Iran protests: is the regime in danger?

(Apologies for the lack of posting this past week. I was somewhat preoccupied with the shiva.)


When I came back online I discovered that Iran has been undergoing massive popular protests that might possibly even threaten the regime. It seems almost impossible to contemplate. The Khomeinist regime has been solidly entrenched for nearly 40 years and it looked like nothing would budge it, whether because the population supported its extreme Islamist structure, or simply because the regime had no qualms about suppressing any protests by the most violent means.

The following tweet has become the iconic image of the Iranian protests – an Iranian woman waving her hated hijab in protest at the repression of the Islamist regime:

This past week has shown that what was is not necessarily what is, or what will be in the future.

Tablet Magazine explains why the Ayatollah empire is rotting away:

Whether or not this past weekend’s mass demonstrations in Iran will spread, whether a second revolution is imminent or not, the numbers for the ayatollah empire just don’t add up. A breakdown is materially inevitable.

With some 80 million people, and with oil accounting for 80 percent of its exports, Iran would need to export some 25 million barrels a day to make a go of it, but it can barely export 2.5 million. That would be luxuriously ample for the likes of Abu Dhabi with fewer than 800,000 citizens, but it is a miserable pittance for Iran, with a population more than 100 times as large.

Iran cannot even match the $6,000 income per capita of Botswana. […]  Neither is Botswana mounting large-scale military expeditions in support of a foreign dictator at war with 80 percent of his own population or providing generous funding for the world’s largest terrorist organization, Hezbollah, whose cocaine-smuggling networks and local extortion rackets cannot possibly cover tens of thousands of salaries. The ayatollah empire is doing all those things, which means that average Iranians are actually much poorer than their Botswanian counterparts.

You would never know it looking at photographs of Tehran, one more bombastic capital city fattened on intercepted oil revenues and graft, but Iran is dirt poor.

That is what happens in an economy whose gross domestic product computes at under $6,000 per capita: very low productivity, very low incomes. The 500,000 or so Iranians employed in the country’s automobile industry are hardly productive enough to make exportable cars: Pistachio nuts are the country’s leading export, after oil and petroleum products.

The pistachios bring us directly to Iran’s second problem after not-enough-oil, namely too much thieving by ayatollahs, including pistachio-orchard-grabbing Akbar Hashemi “Rafsanjani,” former president and a top regime figure for decades.

That is why the crowds have been shouting insults at the clerics—not all are corrupt, but high-living clerics are common enough to take a big bite out of that theoretical $6,000 per capita.

But the largest cause of popular anger is undoubtedly the pasdaran, a.k.a the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), an altogether more costly lot than the several hundred aghazadeh or tens of thousands of high-living clerics. The IRGC’s tab starts with the trillion dollars or more that the pasdaran-provoked nuclear sanctions cost before the Obama team agreed to lift them and continues with the billions that Iran still loses annually because of the ballistic-missile sanctions that Trump will never lift. Then there are the variable costs of the pasdaran’s imperial adventures, as well as the fixed cost of pasdaran military industries that spend plenty on common weapons as well as on “stealth” fighters and supposedly advanced submarines that exist only in the fantasies of regime propagandists. Pasdaran militarism and imperial adventures are unaffordable luxuries that the demonstrators very clearly want to do without—hence their shouts of “no-Gaza, no-Syria.”

As to what the West can do to accelerate the regime’s collapse?

Many European and Japanese big-name companies are staying away from Iran because the missile and terrorism sanctions persist—and to avoid displeasing the United States. They should. But the South Koreans whom we defend with our own troops totally ignore U.S. interests in regard to Iran and have therefore emerged as the lead suppliers of machinery and tooling for the pasdaran weapon factories. …

There is no need to laboriously negotiate a new set of sanctions against Iran—strict, swift, and public enforcement of the restrictions that are already on the books is enough. Every time a South Korean regime-related deal is detected, the offenders need a quick reminder they will be excluded from the United States if they persist. In this, as in everything else, it is just a matter of getting serious in our focus on Iran.

Obama was serious in his courtship of the ayatollahs’ regime. Trump should do the same to bring the regime to an end, faster.

Abu Yehuda speculates on the day after, if such a day ever comes, in his post “The Iranian counter-revolution: a good start”:

Apparently, many Iranians are tired of the corrupt regime and don’t see the point of its adventures in Syria and elsewhere. I would like to believe also that they see the regime heading for a direct collision with Israel and other regional powers, and they would prefer to avoid an unnecessary and bloody war.

Although the immediate irritants are economic, the demonstrations are strongly political and aimed at the regime. Posters of Supreme Leader Khamenei, General Qassam Solemani of the IRGC’s “Quds Force” (a sort of foreign legion), and President Rouhani have been destroyed. Chants of “death to the IRGC” and “death to the dictator” have been reported.

Is it possible that the revolutionary Islamic regime established in 1979 could be overthrown?

At this point we don’t know if the demonstrations are the beginning of a planned putsch with an organization behind them, or just a spontaneous explosion of frustration. If the latter, the regime will probably succeed in shutting them down by the escalating use of force. But if the former is the case, then regime change is a possibility.

This raises so many questions! Could Iran get a non-Islamist regime? Could it get one that is not committed to imperial conquest? Could it even dream of a democratic government?

Iran is a relatively advanced country with a well-educated population. It was at one time one of the most Westernized countries in the Middle East. The 1979 revolution imposed an atavistic, medieval regime on a people that has chafed under its rule ever since. There is certainly popular support for a counter-revolution.

The consequences in the region if the Iranian regime were replaced by one which prioritized economic development over foreign adventures would be immense. If the demonstrators got their wish and the millions sent to Hezbollah and the Iraqi Shiite militias stayed in Iran, the air would go out of Bashar al-Assad’s plan to re-conquer Syria. The best he could hope for with plenty of Russian air support would be to survive in a small enclave. The Sunni resistance to his regime would be reenergized.

Needless to say, Israel would be overjoyed. Hezbollah is Israel’s most dangerous immediate enemy, with its 150,000 rockets aimed at us. Without Iranian support, the process of disarmament, which was called for by UNSC Resolution 1701 at the end of the Second Lebanon War, but never implemented, could finally begin. Lebanon could begin to think about becoming an independent sovereign nation again, instead of a country-sized human shield for Hezbollah rocket launchers.

Abu Yehuda tries not to get our hopes up too far with dreams of a rosy peace, and yet:

If Iran stopped exporting revolutionary Islamism, it wouldn’t create a new, more peaceful world all at once.

But what a good start it would be!

Here are some interesting tweets on the Iranian protests which shed more light on current events:

Other tweeters commented on the political classes’ and intelligentsia’s obtuseness in commenting on the Iran protests:

Many commentators remarked on the lack of coverage of the protests by the Western media:

All in all it is the standard “non-Westerners can do no wrong” attitude both of politicians and the media.  Unless they shake off this attitude they will never understand what is happening in other parts of the world, and all the Iranian civilians’ sacrifices will have been in vain

Posted in Iran, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Updated: Mordechai Kedar destroys Arab claims to Jerusalem on Al-Jazeera – full video with subtitles

When posted the video of Mordechai Kedar speaking on Al-Jazeera TV, I only had a subtitled version of a 2 minute segment. I noted that I didn’t have the full video with English subtitles and that I would update if I found it.

Reader Gideon Kantorovich very kindly sent me the video of the full interview (10 minutes) complete with English subtitles, which I hereby post below.

Enjoy Mordechai Kedar’s wit and his deep knowledge of Islam and Arab culture:

 

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, Incitement, indigenous rights, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Mideast news | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Baruch Dayan Emet: My father-in-law has passed away

My father-in-law at his 80th birthday party, over 10 years ago

ברוך דיין אמת

With great sorrow we announce the passing of my father-in-law, Menny Klausner z”l, at the grand old age of 91.  He is survived by his wife Edith, his son (my husband), daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The funeral will take place tomorrow, Monday 25th December 2017, at 12 noon at Segula cemetery in Petach Tikva.

For Shiva details, please email me via this blog, or PM/DM me via Facebook or Twitter and I will give you the address.

I will probably not be online very much if at all this week as I will be helping out at the shiva.

May we hear only good news from now on.

Posted in Family | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Wishing Merry Christmas to my Christian friends

I would like to wish all my Christian readers and friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May 2018 be a year of peace, happiness and prosperity for all of us.

Christmas is celebrated somewhat differently in Israel to the Western world:

The Jerusalem Post has a lovely photo essay of Christmas celebrations across the Middle East.

Israel provides its Christian community with trees for their Christmas decorations:

And here are some Christmas messages from Israel:

 

Watch this lovely video below:

Here is some good news for all of us:

And here is the Christmas message from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu:

I echo the PM’s prayers and blessings and say Amen! I hope that you have a peaceful, joyful festive season and I wish Merry Christmas to all those celebrating!

Posted in Slice of Israeli life | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Palestinian grinch that stole Christmas once again

The Palestinian Authority has a nasty habit of taking out its rage against Israel on its Christian citizens. They have done it before and this year the Palestinian grinch is stealing Christmas once again, as Lahav Harkov explains:

It came as no surprise that the Palestinian leadership responded angrily to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the obvious reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

But beyond the usual “day of rage,” rockets shot at Israeli preschools and firebombs thrown at passing Israeli civilians’ cars, the Palestinian Authority decided to make like the Grinch and steal Christmas, only proving that Trump was right not to fold to the whims of the side that has a pattern of violating religious freedoms, when it comes to a city holy to three religions.

Bethlehem, thought to be Jesus’ birthplace, and Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital, turned off their Christmas lights within an hour of Trump’s announcement.

Business is slow in Bethlehem

In Nazareth, the town where Jesus is thought to have grown up, now the largest Arab city in Israel, the Muslim mayor scaled back Christmas celebrations in identification with the Palestinians.

And ahead of US Vice President Mike Pence’s planned visit to Jerusalem this week, now postponed, Adeeb Joudeh, the Muslim man whose family has held the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for generations, announced that he wouldn’t let Pence, a devout Evangelical Christian, enter.

This tactic of protesting by denying Christians their Christmas celebrations reaffirms that Trump did the right thing in declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital, and for his administration to say last Friday that it envisions the Western Wall within Israeli Jerusalem in a final-status deal.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claims that he is a defender of Christian Arabs in areas under his control. He repeatedly said that Jerusalem is a Muslim and Christian – but not Jewish – holy city in his speech to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation last week.

But the Palestinians’ track record, even before putting a damper on Christmas this year, should leave Christians skeptical.

In 1950, the Christian population of the Bethlehem area was 86%, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Today, it’s only 12%, and Christians are only 2% of the Palestinian population, even though they were more than twice that a generation ago. The situation in Gaza, controlled by the terrorist group Hamas, is even worse. When Hamas took control in 2006, there were 6,000 Christians, and as of a year ago, there were 1,100. In Israel, the Christian population has stayed mostly stable at around 2%, growing by about 5,000 in the past 20 years.

Christians have been fleeing Palestinian-controlled territories, and it’s easy to understand why, in light of their systemic abuse. In 2002, terrorists affiliated with Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat raided and trashed the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, holding monks hostage in the church, leading to a standoff with the Israeli Army. One of the Palestinian leaders of the raid later said they chose the church as a combat base intentionally in order to put make Israel look bad.

In Gaza, Palestinian Christians have been murdered for their faith, including Rami Ayad, a leader of the Gaza Baptist Church and the manager of the area’s only Christian bookstore. The church has been commandeered by Hamas for combat, because it’s one of the tallest buildings in Gaza City.

After all that, the Palestinian leadership still claims that they are the best choice to control Christian holy sites.

Since Israel liberated the Old City in 1967, people of all religions are free to visit and worship in Jerusalem’s holy sites. This follows the verse in Isaiah used in Jewish prayers that says God’s “House,” meaning the Temple, “will be called a House of prayer for all nations.”

In fact the only religious discrimination in Jerusalem is that faced by the Jews!

The exception is the Temple Mount, which, while under Israeli sovereignty, is administered by an Islamic Trust, as a condition of Israel and Jordan’s peace treaty. Non-Muslims are prohibited from praying on the Temple Mount, even though the site is holy for all three major monotheistic religions. The rule is strictly enforced, and people have been thrown out for violating it.

The solution is obvious – obvious to anyone except the UN and its warped institutions:

No matter what the city will eventually look like, all of the above is overwhelming evidence that Israel is the right choice to control the heart of Jerusalem – the Old City – because only Israel is willing to protect the religious freedom of Jews, Christians and Muslims who call it holy.

RJ Streets, blogging at Israellycool, provides a poignant look at Bethlehem under the diktats of Mahmoud Abbas and his decision to cancel Christmas in protest at Trump, comparing it to last year’s celebrations:

Business was reported slow last year. It must be even slower so far this year, with calls for protests before Christmas in Bethlehem, using Jerusalem as the latest excuse.

And listen to the voice of Jonathan Elkhoury, an Israeli Christian, who tells us the truth about the treatment of Christians in Israel and under the Palestinian Authority:

Last minute update: The Nazareth festivities have been reinstated due to public pressure:

Let’s just keep in mind the sequence of events:

The Muslim Palestinians are angry at the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, i.e. the Jewish capital. So in revenge, they cancel Christmas.

They don’t cancel Ramadan or Eid. They don’t cancel Chanukah. They cancel Christmas. Because Jews. Or because America. Or because they are bigoted supremacist supercessionists. Take your pick. Any one of the above, or all, are correct.

 

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, Israel news, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Shabbat Shalom

No time for a Good News Friday post this week. My father in law is still very seriously ill in hospital. Please pray for Menachem Ben Baila.

But I can’t leave this blog without something sweet for Shabbat, so here is a beautiful video I saw recently on Facebook (h/t Shelley).

 

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Posted in Judaism | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments