Saturday, April 25, 2009

What does the Persian Gulf Have to Do With Israel?

The issue of the name of the Persian Gulf is a sensitive one for Iranians, and so it may not be a surprise that NIAC took a step to publicly comment on a testimony in the US Senate during which the term Arabian Gulf was used to describe that body of the water.

However, what is striking is that in raising its concern, NIAC identified the usage of the term as a politically divisive one used "to create divisions in the region against non-Arab entities, particularly Iran and Israel."

Why would the naming of the Persian Gulf, a body of water that is no where near Israel, be a matter of concern to Israel? More importantly, why would the concerns of Israel be an issue for the National Iranian American Council?

Finally, the naming of the Persian Gulf as Arabian may be divisive, but it is also divisive to treat both Iran and Israel as though they have no Arab populations themselves. Iran has over 2 million Arabs and Israel has approximately 1 million Arab citizens who are Palestinian and hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews.

NIAC should seriously reconsider its approach to issues of importance to its Iranian constituency. As it is, NIAC is being as divisive as the terms it is critiquing, and it is also causing confusion for the consistent consideration and priority it gives to Israel's needs and concerns.