June 19/09. Israel today finds
itself in unfamiliar territory. The revolutionary atmosphere building in
Iran presents Israel with a prospect it has rarely confronted: a safe bet.
With the Obama administration refusing to back the anti-regime protesters,
and the European Union similarly hemming and hawing, millions of Iranians
who are on the streets, risking their lives to protest a stolen election and
a tyrannical regime have been cast adrift by those they thought would
support them. To date, Israel has joined the US and Europe in rejecting the
protesters. This should change.
Whether he realized it or not,
Mousavi was transformed last Friday night. When Khamenei embraced the
obviously falsified official election results as a "divine victory" for
Ahmadinejad, Mousavi was widely expected by Western observers to accept the
dictator's verdict. When instead Mousavi sided with his own supporters who
took to the streets to oppose their disenfranchisement, Mousavi became a
revolutionary. Whether he had planned to do so or not, a week ago Mousavi
became an enemy of the regime.
The significance of Mousavi's
decision could not be more profound. Last Friday night Mousavi tied his
personal survival to the success of the protesters — and pitted his life
against Khamenei's. In Ledeen's words, "Both Khamenei and Mousavi — the two
opposed icons of the moment, at least — know that they will either win or
For their part, by the end of this
week, the protesters themselves had been transformed. If last week they were
simply angry that they had been ignored, by Thursday they had become a
revolutionary force apparently dedicated to the overthrow of the regime.
This was made clear by a list of demands circulating among the protesters on
As Pepe Escobar reported in
Thursday's Asia Times, the protesters demands include Khamenei's removal
from power, the dissolution of the secret police, the reform of the
constitution under anti-regime Ayatollah Hossein Montazeri who has been
living under house arrest for the past twelve years, and the installation of
Mousavi as president. These demands make clear where the protesters are
leading. They are leading to the overthrow of one of the most heinous
regimes on the face of the earth and its replacement by a liberal democracy.
As far as Israel is concerned, this
is a win-win situation. If the protesters successfully overthrow the regime,
they will have neutralized the greatest security threat facing the Jewish
state. And if they fail, Israel will still probably be better off than it is
today. For if the mullahs violently repress the pro-democracy dissidents,
the Obama administration will be hard-pressed to legitimize their blood bath
by embracing them as negotiating partners.