Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: How has Israel invented the Iranian threat and with which means does Israel try to keep it for ever?
Prof. Yakov Rabkin: In an earlier article I outlined the history of that invention (http://www.acjna.org/acjna/articles_detail.aspx?id=575 ). Israel used its allies and agents to promote it and make it into an international issue. Thus Israel was able to distract world attention from the Palestinians, and deal with them with impunity. No less importantly, this fabrication offered Israeli society another “existential threat”. Apparently, the non-existent Iranian bomb has now been replaced by another “existential threat” – BDS, international peaceful campaign to apply boycott, divestment and economic sanctions to make Israel change its policy toward the Palestinians. Some Israelis believe that their society would implode without these existential threats. Fear is what holds it together.
Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: How are the real relations between Jews and Irani people in Iran which has a big Jewish community?
Prof. Yakov Rabkin: While I have no direct knowledge of the situation of Jews in Iran, it appears they are doing no worse than other Iranians. There have been no violence or specific repressive measures reported.
Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: How can a refusal of Zionist ideology help us today to promote the friendship between the Jews and the Muslim peoples in general and Iran in particular?
Prof. Yakov Rabkin: It is important to emphasize that Zionism has been a rupture and a rebellion against Judaism. Most Jews opposed it when it emerged in the late 19th century. One must reject anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and understand that Jews around the world, whatever their vocal support of Israel, have no influence on Israeli policies. They should not be held responsible for what Israel is and does. Then one could see that Judaism and Islam are two of the closest religions to each other, that Jews lived a lot better in Islamic than Christian realms and that many classical works of Judaism are written in Arabic. Moreover, Jews with their experience of anti-Semitism in Christian countries can help Muslims to cope with the growing Islamophobia.
Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: What would you say to the German Chief of the Zentralrat der Juden Dr. Schuster who is saying about the Iranian deal that it is dangerous for Israel and for the stability of the whole Middle East?
Prof. Yakov Rabkin: Israel fans around the world repeat whatever they are told to say by their Israeli masters. With all due respect to functionaries of Jewish organizations in Germany, they may be less well informed than their government that signed the Vienna agreement. This kind of support for Israel is not innocent. Recently it was revealed (http://972mag.com/for-the-first-time-in-history-jews-can-take-part-in-war-from-home/109087/) that Jewish organizations were covertly used by the Israeli army to spread its message during the attack on Gaza in 2014. Obviously, those Jewish functionaries who agree to do this expose rank-and-file members of their organizations to reprisals, including violence. This is particularly grievous since most Jews, at least in the United States, support the Vienna agreement with Iran. Moreover, American Jews support it more than the average Americans (http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/US-Jews-much-likelier-to-back-Iran-deal-than-non-Jews-poll-410094). This shows the growing estrangement of American Jews from Israel, which only strengthens the point I made in my answer to your precious question. In view of this, one wonders whom exactly represents functionaries of Jewish organizations: Jews in their countries or the State of Israel.
Dr. phil. Milena Rampoldi: How long will people take to understand that Netanyahu’s position is wrong. What can we explain to these people to change their position?
Prof. Yakov Rabkin: Netanyahu relies on support from one of the main donors to the Republican Party. One can expect the Prime Minister’s credibility to remain sterling in those circles and their media. Elsewhere, he appears a lot less credible. But at issue is not his personality. Israel’s political mainstream is behind Netanyahu in denouncing the Vienna agreement. This is part of the inexorable shift of Israeli public to the right (http://972mag.com/for-the-first-time-in-history-jews-can-take-part-in-war-from-home/109087/). And this leads to Israel’s growing isolation in the world, including isolation from Jews in major countries.
Note: Prof. Yakov Rabkin is at the University of Montreal.