Iran As Victim? University of San Francisco’s Prof. Stephen Zunes Thinks So

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Of such voices, Zunes had nothing to say, and he casually discounted Iranian exiles living in the U.S., many of whom fear for their lives:

There have been some U.S.-funded opposition groups. Most of these are tied to exiles who have virtually no support inside the country, no impact on uprisings . . . there have been all sorts of sordid interventions . . . you have a few wannabes in the exile community, particularly in L.A.

As for the Iranian regime’s threats to annihilate Israel, Zunes blithely assured the audience that:

Iran is not going to nuke Israel. Get real. It’s a repressive regime, but they are not suicidal. Israel has massive deterrents as does the US and other allies.

This would come as news to the Iranian mullahs, who are adherents to Mahdism, the apocalyptic belief in the return of the twelfth Imam who, at the end of times, will wage war against unbelievers and the forces of evil and establish a worldwide Islamic state. Might a nuclear conflict with Israel spark such a fanatical scenario? Zunes never raised the question.

Echoing a well-worn canard originated by University of Michigan history professor Juan Cole, Zunes claimed:

And by the way, Ahmadinijad, he’s really hardcore, he’s anti-Semitic, but he never said ‘Israel should be wiped off the map.’ That idiom doesn’t even exist in Farsi. What he’s doing is quoting Ayatollah Khamenei from twenty years ago. . . . What he said was the regime occupying Jerusalem should ‘vanish from the pages of time’. . . . Ahmadinejad clarified that in a later interview. He’s talking about a unified Palestine. He’s not talking about killing the Jews . . . he’s talking about regime change.

Zunes might want to consult Nazila Fathi of the New York Times Tehran bureau, who provided a translation of Ahmadinejad’s October 26, 2005 speech at “The World Without Zionism” conference in Tehran—the source of the quote in question. His exact words were: “Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement.” In addition, and as noted by Iran expert Michael Rubin, “the Islamic Republic provides its own clarification. In its official translations, it headlined Ahmadinejad’s call to ‘wipe Israel off the map.’” The Iranian regime’s genocidal incitement can been seen on propaganda billboards across the country and heard in countless statements from officials, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who recently called Israel a “’cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Zunes claimed that a potential attack on Israel is not up to Ahmadinejad because, as he put it, “He’s not the commander-in-chief. It’s up to the Guardian Council—a committee—and as a rule committees don’t go for crazy provocative acts.”

Apparently, a committee would never try to: assassinate a Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C.; kill its own nuclear scientists for talking to the IAEA; use its proxy, Hezbollah, to blow up U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut; kidnap the entire U.S. embassy staff; bomb a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires; attempt to take over Lebanon; terrorize and assassinate Iranian dissidents in other countries; supply weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah; help train the 9/11 terrorists; nor order all Muslims worldwide to kill a writer for alleged blasphemy. Yet all of this was done in the name of the Khomeinist Islamic revolution.

Zunes referred to the current scenario in which Israel, according to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s recent statement to the media, could attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in the spring, by asking if,

Israel [would] do something on its own? Obama has made clear he would not tolerate that. You saw Eisenhower in 1956 . . . when it comes down to real important national security issues, Israel can’t change U.S. policies. But even if they don’t plan to go to war, we prepare and threaten war . . . it makes it difficult to stop.

In Zunes’s mind, the U.S. and Israel are always the instigators of war, rather than the bellicose Iranian regime that has terrorized not only its own population, but much of the civilized world. He would do better to direct his closing call to “prevent another war in the Middle East” to Tehran.

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  • David M

    Communists have found Islam as their new religion whether in the US or Iran. The Tudeh Party (Iran's and Middle East's oldest and largest communist party and a branch of the KGB) did its best for Khomeini in every aspect from intelligence, torture and executions of Iranians who resisted Khomeini. When communists had no use for Khomeini anymore and it was the time to get rid of these communist rats they fled Iran but not to Russia, China, North Korea or Cuba but to Europe and the US. No surprise that they are in bed with Iranian agents and working against the West and Iranians who oppose the Islamonazi regime in Iran. Islam, Communism and Nazism are three totalitarian ideologies and and it is natural that Muslims, Communists and Nazis all over the world are against the West because of its freedom. I warn that there are many Iranian communists and Iranian regime agents (embassy staff, businessmen, students, academia, ”human rights activists”) who pose a serious threat to the security of the West.

  • Brujo Blanco

    It curious that these Communists carp about violence directed at countries like Iran and do not address Iranian violence. I believe that Iran will eventually make an unprovoted nuke strike against some nation. No doubt if this happens against Israel the left will claim the Jews are responsible for this strike because of way the Jews are.

  • Marty

    zunes did get one thing right: the iranian people (understandably) despise their corrupt and autocratic government. But iranians, unless they are persian (perhaps half of the total population), aren't very nationalistic. The kurds, arabs, azeris certainly are not excited about preserving persian supremacy. The destruction of the nuclear program might trigger the destruction of the regime and both might inspire the disintegration of the iranian state – a good thing really. The end of the mullahs would in turn thwart hamas and hizbollah plans to murder more Israelis with iranian weapons. There is no downside to any of this.

  • bagofdirt

    Dare him not going into Iran and do his Atheist stuff. Oh, maybe he is a Muslim in disguise?

    My enemy's enemy is my friend. Sound familier?

  • Sage on the Stage

    Stephen Zunes and most of the remainder of the left-leaning faculty at the University of San Francisco are living in the past. They frequently remind listeners about how their university told a College football bowl committee to take a hike, when that committee , in 1951, invited the USF Golden Don football team to a bowl game, on condition that they leave a certain black player home. All well and good; however, that was 60 years ago;
    and one frequently hears comments from today's faculty, administrators, and students, about what a "racist country" America is, in 2012. And I find it strange, to say the least, that a university faculty that is so good at spotting racism in America, refuses to see any racism in Iran; a country ruled by a blatantly genocidal judeophobic America-hating Muslim clique. USF? Right next to the Haight-Ashbury district; no surprise there. My son and daughter won't go to school there.

  • Ghostwriter

    Is this Zunes character living in the same world as we do? Iran,a victim? Hardly. I'll shed no tears for the day that A-jad and his friends are overthrown in Iran. In fact,it'll probably be a great day for the whole world.

  • Nakba1948

    Yet another example of bipolar thinking among the Ziocons. You can dislike the Iranian regime, the Zionist regime, and the Israel-firsters in the American government without being inconsistent. Just because you reject the oppressive, backwards theocracy in Tehran doesn't mean that you by default supporting the murderous Zionists and their efforts to start WWIII. Putting aside the fact that the US has no money to fight yet ANOTHER war, it's not worth the geopolitical consequences of going to war with Iran. If you think otherwise, then I encourage you chickenhawks to put your money where you mouth is, enlist in the US military, and volunteer to go fight in these "righteous" wars half a world away.

    • Sage on the Stage

      I'll go you one better. The only power that wants to start WW3 is the murderous, backwards theocracy in Tehran. Its absolutely worth "the geopolitical consequences of going to war with Iran," because the alternative is to allow Iran to
      go nuclear. What are you going to say when Iran goes nuclear and targets the area where YOU live? And by the way, I've experienced the terror of rocket attacks, in Beersheba, firsthand; while lying, deceptive Judeophobes like you laugh at Israeli soldiers, who take great risks to not fire at, or near, Palestinian civilians. Go worship Ahmadinajad, and his cowardly minions;; and your brave Hamas warriors, who hide behind the UNWRA building in Gaza, while taking potshots from hiding, at the IDF.

      • Nakba1948

        Go harvest another organ, you illiterate Zionist pig (you obviously didn't read my comment). The IDF is nothing but a glorified terrorist organization. Easily worse than the Hamas.

        • APP

          Nakba48, you are in fact an Arab Nazi, spewing lies. Zionism = Love for Israel, the eternal home of the Israelis, the Hebrew people. King David was the ruler of which people? Where? The IDF is the army of the State of Israel, a distinguished member of the community of civilized nations. You, as all other Arabs, originate from the Arabia. You have been murdering, pillaging and raping your way on other people's lands since you demented pedophile Muhammad, whose "wife" Aisha was 9 (nine) year old!!!