viewpoint: ben cohen

Nothing's changed. Iran’s still our enemy


“When in Rome, do as the Iranians do.”

That was the core message from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Europe last week, in a bid to boost trade relations now that the sanctions related to Tehran’s nuclear program have been lifted. Arriving at Rome’s venerable Capitoline Museum for a meeting with his Italian counterpart, Mateo Renzi, Rouhani was swiftly escorted past the museum’s priceless collection of Roman statues, including many nudes that had been covered up—yes, really—to avoid offending the sensibilities of a man frequently and falsely described as a “moderate.”

It has, finally, come to this. Western leaders don’t even blink when it comes to agreeing to the demands of Iran’s ruling theocracy. When our female politicians visit Iran, they are compelled to wrap their heads with the hijab. But when Iranian politicians visit our countries, we bow and scrape and now hide those aspects of our Western culture. Our leaders are doing a marvelous job of proving to the Iranians that when they say, “Jump,” we ask meekly, “How High?”

Anyone who questions the wisdom of this strategy will be labeled a “warmonger,” or worse, a supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When Iranians demonstrate that they view our democracy and our way of life with contempt, a chorus of Western politicians and commentators try to change the subject, typically by talking about the malicious designs of Israel’s elected leader. President Obama set the standard on this one for the last eight years, and his media echo chamber dutifully follows. Hell, they’ll even make stuff up if that’s what’s needed.

Take Forward columnist J.J. Goldberg, who has been trying to persuade his readers that the Israeli security establishment thinks the nuclear pact is actually a great idea, only Netanyahu won’t permit them to say so openly. So he hunts around looking for anything—an isolated quote, a bodily gesture, a suggestive pause—that might count as evidence that his beloved Obama is right about Iran.

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