Thursday, November 30, 2006

Former Israeli Ambassador to Iran and current advisor at the Israeli Defense Ministry, Uri Lubrani, has fashioned a statement that rivals the "best" orientalist cliches of all time:

"The Iranians have the patience of an elephant. They're a nation of carpet weavers. And weaving a carpet takes a year."

A nation of carpet weavers?

I've been smiling at this statement all day, but even more hilarious is Mr. Lubrani's plan for regime change in Iran. In answer to the question of what methods he prescribes for the overthrow of the current government, Mr. Lubrani responds:

"With every possible method. I'm talking about propaganda, psychological warfare, financial assistance....I feel that conditions are ripe for carrying out a regime change. For example, it's possible to organize a strike in the oil industry".

How is it that Mr. Lubrani, who has been in the Iran business for decades, not know that all of these methods, including efforts to infiltrate and co-opt the efforts of labor unions, have been tirelessly employed for the last 26 years? Where exactly is the innovation in what Lubrani is suggesting?

Incidentally, I learned via this article yesterday, that according to the Algiers agreement of 1981 signed by the U.S and Iran to end the hostage crisis, the U.S. pledged "that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in IranĂ‚’s internal affairs."

Israel, of course, has not put its name to any such statements, but with or without making false promises, it is still in contravention of international law to interfere in Iran's internal affairs, either through nauseating daily propaganda or through covert operations on Iranian soil.

Mr. Lubrani may not be right about Iranians having the patience of an elephant, but we may well have the memory of one: Events as distant from each other as the shameful CIA coup d'etat of 1953, the Russian theft of Iranian territories during the Qajar era, and the invasions of the Moguls and Arabs in centuries past continue to burn in the Iranian imagination.

Anyone who suggests inteference in Iranian affairs as a tactic for winning hearts and minds has no conception of the function of historical memory in Iranian politics and culture. And this, sadly, means that the Iranians will continue to have disasterous foreign intervention to add to the historical laundry list of grievances.