Yet Ahmedinejad isn't stupid. He knows he can gain some political capital out of diverting the attention of his electorate from the failures of his government.
More dictatorial and less democratic regimes ruling Muslim-majority states also enjoy feeding anti-Semitic nonsense onto their people. Here is what Firas Ahmed, deputy editor of Islamica magazine, has to say on the subject ...
Ahmedinejad is a pragmatic realist, in the
Machiavellian sense of the term. He would not initiate this type of anti-semitic
discourse if he did not think it would help him garner support. And the true
tragedy is that there are probably some who think higher of him for doing it.
However, Arab peoples are not inherently anti-Jewish. They are simply responding
to what their leadership gives them.
One of the few consistent freedoms Arabs
across the region have had since colonial independence is the freedom to
belittle, caricature and dehumanize Jews. If a street light blacks out in
Damascus, rest assured it will be blamed on the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Peruse a book bazaar on the streets of Cairo and you will either find a copy of
the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” or a children’s book equivalent. The
anti-semitism that Ahemdinejad is feeding on with his Holocaust commentary is
the product of decades of political oppression and economic stagnation. The
ruling regimes of the Middle East have used and manipulated the Palestinian
tragedy to pacify their populations in hopes that they forget their own
leadership leaves so much to be desired.
Ahmedinejad’s discourse on Jewish history is
by all means reprehensible, there is nothing to be gained by revisiting the
magnitude of the Holocaust. The real tragedy, however, is the political
repression of the Arab peoples by their leadership. Anti-semitism will remain a
potent political tool in the Middle East as long as Israel is the only thing
Arabs are allowed to publicly complain about.
When people living in the Arab world begin to focus on themselves and stop blaming everything on fictitious Jewish conspiracies, they might find their lives might actually improve.
© Irfan Yusuf 2007