Yesterday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad loudly slammed shut the door that President Obama insists is still wide open.
In a rant at the United Nations, Amadinejad sounded just like newly convicted Pakistani-American Al-Qaeda terrorist, Aafiya Siddiqui, who was just sentenced to 86 years. Both the President and the Lady scientist-turned-terrorist believe that America and Israeli Zionists plotted 9/11 and that both capitalism and Jews must die.
Siddiqui’s lawyer claims that her client is “mentally ill”; she may be right. Perhaps Amadinejad is also “mentally ill”—were Hitler or Stalin really in good mental health?—but it doesn’t matter since Amadinejad’s finger is on the nuclear trigger and his money is on Hezbollah, his own private global, terrorist army in Lebanon, Iraq, Argentina, Venezuela and elsewhere.
Here’s what worries me. Obama’s silence equals American complicity. “Not in my name, Mr. President.”
Iranians have marched and died in Teheran protesting the regime of their mad mullahs. Remember Neda Sultan? Remember the creative ways in which Iranians used technology to circumvent the government blackout of their computers? Iranian dissidents (Shiva Nazar-Ahari, Emadeddin Baghi) are being sentenced to long jail terms; long-term Iranian diplomats (Mohammed Reza Heydari, Hossein Alizadeh, Farzad Farhangian) are defecting from European Embassy posts.
Iranian women have been exceptionally brave and, in my view, have put most Western feminists to shame. They march even when they expect to be imprisoned, tortured, or murdered. A group of Iranian feminists once asked me whether I thought they should take to the streets on International Woman’s Day given that the government had threatened to shoot them down like dogs. I suggested that their lives might be even more precious than their principles, that surely they could work secretly to bring down their government.
They chose to march. Afterwards, they excitedly told me that “only 113 were arrested” and that they had “already located where 110 are being held.”
Yesterday, Iranian protestors were out in full force to demonstrate against Ahmadinejad at the United Nations. Soona Samsani is a supporter of exiled leader Maryam Rajavi and is someone with whom I have worked.
Samsani has just published a piece titled “Iranian Women Stand Against Misogynist Ahmadinejad.” She insists that international pressure works when it comes to human rights violations and points to the example of the delayed stoning of Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani. Samsani writes:
“During Ahmadinejad's five-year tenure as the regime's president, 1,860 people have been executed, among them 42 women, with 261 cases reportedly carried out in public. Additionally, seven have been stoned to death, among them women. Iran is also the only child executioner in the world, hanging 36 juveniles in the same period. So, it is high time for the forceful rejection of the false notion that opposition to such crimes is tantamount to warmongering. The only benefactor of this notion is the Iranian regime. What has instead become clear time and again is that when the international community actually applies pressure on the Iranian regime when it comes to human rights abuses, the regime succumbs.”
Today, the New York Times showed contempt for the Iranian protestors in New York. A photo on the front page shows an empty street, with one lone, perhaps dejected man, seated next to a giant face of Ahmadinejad which is lying on the floor. They banish their coverage to page A21, where they show a sea of other protests which their reporter presents as something of an annual autumnal version of Spring Break. The piece is titled “The Weather Was Perfect for Outrage.” “Outrage has become a habit, if not an occupation,” it says.
Shame! There are Iranians who are being tortured in jails who are waiting for news about their outside supporters. Is this the best the privileged, liberal West can do?
I remember participating in a panel together with Ramesh Sepharrad of the National Committee of Women for a Democratic Iran which took place at the United Nations. About eight Iranian women officials in serious hijab sat down in a menacing bloc. Samsani, also in hijab, started taking their photos. Sepharrad took the mike and said: “We know who you are. Tell the mullahs back in Teheran what you heard here. Tell them that women will overthrow their corrupt regime and bring them down.”
The bloc left hastily. I was astonished by the Iranian women’s cool bravery.
Iranian dissidents, like Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents everywhere, deserve American support. Obama’s approach of “engaging” with or appeasing Islamist tyrants is not enough, nor is his choosing Islamists as his consultants for the FBI, CIA, and Armed Forces.
Choose Iranian dissidents instead. They will not tell him what he wants to hear. Imperial Presidents need that kind of advice.
Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D. is professor emerita of psychology and the author of thirteen books including "Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman" and "The New Anti-Semitism." She has written extensively about Islamic gender apartheid and about honor killings. She once lived in Kabul, Afghanistan. She may be reached through her website: www.phyllis-chesler.com.
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Dr. Phyllis Chesler is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies. She is the author of 4 studies about honor killings and 16 books.