By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz
Ask any Western diplomat what he considers to be the greatest threat to peace and democracy in the world. Most would undoubtedly agree that it is militant Islam, which is fast approaching nuclear capability. In other words, the current government of Iran is the greatest threat to world democracy.
Ruled by hardline clerics since 1979, Iran is headed by a supreme ayatollah and ostensibly governed by elected officials. The person in command these days is a crafty lunatic bent on procuring nuclear weapons with which to terrorize the West. He has repeatedly threatened to bomb Israel to utter destruction. Experts take his threats very seriously.
The specter of a nuclear Iran hangs over the Mideast and Eretz Yisroel, overshadowing all other dangers, including the conflict with the Palestinians. In fact, previous Israeli governments going back to 1990 agreed to desperate concessions with the Palestinians, hoping that by resolving the Palestinian problem, Israel would be in a better position to deal with Iran.
Iran menaces not only Israel, but the entire Middle East. Exporting its brand of terror to other countries is one of Teheran’s key objectives. Through its many proxies, including Hezbollah and Hamas, it seeks to impose radical Islam on all countries in the region.
Given this grave danger and Iran’s pivotal role in the “Axis of Evil,” one would expect world leaders to make it their foremost priority to overthrow the current regime. However, this is far from the case. An endless round of ineffective negotiations, embargos and tough-talking but toothless pronouncements by successive world leaders have failed to halt Iran’s march toward nuclear power.
Rumors abound about Israel preparing to bomb Iran in order to halt its race towards nuclear capability, but for now this appears to be little more than talk.
America, too, remains undecided, with opposing political camps hotly divided on how to deal with the threat. The new president naively believes that through negotiation he can convince the radical mullahs to give up their quest for nuclear weaponry, the key to military ascendancy in the region.
The world’s inaction and fear has clearly emboldened Teheran.
To many of us, the true nature of Iran’s “mullahtocracy” has been long obvious. The clerics posture as divine advocates of peace and love, but their real ambition is clear: controlling the reins of power. The current election chaos in Iran has shattered their pretensions. The unleashing of a murderous militia on Iranians who protested a stolen vote has unmasked the true nature and agenda of Iran’s leadership.
This exposure was compounded last Friday, when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the “Supreme Leader” of Iran, warned of “bloodshed and chaos” to follow if the protesters don’t back down and recognize Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the legitimate winner of the election. Remarkably, the Supreme Leader’s previously unquestioned leadership was suddenly challenged. Seeing his true colors, the people defied him.
No longer will he be viewed by the Iranian people as an omnipotent moral leader, driven by his concern and love for them. His own actions have exposed him as a power-hungry hypocrite, far more interested in maintaining his grip on power than in carrying out his obligations to Allah and the Iranian people.
In the face of these public revelations, the response of the leaders of the free world has been bitterly disappointing. While millions of rank-and-file citizens of the West are cheering on the throngs of Iranians who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the cause of freedom, the leaders of the “free world” are fumbling about, uncertain how to respond to this unexpected Divine windfall.
Contemplate the amazing twist of events. While world leaders wring their hands over how to deter Ahmadinejad from his nuclear pursuits, the madman of Teheran comes closer and closer to reaching his goal. Seemingly out of nowhere, the people of Iran suddenly rise up to throw off the shackles of Islamic tyranny. Night after night and day after day, hundreds of thousands confront religious policemen who carry guns and steel batons. And not one Western leader has the courage to stand alongside them and proclaim what everyone knows to be true! Not one Western leader spoke forcefully in favor of the revolution to protest the election fraud and human rights abuses on the streets of Iran, perpetrated in view of the entire world. As dozens are killed and thousands are beaten and hauled off to jail, world leaders have contented themselves with mouthing feeble platitudes.
Not one has the moral courage and leadership to identify a murderer and a madman by his true name.
The same champions of morality who condemn Israel for not granting full rights to people who seek their destruction, the very same officials who strut about on the world stage condemning Israel’s leaders for enacting measures to protect the lives of their citizens, fall silent in the face of wanton brutality in Iran. They portray the hypocrisy of their positions by their double standard when it comes to Jews. They proclaim the presence of a few trailers as impediments to world peace. But when presented with an opportunity to actually spread democracy, or to advocate for the forces of freedom, they tiptoe around the truth, mumbling diplomatic nonsense.
As the Ayatollah maintains control by unleashing Iranian Revolutionary Guard units who shoot into the crowds, the international community remains silent. Meanwhile, the ongoing protests delay the talks that President Barack Obama has been waiting for since he began campaigning for the presidency. With each passing day, Teheran marches closer to its goal, while the window of opportunity for halting the fateful process is quickly closing.
Former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mir Hussein Mousavi are trying to prevent an apocalyptic ending to the Iranian republic, but no one in the West is reaching out to support them. Dissidents post videotapes of the mullah’s goons killing innocent young people, but President Obama fails to condemn the savagery, refusing to take sides. Shouldn’t the most powerful leader of the free world be boosting the morale of the freedom fighters? What is the rationale behind Obama’s silence?
Some say that he fears meddling in what he refers to as an internal Iranian problem, because he doesn’t want to burn his bridges with Ahmadinejad. They say that Obama has deluded himself into believing that Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, while resisting the pressure of the masses who oppose them, will not be able to resist the American president’s charisma and superior statesmanship. Why waste oratorical talent on behalf of the struggling revolutionaries, when he can earn world approval for winning over the madman who threatens the free world?
Obama may well prefer to keep Ahmadinejad in power, because only then can Obama establish himself as a world hero by neutralizing a world menace, thus saving civilization.
This kind of egotistic rationalization is unfortunately not limited to Obama. It exists as well in our own insular world. And it is the reason that evil continues to fester.
Not to compare people in our world with an evil maniac like Ahmadinejad, but there are times when we know we should take action but do not, because we make cheshbonos. When confronted with evil, and corrupt and depraved behavior, we are afraid to stand up and denounce it. We examine the issue from all sides, weighing the pros and cons of clear-cut opposition. We equivocate and try to figure out what’s in it for us personally, instead of considering the greater good.
When people prey on the weak, and we are hesitant to confront and expose them because we don’t want to appear as baalei machlokes, we are enabling evil to flourish. When we accept money and honor from people we know to be corrupt, we are encouraging these people to grow in power and influence. When we permit people we don’t respect to speak in our name and represent us simply because we don’t want to rock the boat, we are strengthening the hand of individuals who are incompetent to lead. When we permit others to publicly humiliate good people who have attempted to improve the public welfare, we are contributing to the moral pollution of our world.
Abused people cannot fight alone. Victims cannot be expected to have the moral stamina to fight off those who harmed them. By doing nothing to hold the guilty to account, we are as guilty as the perpetrators. The only way evil can flourish is if people of good will remain silent, either out of fear or self-interest.
We have to dedicate ourselves fully to the truth, while maintaining determination to courageously battle on its behalf. We must remain loyal to the good people among us when they come under attack. It is only with selfless and focused perseverance, coupled with courage, that we can survive as bnei Torah in the image of our forefathers. They had the fortitude to withstand the many obstacles thrown their way, maintaining their indomitable spirit and faith in times of darkness. In a world that has lost its moral compass, we must pray for the wisdom and strength to cling to our ideals and beliefs.
This week, we ushered in the month of Tammuz, one of the saddest months in the Jewish calendar. If we want to infuse joy into this month, we have to strengthen our abhorrence of sheker. It isn’t enough to posture. Standing on the sidelines trying to gauge winners and losers won’t accomplish anything. We don’t have the luxury of confining our concern to our own families. In the troubling times in which we live, it is the few courageous ones who have the ability to save the rest of us. We all have that strength within us waiting to be tapped. Let us rise to the challenge to be among those select few who can prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu bekarov.