The Islamic regime that rules today’s Persia is not very different from the Israeli regime that oppresses the Jews of the Holy Land. Both regimes hide behind a sham of democracy while in reality an unelected elite runs the show. Both regimes are deeply unpopular with substantial segments of the population. Both regimes censor the opposition and use police brutality to stifle dissent. It is true that the Israeli regime is somewhat freer and is more artful in portraying itself as a “democracy”. But ultimately the differences between the two are largely cosmetic.
Therefore, it is educational to consider the differences between the Israeli regime’s success in Gush Katif and the current predicament of Teheran’s ayatollahs. In both cases, the regime undertook a heinous action against its own people. But, unlike the lemmings of the Holy Land, the Persian people refused to take the regime’s actions lying down. As of tonight, there have been large-scale riots and demonstrations in virtually every large city in Iran. These actions have the three major components necessary for a successful show of force against a totalitarian police state.
There is a loyal opposition protesting quietly.
There is a raucous opposition protesting loudly.
But above all, there are the youth willing to kill and die for the cause, willing to match the police blow for blow and to pay the butcher’s bill.
By using the power of modern communications, these youth have succeeded in putting out a flood of propaganda to compete with the propaganda of the regime. The regime tried to stop them by shutting down SMS and cutting off specific internet sites, but to no avail. The communications of the opposition cannot be shut down without shutting down the country, for only by completely shutting down the internet can the regime turn off every analogue to Twitter and You Tube. And so the regime is overwhelmed both by the volume of propaganda put out by the opposition and by the speed of the opposition’s decision loop. The youth who oppose the government are communicating in real time, competing on an even footing or even outcompeting the regime’s orders process with its hierarchies of telephone and radio calls.
It is these youth that have terrified the regime by forcing it to choose between backing down and putting tanks on the streets. Today’s announcement by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei that the Council of Guardians will undertake a formal review of the election results shows that the regime fears to put the tanks on the streets, because once the tanks are on the streets, all pretense of democracy is over. Once the tanks are on the streets and the red wine is served for true, the youth will trade their clubs and molotovs for bombs and submachineguns. And an ever-growing segment of the people will hide them, help them or at least look the other way. Every one of the student leaders at Teheran’s universities has likely read his Marighella and the regime knows it.
But worse yet, there is always the possibility that the soldiers will not shoot. Or that the Revolutionary Guard will shoot but the Army will not. It is probable that, if pushed to the wall, Iran’s ayatollahs will ultimately put the tanks on the streets. It is probable that the soldiers will shoot. But first the regime will seek a compromise with the opposition. It remains to be seen whether the opposition succeeds in taking advantage of this opening to secure real concessions.
At Gush Katif, at Amona and during the current round of antisemitic atrocities, the Jews of the Holy Land have refrained from forcing the Israeli regime into the choice between rolling out the tanks and backing down. Instead of seeking to kill and be killed in defense of the Land, the Holy Torah and the honor of Hashem, the Jews waved orange ribbons and passively absorbed the brutality of the police. And thus the regime won. Until the Jews force the Israeli regime into making the choice between tanks and compromise, the Jews will continue to go from defeat to defeat.
23 Sivan 5769