Tehran Turns Up Heat

From the June 2001 Trumpet Print Edition

Billed as the “biggest anti-Israel gathering in 50 years,” 37 Muslim nations met in Tehran in April rallying to declarations of condemnation against Israel. The host country for the conference, Iran, does not recognize the State of Israel and has consistently called for the formation of a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The heads of the main anti-Israel groups—Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad—were all present at the conference, which was strident in its call for “continuing Palestinian resistance against Israeli aggression” (Xinhua, April 26). Iran’s official irna news agency published a final statement from conference delegates which declared that the Palestinian intifada is “a brave and righteous response of the defenseless people to the racist, brutal genocide staged by the occupiers of the motherland.”

Calling on all countries—Islamic nations in particular—to sever ties with Israel, delegates also hoped, according to conference chairman Ali-Akbar Mohtashami, to attract support from Western governments for “a new approach towards the Middle-East” (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, April 25).

U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker referred to a number of conference participants as terrorists, declaring that their names would be included in the periodical Patterns of Terrorism. This stirred the ire of Mohtashami, who railed, “We condemn the U.S. for supporting Israel which is a symbol of state terrorism and consider the remarks by the American spokesman as baseless and hostile.”

In condemning the U.S., Islamic leaders are looking to the European Union as a replacement prime negotiator in the Middle East quagmire. Barely weeks after this conference, the EU told Israel that it bore the main responsibility for the restoration of peace in the Middle East. Implicit in the EU stance is the prospect of a ban on all Israeli goods emanating from Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The EU has declared that all settlement activities in these areas are illegal under international law.

The Vatican, a longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause, will be a powerful ally of this anti-Israel stance. This all plays into the hands of the extremist elements in Islam and further serves to swing public opinion away from Israel, as the largely left-wing Western media continue to portray that tiny nation in a poor light.

“Iran has been trying to institutionalize the status of the anti-Israeli militia groups as legitimate freedom fighters for the liberation of their homeland, and the militia leaders themselves hope that the Tehran conference will at least lead to some changes in Europe regarding the issue” (ibid.).

Europe will be the emphasis from here on. Watch for Europe to become the prime “peace” broker in the Middle East. Look for the EU to take up the invitation, already issued by both Israel and the Palestinians, to supply a “peace enforcement” task force to surround Jerusalem in the not-too-distant future.