubi that they are going to govern peacefully, strive for good relationships with other countries, and bring peace to the country. They support progress, and want good relations with other nations, even Israel and the US. They’d also like to stop giving economic support to palestinian terrorists.

Why should these aspirations take a backseat to a fringe colonial and messianic dream of Greater Israel? Must the Zionist dream be paid for in Iranian as well as Palestine blood?

  • Your Name

    Keep in mind that the author of that op-ed is one of Ha’aretz’ token right-wingers. Here’s a poll offering a somewhat different point of view: 80 percent of Jewish Israelis don’t regard a nuclear Iran as a threat.
    My experience is that most Israeli Jews have ambivalent opinions about Iran. They fear Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric, but don’t hate the country – many of them have family ties there! During the Khatami era, the articles about Iran in the Israeli media leaned heavily toward features and puff pieces: the focus was less on the (alleged) nuclear program than on how many Tehranis listened to Israel Radio. I suspect that if Ahmadinejad falls, Iran will rapidly cease to be a major political issue in Israel, which might be exactly what Bibi is afraid of. (Amazing how the neocons and some of the more breathless “anti-imperialists” so often find themselves making common cause, but I digress.)
    Anyway, do you find the Mousavi demonstrations as inspiring as I do? May the Iranian people take their country back.

  • Jonathan Edelstein

    Sorry, that last was from me.

  • Aziz

    yes, agreed absolutely. thats really my main point – and the same logic may well apply to Hamas’ leaders fears of Palestinian statehood.
    I hope I didnt imply that ordinary Israelis are culpable or sympathetic to these pro-Ahmadinejad sentiments. Thanks for that link to the poll – i need to update this post to emphasize this fact. my point is to highlight how in Israel the extremists have political control, to the mainstream’s detriment.
    Incidentally Jonathan

  • Jonathan Edelstein

    I don’t think anything in your post implied that ordinary Israelis are culpable. Incidentally, I think the same may be true in reverse: many Iranians fear Israel because of the saber-rattling and threats from the right, but relatively few hate Israel, and there’s always been a lot of covert interest in Israel among Iranians. I am morally certain that if the Israeli government dialed down the rhetoric, at least some of the Iranian public would reciprocate.
    BTW, Iranians and Israelis have at least one thing in common: both are convinced that the international community values their lives cheaply. There is considerable justice to the Iranian perception, given that the world allowed Saddam Hussein to bomb their cities and use poison gas on their civilians for eight years without saying boo. If I were Iranian, I would also be very concerned if someone threatened to bomb me, because such threats have become very real in the past. One more reason why the threats have to end.
    It looks like your last comment to me was incomplete – what were you about to say after “incidentally?”

  • OVG

    Racist Arabs & bigoted Muslim claim, only Arabs/Muslims have a “right” to “exist” in the M.E….. – Israel vs Genocide

  • carrie

    in isaiah it tells from before the lost house of israel to now and it
    warns of irans attack of israel and (Ashur)Iran to be scattered all over the hills of judea – messiah comes and gathers the lost house of israel—when you read it be sure to be careful not to mix israel with the jews the tribe of judah( people clump jews and israel together(lost house) thinking they are the same tribe they are not
    keep in mind iran will take over nations , like bablyon(bavel) which is iraq.
    if you really want to know about this stuff you should get the book of yasher sarf ha yasher (the book of Jasper told of is sammel 1)
    it is know as the book of the upright. tells about there fight when
    nimrod was king ,it tells genealogy of the world.
    nothing that is not already known.

  • carrie

    palestin is the word philistine (translation is Greeks) that would be the state of the Greeks ,but wait a minute we have a greek nation
    and they don’t look greek those people they are arab not Greek.
    thing are getting lost in translation.
    like the word sabbath(translates to shabat- english is saturday).
    as i read i see what idots are in iran and the world.
    more idot stuff paul tarsus-claim is he change his name to paul -no
    it is a translation of the name saul and he had no last name that was
    the city he came from -he was from the tribe of benjame–city is Tarsus, Turkey –he was a part of the lost house of israel.
    mary magdal- that is miryam from—magdal,Israel.

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