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  • Where Is Everyone?

    Posted by David Foster on June 22nd, 2009 (All posts by )

    An article in the Israeli publication Ma’ariv wonders: Where are all those demonstrators who so loudly denounced Israel during its Gaza operation? Why aren’t they out there protesting the beatings and killings of Iranians at the hands of the Iranian government?

    All the peace-loving and justice-loving Europeans, British professors in search of freedom and equality, the friends filling the newspapers, magazines and various academic journals with various demands for boycotting Israel, defaming Zionism and blaming us and it for all the ills and woes of the world—could it be that they have taken a long summer vacation? Now of all times, when the Basij hooligans have begun to slaughter innocent civilians in the city squares of Tehran? Aren’t they connected to the Internet? Don’t they have YouTube? Has a terrible virus struck down their computer? Have their justice glands been removed in a complicated surgical procedure (to be re-implanted successfully for the next confrontation in Gaza)?

    and

    A source who is connected to the Iranian and security situation, said yesterday that if Obama had shown on the Iranian matter a quarter of the determination with which he assaulted the settlements in the territories, everything would have looked different. “The demonstrators in Iran are desperate for help,” said the man, who served in very senior positions for many years, “they need to know that they have backing, that there is an entire world that supports them, but instead they see indifference. And this is happening at such a critical stage of this battle for the soul of Iran and the freedom of the Iranian people. It’s sad.”

    via Robert Avrech and Soccer Dad.

     

    18 Responses to “Where Is Everyone?”

    1. harry.angstrom Says:

      This is hardly the case at all!@
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/13/iran-demonstrations-viole_n_215189.html

      this link indicates the growing world-wide support for those fighting the regime in Iran. Manyh on the far left, as usual, blame the CIA and/or the Zionists for the chaos, but then that is hardly true of liberals, conservatives, libertarians…as they say:there is no accounting for, explanation of or justification for what the rulers in Iran are doing to the people in the streets. The videos in the link above show the support pouring out for the people of Iran.

    2. Tatyana Says:

      I have a different question: where are all those millions Iranian protesters of Israeli operation in Gaza, all those youths in the streets chanting “death to Zionists”, all in perfect harmony with their theocratic leaders? let me answer myself: why, they are in the streets now. They are the same people who are wandering aimlessly in shifting crowds in Tehran or throwing stones into policemen, or burning State bank, or videotaping their wounds and holding up bloodied hands in front of the cameras – or slogans “where is my vote?” in English. They are the same people.

      Their shouts of “freedom and democracy now!” (what do they mean by democracy, I wonder) are interspersed with “Allahu Akbar”. Their faces, shedding crocodile tears, are painted in green.

      I’m ashamed of western “humanists”, supporting the “oppressed people of Iran”. How stupid the world could be?

    3. david foster Says:

      HA…suppose you were to make a list of those who over the last decade have most fiercely denounced Israel for its supposed oppressions–the writers, the media types, the entertainers, the always-angry activists, the college professors. And suppose you were to see how many of those on the list were being equally fervent in denouncing the crimes now being committed by the Iranian government against its people.

      What do you think the overlap would be?

      I’d guess no more than 20%, probably less.

    4. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Actually, Tatyana, there are reports of Iranian students asking for help from Israel. A lot of these students are no more responsible for the regime’s policies than the Soviet citizens were responsible for theirs. Tom Freidman, no neocon, wrote a couple of years ago that the Iranians were the most pro-American people in the middle east outside of Israel.

    5. david foster Says:

      Here’s an interesting piece by an Iranian about the generation gap in that country.

    6. Tatyana Says:

      Oh, but of course they ask for help. From Israel, from America, from UN. And they use twitter! Well, they must be pro-Western, then.
      If I were the president, I’d pass. Deliberately, not out of indifference and incompetence, as Obama did.
      I know about generation gap. I also personally know an Iranian woman who was fortunate enough to be in Paris at the time of anti-Shah revolution, and after graduating Sorbonne went to live in US – and after 30 years absence returned to visit.

      I don’t remember anybody here differentiating between Soviet citizens and the regime when discussing the end of WWII and Soviet contribution; the whole country was painted black with broad brush. Also, there was no differentiation when Reagan talked about “Evil Empire”. Why attitude to Iranians should be different?

    7. Helen Says:

      Quite right, Tatyana. We should be supporting Ahmadinnerjacket who will provide stability to the region.

      I really think you should re-read some of the comments about World War II and what Soviet soldiers did or did not do. Equally, you should try to find out about the help many Westerners, including Reagan and people around him gave Soviet dissidents of every shape and size. The reason there is an outcry whenever there are threats to boycoott, say, all Israeli academics is because even if you disagree with the government you should not extend that to the people. Nobody ever did that with the Soviet Union or does now with Russia or China.

      So yes, we do support anyone who wants freedom and democracy and no, we do not necessarily know what they mean by that. What do Russians mean when they say they want freedom and democracy? Hard to tell when you look at the country, isn’t it.

    8. Jonathan Says:

      Democracy in Muslim countries may be different, including less free, than western democracy. However, I think that we should greatly prefer Muslim democracy over dictatorship. (And note that I’m not referring to Hamas-style “democracy” where there’s a sudden election and the only people running are gangsters of various types, but to the kind of system that is evolving in Iraq and IMO might evolve in Iran.) The anti-govt demonstrators in Iran may not all have the purest motives by our lights, but they oppose the odious Khomenist dictatorship and I think that we should support them for that reason alone.

    9. Tatyana Says:

      Helen, “we”? Who died and made you an authorized representative of Western democratic policies? I “really think you should” reconsider giving me advice; none is needed, on this particular topic.

    10. Tatyana Says:

      Jonathan, I think this is a short-sighted policy, to support the revolting crowds just because they are against the odious totalitarian Islamic regime. There is nothing, absolutely nothing to indicate the new regime will be any different; after all, the protesters are not proposing to change the method of governing or the government itself, just two particularly nasty figures. I don’t doubt there are some who are sincere in their desire of reforms, but 1) they don’t know what exactly they want, 2) they have no program, no organization, no money, no army, nothing. And these few are much outnumbered by tribal clans, various government military and semi-military forces. Most likely, this unrest will be used by Mousavi for coming into power – and he is no better than Ahmadinejad.
      Most important, for me, that in the winter during Israeli Gaza operation, there were 2 million people protesting it on the streets of Tehran. And they were screaming “Death to Zionists” out of their own free will; out of their deep conviction.
      I have no parliamentary or US government ties (thank god), so I can quite freely say what I think: let those two spiders fight and devour each other. Plague on both their houses. Whoever emerges, we’ll have to deal with them afresh; there is no indication that faction will be weaker or more receptive to Western values. Certainly no indication that faction will stop their nuclear program. And that’s all I’m concerned with.

    11. Jonathan Says:

      -I think that Iran with representative govt would be better for the interests of the USA and Israel than the dictatorship is (e.g., compare Iraq now and before), and representative govt is more likely if the current dictatorship is overthrown.

      -2 million in streets may not have been there voluntarily, or may have been bribed to attend, as I assume is typical in dictatorships.

      -Iranians aren’t noted for anti-American or anti-Israel sentiments. Iran was friendly with Israel before 1979, for example. Iran is ethnically and religiously diverse, and I think it’s unwise to lump general popular sentiment with that of the Islamists. Also, I think it’s likely that Iran fits the pattern of anti-American dictatorships whose people are generally pro-American.

      -I think it’s a good principle to make hostile dictators personally accountable. Ahmadinejad doesn’t care if thousands of innocent Iranians are killed, but the possibility that he will end up hanging from a lamp post might have good effects on his behavior and on that of prospective dictators elsewhere.

    12. jaed Says:

      Also, there was no differentiation when Reagan talked about “Evil Empire”.

      A silly remark, but perhaps it should be attributed to ignorance. In America at the time of Reagan, no one thought that the ordinary Soviet or Russian people were an “evil empire”; the remark was about the rulers. The ordinary people, we thought of as almost like prisoners in a giant jail; they were the first and most victims of the evil emperors.

    13. Helen Says:

      And I really think, Tatyana, that you should reconsider lecturing everybody on subjects they might actually know something about. To use your own question: who died and made you the arbiter of morality? Actually, when I say “we” about help to Soviet dissidents, I do know whereof I speak. So, kindly stop being so b****y patronizing.

      If you would care examine the evidence then you will find that Jonathan is right – Iranians are not noted even now for particular anti-Americanism and even anti-Zionism. The fact that they are driven out to demonstrate is irrelevant. That never happened in the Soviet Union? Did those meetings that denounced American imperialism mean that the people actually thought so? Of course not, and not that many people in the West believed it.

    14. Tatyana Says:

      I really don’t care what you think, Helen dear. Your “professional dissident” credentials make no impression on me. You’ve been weighted and found wanting.

    15. Tatyana Says:

      Jaed: that’s simply not true.

    16. fiona Says:

      Jaed:”In America at the time of Reagan, no one thought that the ordinary Soviet or Russian people were an “evil empire”; the remark was about the rulers. The ordinary people, we thought of as almost like prisoners in a giant jail; they were the first and most victims of the evil emperors.”

      Actually, Tatyana, it is true- having studied Russian before and during the Reagan era, I know that is exactly what most Americans thought of Russians, (not the nomenklatura or the intelligensia, but the average Russian man in the street) who did not get to go on trips to Europe or perform in the Olympics.

      It is also what I found to be true in living in Moscow years later chatting in parks with other dog owners – a lot of Russians who never hated Americans and coped with great terpenyia the onslaughts of their government.

    17. Tatyana Says:

      “Coped with great terpenya”? “Other dog owners”? Was that an attempt to make me laugh? It failed. Actually, that’s a good illustration of what passes for “informed opinion” here.

      Actually, Fiona, it is not true. I and all immigrants from former SU who came here share similar stories of barely conceived contempt; it is a common knowledge that unexpectedly large number of Americans do not differentiate between those of us with firm anti-Soviet, pro-capitalist and enthusiastically American principles, and the people and system we ran from. In any slight conflict – say, debate with a neighbor over dividing strip of grass, or an altercation in a subway car with a crazed bum – these close-to-surface convictions immediately come out. Somebody will hiss “commie” at you, or scream “go back to Russia!”. The image in collective American mind, generally, is formed by insanely stupid suspense movies and sensational press: first that comes to mouth of an average co-worker (an educated engineer or architect, mind you, not a garbage collector) when they hear my accent and learn that live in Brooklyn is “or, yes, Brighton Beach! Russian Mafia! Borcsht! KGB!” It was funny first 10 times, but I’m hearing it for over 17 years.
      In workplace situations people tend to follow decorum, but here on internet the impulses come unchecked. I’ll talk about my own experience, but I read about the same things on LiveJournal every day. So, the favorite “argument” from opponents in any discussion is to call me a comrade, or a “natasha”, or even “communist Russian bitch”. There is a woman who actually set up a fake blogspot blog with stolen part of my URL, where she mixes up all things Soviet, as she understands them, to “mock” me – Stalin, Tolstoy, russian names (Boris and Natasha), etc. She actually thinks herself very clever and probably a comedic genius; and the reaction from her possee confirms it – and these are Californian leftists, btw. There is also a guy who proclaimed in all seriousness that since my blog is bilingual, I must be not only a communist, but a KGB spy at that. He was very proud for unmasking me. In recent thread @neoneocon some lunatic “recognized” where my argument (for uselessness of sociological studies measuring happiness) is coming from – why, I was indoctrinated in Gulags of my youth, of course! Here, on this very blog, I was enlightened that my atheism, surely, comes from my childhood brainwashing in SU. An online fellow libertarian friend who had known me and my views for 3 years all of a sudden equaled me with leftism of Ayers and Obama – I can’t explain it with anything other than deep-seated distrust to people of my origin.
      I can go on and on.
      Funniest part is that general Americans’ vision of SU is so schematic and black/white, it never enters their mind that the terms they use just like a senseless labels mean something very different to ex-SU citizens. They don’t understand, for example, that communists circa 1980 were not the same as communists of 1936. That to become a member of the Party for millions of people was just a career move, not an ideological statement: there was NO other party in the country for 80 years! And if you wanted to become a manager of any sort, even on the lowest steps of ladder, your best bet was send in an application. Yes, you’d be required to sit at the meetings and sometimes to do a lip-service to official line, and engage in double speak, but there was no other way for the ambitious. That hundreds of millions habitually called each other “comrade” giving the meaning not a 1/100th of a thought. There are numerous other realities of life in SU, all shades of gray, that average American does not understand. And that would be absolutely fine, nobody expects them to do otherwise – if they wouldn’t harbor this broad-brush indiscriminate hatred that comes out at the slightest [often wrongly perceived] provocation.

      For some reason, I never heard of the same attitude towards expats from PR of China, or Poles, or newcomers from any other Eastern Bloc country. As if the whole populace of Poland consist of nobody but members of Solidarity Unions and as if for 50+ years Bulgaria, Jugoslavia or Vietnam were not run by local party and trade union members.

      No, Fiona, average Russian during Reagan era didn’t feel him/herself a prisoner. People lead their lives as an average American does: worrying mostly about money, and family and meeting with friends and listening to music and telling jokes. It’s just the money was sparse, political jokes could bring you much unpleasantness, and it was impossible to buy an apartment legally. Actually, it was more dangerous to joke if you were member of nomenklatura or intelligentsia – you had more to lose, not necessarily materially. And that most of the dissidents were members of privileged class. But that, and thousand other Soviet realities is too complicated for an average American to understand.
      What am I saying, “average American”…look at Condi Rice and her Russian thesis! Look at “Slavic” departments in most of the universities of this country!

    18. Tatyana Says:

      Oh, and about “studying Russian”. When I meet here Americans who can speak a little Russian (much funnier than my English, if you can believe it possible – but trust me, “terpenya” is a model of grammar compared to what I heard from Russian majors) do you know what they answer when I ask – “why Russian in particular? what attracted you to this language?” 80% of answers is “I wanted to study the language of Lenin”, or variations of it.
      When I heard it first, I was shocked and insulted. Then, hearing the same stupid nonsense received in marxists-infested American universities, I came to recognize it for what it for what it is: the other side of the medal, a rebellion against as widely-spread hatred of “communists”. This duality, a set of complementary ignorance, persists – and it doesn’t matter that either side is irrelevant even to the Russia of 1990s, let alone a contemporary country.