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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Courage on the streets of Iran

No doubt because the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel weighs more heavily on me now that I'm a citizen than it did while observing from the safety of the U.S., I've been transfixed by the protests and upheaval taking place in Iran. While I'm under no illusion that, even if the protesters got everything they're asking for, the theocratic regime would magically become a pro-Israel, western leaning, democracy, I do think that, based on what I've read in blogs from Iran, and in pictures of the demonstrations, that the movement represents a move in a slightly more progressive direction. And, as someone who never ceases to be amazed at the illusions of grandeur of those in free Western countries who've convince themselves that they're being brave when they protest the actions of their government, those on the streets of Iran who are confronting their theocratic government are displaying true courage in the face of a regime whose human rights violations - as documented by all promenant human rights organizations - include large-scale arrests, incommunicado detention, torture and violence against those protesting the government. (In fact, in recent months, the Iranian authorities have been carrying out a widespread crackdown on civil society, targeting academics, women's rights activists, students, journalists and labor organizers. Hundreds of trade union activists were arrested as part of measures to prevent planned strikes. Lawyers, bloggers, and others who have spoken out against human rights violations have themselves been targeted for abuse.)

Moreover, these movement also represents, to a large degree, a repudiation (for whatever reason) of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President whose Holocaust denial, and genocide incitement again Israel, I watch with disgust (and, also, with sadness over the propensity of some in the West to excuse or justify his explicit anti-Semitism.)

No, it would be silly to assume that any significant percentage of the protesters in Iran share my anger over his hateful rhetoric towards Jews and Israel, but if the end result is an Ahmadinejad packing his bags for his proverbial "Crawford, TX", I'd be happy nonetheless. Baby steps, for the Iranians, are better than no steps at all.

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