In a recent post, I opened by citing the words of Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, who pointed out that Israel has been claiming for the last 22 years that Iran is mere months away from having a nuclear weapon. It turns out that this rhetoric has actually been going on for at least 29 years – since I was in kindergarten, Ronald Reagan was nearing the end of his first term in office, and seven years before the World Wide Web was introduced.
On November 27th, Mondoweiss re-posted a Twitter status from Richard Silverstein, the creator of the Tikun Olam blog, showing a Maariv headline from April 25, 1984. The headline read: “Iran In Final Stages of Production of Nuclear Bomb.”
Maariv is a Hebrew-language daily newspaper, which was founded in 1948, and is the second highest selling newspaper in Israel. To be fair, the above story in Maariv cited Jane’s Defence Weekly, which quoted West German intelligence sources regarding Iran. For a good perspective on the long-repeated warnings about Iran’s nuclear program, see this timeline at The Christian Science Monitor. The loudest warnings have come from the United States, the world’s nuclear champion and a signatory of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), and Israel, a nation believed to have as many as 200 nuclear weapons (undeclared) and a nation which has refused to sign the NPT.
As is now well-known, Iran signed an interim 6-month agreement on November 23rd, after a couple rounds of discussions with the United States and several other nations. The US will provide “limited” and “modest” sanctions relief in exchange for Iran “halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles,” among other concessions. According to President Obama, America’s toughest sanctions will continue to be applied to Iran. New channels of communication have certainly opened between Iran, the US, and other countries in recent weeks.
Many nations have treated these developments as good news. Saudi Arabia and certain other Gulf States (strongly opposed to the Shiite form of Islam) have not. Israel, predictably, is going nuts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had these words to say the next day:
“What was achieved last night in Geneva is not an historic agreement; it is an historic mistake. Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world… Israel is not bound by this agreement. The Iranian regime is committed to the destruction of Israel and Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself…”
It’s hard to know if Netanyahu actually believes what he says or not. The government he represents has been crying wolf on Iran for 29 years. Some are suggesting that Israel needs to keep hyping up the Iran issue in order to deflect attention away from its illegal settlements, bulldozing of Palestinian homes, the blockade on Gaza, and other controversial domestic activities.
Just as predictably, Christian Zionist sources (for example, author Joel Rosenberg) have lined up to agree with Netanyahu and continue to demonize Iran.
I’m glad to see these recent developments, though, and I believe they are good steps in the right direction. They are especially good for the people of Iran, who have been suffering the effects of harsh sanctions. As I shared in a post on this subject almost a month ago, the effects of sanctions on the Iranian people have included “a 20% unemployment rate, a 30% – 50% inflation rate, expensive basic goods, the plunging value of Iran’s currency, increasingly unsafe commercial aircraft, an increasing inability to export oil, and other economic ramifications. They are also said to be resulting in half the population struggling to provide food and shelter for themselves, and struggling to maintain emotional health.”
Iranian Muslims, Iranian Jews, and Iranian Christians alike have experienced these things, in part due to a relentless campaign of deceit, politicking, and warmongering that has been vigorously supported by the Christian Zionist movement. Only God knows the extent to which Iranian and Palestinian Christians have suffered needlessly as a result of activities and rhetoric coming from many of their professing brothers and sisters in Christ.
An NBC News article highlights the provisions Iran can expect to see with the new easing of sanctions, concluding that Iran’s people will only see “precious little” relief in the short-term future, but that this deal provides “far more of a psychological benefit than an economic one” for now. Some groups are still investing in efforts to not only reverse these changes, but to bring even harsher sanctions quite soon. Others are watching for the slightest indication that Iran is not holding up its end of this deal, so that such actions can be justified (allegedly). Meanwhile, in plain sight are 2007 intelligence reports and other official statements from the CIA, Mossad, and other agencies agreeing that there is no evidence Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.
While Israeli and Christian Zionist leaders continue to say that Iran is bent on destroying Israel, Iran’s Jewish parliamentary representative, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, praises Iran for allowing Iranian Jews to worship freely. Sedgh states that conditions for Iranian Jews are “better than yesterday, and today, our condition is much better than 10 years or 20 years ago.” Interestingly, he added that Iran’s Jewish community chose not to commemorate Israel’s 60th anniversary in 2008 because they are “in complete disagreement with the behavior of Israel” and its “anti-human behavior.”
The secular nation of Israel will do as it will do. As for God’s people, may we reflect and work toward God’s desire to see the nations, including Iran and Israel, healed by the river of life that flows from His throne (Revelation 22:1-2).