According to reports coming out of the Middle East regarding demonstrations in Iran becoming more intense and deadlier by the day, among chants being uttered by college students and others protesting rising prices, ongoing repression, and other issues was, according to Ebin Sandler of World Israel News on December 30, 2017, "never mind Palestine, think about us." Over the years, this was not the first time the Iranian people expressed such feelings. Indeed, despite the mullahs' attempts to deflect criticism by blaming the Christian West's and the Muslim East's favorite scapegoat--the Jews and/or the Jew of the Nations--for all of the region's problems, the Iranian Street has increasingly seen through this. Ahmadinejad's stolen election and mass repression of 2009 now especially come to mind.
The mullahs have tried all sorts of deception to protect their derrieres. Take their alleged devotion to "Palestine" and the annual "Jerusalem (Quds) Day" celebration for examples. Please allow me to elaborate...
As the lion's share of the original 1920 Mandate of Palestine was handed over by the Brits to Arab nationalism in 1922 with the creation of what would later be renamed Jordan, a more than just partition of the land favoring Arabs had thus already been completed between the two nationalisms competing for it. Indeed, before possibly obtaining, in the future, a second state for themselves, Arabs wound up with some 80% of the total area...Okay, so, what does this have to do with Iran?
You see, the real place where justice for Arabs has not yet been addressed is in–now hold onto your seats–Iran itself. When's the last time you heard anyone talk about that?
During the 7th century CE, Muhammad's successor Arab Caliphal armies burst out of the Arabian Peninsula and colonized, settled, forcibly Arabized, and spread the Dar ul-Islam by a conquering sword in all directions. Judaea–renamed Syria Palaestina (for the Jews' historic enemies, non-Arab Philistines from Crete) by conquering Romans after the Jews' second revolt for freedom in 135 CE–became occupied by Arabs at this time...And so did Iran.
Using southern Iraq as a springboard, southwestern Iran–Khuzestan province in particular–traded back and forth between Arab and Iranian rulers. While it became subsequently linked to Iran despite repeated Arab invasions over the centuries, Khuzestan became so extensively Arabized that, in Safavid times (16th-18th centuries CE), the province was commonly known as "Arabistan." In modern times, not until Iran's Reza Shah Pahlavi defeated him in 1924, the Arab Sheikh of Muhammarah ruled much of the area.
Arabs remembered all of this very well. Indeed, latter-day, Iraqi-based Arabs, under Saddam Hussein's banner, launched the long and bloody Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. It was fought largely over this oil-rich and strategically important area...Khuzestan for Iranians, Arabistan for Arabs.
To deal with its own "Arab problem," Iran has ruthlessly suppressed Arab nationalism by all means necessary. By the early 20th century, a proposal had been put forward to even outlaw the Arabic language (Israel has made Arabic the second official national language). Here are some excerpts as to how the British Ahwazi Friendship Society reported the situation on July 29, 2005:
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) released a statement condemning the recent violent repression of ethnic minorities in Iran following the election of right-wing hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. ...Pointing to clashes between security forces and Ahwazi Arabs and Kurds, Nicola Dell'Arciprete, UNPO Assistant General Secretary, said: "The UNPO condemns the Government's repressive policies against all the Iranian citizens. Iran is a multi-ethnic country in which half of the population belongs to ethnic minorities such as Azeri, Gilaki and Mazandarani, Kurds, Arabs, Lurs, Balochis, Turkmen....
An April 2011 account of this can be found here http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/al-ahwaz-will-always-be-arab-1.786524 .
I'm curious...How many times have you students of the Middle East heard your professors--who typically place Israel under the high power lens of moral scrutiny regarding Arabs--ever mention any of the above? Throughout my own undergrad and graduate work, not a word was mentioned nor a book offered on the subject.
Recall how the Islamic Republic of Iran likes to sit on its moral high horse lecturing Israel about such things.
"Palestine" underwent partition, as did the Indian subcontinent (with the creation of predominantly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, and later Bangladesh as well). Since the mullahs are quick to point fingers elsewhere, please tell me why the human and political rights and aspirations of other peoples should not also be addressed in Iran as well?
Had Arabs accepted the additional, post-1922, 1947 partition plan, they would have wound up with about 90% of the total territory of the original 1920 Palestine Mandate.
Like the Arabs, Iran's mullahs refuse to acknowledge any of the above, claim all Israel's Jews were from Europe (tell that to Israel's former Iranian-born President and chief of staff) and the like; yet, they answer the political aspirations of tens of millions of non-Iranians living on their own soil only with massacre and repression. Hypocrisy at its worst.
Turning again to the Arabs of Khuzestan/Arabistan, at any hint of unrest, Iran has been quick to act in its own national interests. Arabs have been ethnically cleansed and replaced by Aryans. As just one of many examples, when Arabs of the Nahda (Renaissance) movement bombed Iranian targets years back in Ahwaz and elsewhere, Iran arrested thousands and set out to "fix" the problem by any means necessary. Iranians continuously do likewise with Kurds, Baluchis and others who dare to assert their own political rights. Thousands have been killed as a result over the years in the name of Iranian nationalism. Kurds and others are hung for merely demanding basic rights.
Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the ayatollahs have held an International Quds (Jerusalem) Day on the last Friday of Ramadan. The reality is that they do this so that there won't be an Al-Ahwaz Day.
So, this all begs the question...
Why does justice supposedly demand that the sole, resurrected Jewish State–half of which consists of Jewish refugees from Muslim lands (including 140,000 of Iranian ancestry)–consent to national suicide so Arabs can have their 22nd state, and second, not first, in Palestine, but some eight million Arabs in Khuzestan/Arabistan should not gain independence from Iran?
If a Palestine much smaller than Iran could undergo partition in the name of justice for competing national groups, then why should the same principle not apply for millions of Ahwazi Arabs, Kurds, and other oppressed peoples in Iran as well?
It's time for this nauseating duplicity to end.
The next time Iran's leaders opine on such issues, there is but one response that they should get, for perhaps it is indeed time for that additional state for Arabs that they demand to be born...
Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs, created and conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly debated many Arab and other anti-Israel spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and websites all around the world. He is the author of The Quest for Justice in the Middle East.