Diplomacy

NYT Columnist: Anti-Semitism is a “Core Element” of Iranian Leaders’ Worldview

After asserting that anti-Semitism is a “core element” of the worldview of Iran’s leaders, New York Times columnist David Brooks asked in a column published today if we need a new approach to confronting Iran.

In the Middle East, anti-Semitism has the feel of a deranged theoretical system for making sense of a world gone astray. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, doesn’t just oppose Israel. He has called it the “sinister, unclean rabid dog of the region.” He has said its leaders “look like beasts and cannot be called human.”

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran reinstated a conference of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. Two of Iran’s prominent former nuclear negotiators apparently attended. …

This sort of anti-Semitism thrives where there aren’t that many Jews. The Jew is not a person but an idea, a unique carrier of transcendent evil: a pollution, a stain, a dark force responsible for the failures of others, the unconscious shame and primeval urges they feel in themselves, and everything that needs explaining. This is a form of derangement, a flight from reality even in otherwise sophisticated people.

Brooks writes that this kind of anti-Semitism must be “confronted with deterrence and force” if necessary because it “can’t be reasoned away.”

Brooks also relates his observations to the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.

In the Obama administration, there are people who know that the Iranians are anti-Semitic, but they don’t know what to do with that fact and put this mental derangement on a distant shelf. They negotiate with the Iranian leaders, as if anti-Semitism was some odd quirk, instead of what it is, a core element of their mental architecture.

Brooks’ observation suggests that he would agree with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said last week in an interview with NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell:

And the second thing, that the important thing is that the lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program would depend on Iran’s change of behavior, that it would stop supporting terrorism, stop its aggression against just about every country in the region and stop calling, stop threatening the annihilation of Israel.

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