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Ayatollah Khamenei and Netanyahu: Two Sides of a Coin

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The main purpose of Ayatollah Khamenei's recent call to arm the Palestinians is to bring the West Bank under the control of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and do away with the more moderate PLO. His attempt to exploit the unimaginable suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza is a reflection of his doctrine of 'victory through terrorization' (al-nasro-belrob).

From my point of view, this is the same policy that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pursuing by inflicting such horror on the people of Gaza.

What Khamenei fails to understand is that when a person accepts the logic of armed violence, then he will inevitably accept that the people with the stronger military will prevail. Such a policy therefore only guarantees that the future will be a continuation of the present, which is a state of constant violence, domination and humiliation.

What helps Khamenei to spread this thinking is that in many Islamic countries, the understanding of religion has become alienated from its origins, and as a result people give a Godly role to power and force. They have thus created a destiny for themselves which generates more violence and suffering in the region. As long as the present discourses of power within Islam do not shift from this mindset to one of Islam through a culture of freedom and liberty, and as long as the occupation of Palestine continues, the ideas of people like Khamenei and Netanyahu will always find fertile soil.

What should be done?

Since the 1980s, right-wing politicians in Israel, among them Netanyahu, have advocated policies that would create divisions and conflicts within the countries in the Middle East as a sure way of guaranteeing the security of Israel. Then the various countries around the region would be preoccupied with struggles over border issues and control of oil fields and be unable to unite against Israel.

This approach has found allies among US neoconservatives. As a result we can see the drastic weakening of the state in Iraq, Libya and Syria and the open support of Netanyahu's government for the creation of a new country in Iraqi Kurdistan.

One unexpected by-product of this policy has been increasing insecurity in Western countries with large Muslim populations. The violent and fundamentalist forms of Islam, which are fuelled by the treatment of the Palestinians, increasingly recruit young people from these countries who are infuriated by their governments' support of Israel. This phenomenon has alarmed large numbers of Western politicians who are seeking to encourage a democratic, and hence more stable, Middle East.

Progressive Israelis need to counter the short-sighted policies of the right and support this approach. In order to do so, Israelis need to ask themselves what will ultimately guarantee their security, rather than falling into the propaganda trap of the right and supporting savagery in Gaza. The only thing guaranteed by gung-ho militarized efforts is the emergence of a more radicalised Palestinian movement. By contrast, a policy that would endorse democracy and justice in the region would deprive violent ideologies of their present fertile recruiting ground.

People like Khamenei and Netanyahu are like communicating vessels: they feed off and necessitate each other, and can't last without each other. These two do not care about Palestinians and their lot; otherwise, Netanyahu would not have killed off the Oslo peace accords and Khamenei would not support organizations like Hamas, which is violating the human rights of Palestinians.

Iran needs to do its share, which is in the first place is a non-violent mass movement to overthrow the regime, which sustains itself through creating crisis, and replace it with a home-grown democracy. Then, with regard to its neighbors and the rest of the world, it could introduce a policy based on the principle of 'negative equilibrium" - or a policy of non-alliance to achieve balance as advocated by Mohammed Mossadegh -- which would make it possible for all countries in the region and beyond to live independently and freely and to cooperate and coexist based on what they share in common.

The bloodshed in Israel and Palestine will never end unless both sides give up the cycle of violence. Ultimately, as Edward Said always advocated, peace will only come through a one-state solution in which the majority of the people on both sides truly become advocates of human rights and live together as full citizens of their country.

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