In a recent report, the Daily Telegraph revealed that Iran’s anti-Israel, hardline ruler, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does in fact have Jewish roots. The surprising discovery is based on an identity card, displayed by Ahmadinejad, during his election ‘campaign’ last year. According to the Daily Telegraph, the Iranian President’s family name, prior to conversion to Islam in the 1950s, is clearly indicative of Jewish origins.
The discovery that the number one enemy of the Jewish people comes from a Jewish family highlights a sad and unfortunate political reality in the Muslim world. It has always been true that the political establishment in Iran and other despotic Muslim countries use anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism to control and oppress their people. By creating an imaginary common enemy, the despotic rulers from Egypt to Iran to Pakistan divert focus from the abuses of their authoritarian regimes.
However, now Ahmadinejad’s extremely intense vitriol can be understood in a new light. Ahmadinejad has long been one of the most vocal opponents of Israel. While for the average Muslim despot an occasional fanning of the anti-Israel and anti-Semitic flames is sufficient to direct his peoples’ attention elsewhere; Ahmadinejad apparently has a real liability with his family roots. Like any bully he tries to maintain his power and keep his distance from what he hates about himself by attacking others. His intense anti-Israel tirades and Holocaust denial can be understood as a pre-emption against his own weakness.
What is most worrisome is that Ahmadinejad is now exporting his disturbing use of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism to some newfound political allies. The right-wing Ahmadinejad has long been cozying up with Venezuela’s leftist Hugo Chavez. The union has largely been one of anti-Americanism, shared nuclear knowledge, and assistance with terrorist activities. Now, as a recent article in the Wall Street Journal discusses, the union is sharing a growing hatred of the Jews.
Chavez, along with his allies in Honduras, is using the same tactics as the Muslim authoritarian regimes, and as the Nazis did before, to maintain power and control. Like their Muslim counterparts, the Latin American rulers are hoping to solidify their power and direct domestic unrest towards a scapegoat population. Furthermore, by allying themselves against the same common enemy, Chavez and his cronies are drawing themselves closer to Iran.
No good can come from this disturbing trend. As has happened many times throughout history, expanded persecution of Jews is often a harbinger of worse things to come. The growing Latin-Muslim axis is a threat to world Jewry and global peace. A common test of the freedoms of a nation is how the country treats its Jews. As Gandhi said, “The measure of a country's greatness should be based on how well it cares for its most vulnerable populations.” Iran and Venezuela are failing this test.