Tehran lobby’s dilemma: how to explain away Mullahs’s new threat to annihilate Israel

March 23, 2013

 As the Supreme Leader utters threats to erase Tel Aviv and Haifa and annihilate their populations, the Iranian regime is assured that its lobbyists and pundits in US will find new tactics for damage control and blame Israel and warmongers for provoking Iranian leaders

In a televised speech marking the Iranian new year “Norouz”,  the regime’s Supreme Leader declared: “At times the officials of the Zionist regime (Israel) threaten to launch a military invasion but they themselves know that if they make the slightest mistake the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”

Khamenei’s threat to attack civilian targets and annihilate hundreds of thousands of people puts the pro-Tehran lobbyists and pundits in a very uncomfortable situations to do the damage control and continue to present the Iranian regime as “reasonable and civilized”.

Predictably, they will continue to present Iran as a victim of Israeli bullying and frame Khamanei’s declaration as a reaction to Israeli belligerence. Past efforts by pro-Tehran lobby to explain away regime’s barbarism help us to understand their potential reaction to Khamenei’s latest threat.

On October 26, 2005 president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said that Israel must be “wiped off the map”.  This sparked outrage around the globe and the world leaders condemned Ahmadinejad’s statement.

The “Iran lobby” for its part reacted forcefully and denied that the Iranian President ever made such threat. They  argued that Ahmadinejad’s declaration was mistranslated by right wing neoconservatives to demonize Iran and pave the road for a military attack.

Trita Parsi president of Washington based lobby organization NIAC wrote in hisbook:  “Ahmadinejad’s statement has generally been mistranslated to read, “Wipe Israel off the map.” Ahmadinejad never used the word “Israel” but rather the “occupying regime of Jerusalem,” which is a reference to the Israeli regime and not necessarily to the country.”  (Book’s introduction. p. 285)

But the Iranian regime’s continued threat to annihilate Israel and the desire to send Jews to Alaska made the “mistranslation” argument non sense and therefore, new tactic were employed to help the Mullahs.

In an astonishing email written by NIAC’s community director Babak Talebi, he offered a genuine tactic to  manipulate public opinion and pale the Iranian regime’s incitement to genocide.

This email is an exchange among NIAC’s West coast board members who discuss the negative impact of Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israeli declarations. Talebi explains to his lobby partners that they should not solely insist on mistranslation argument because day after day Ahmadinejad repeats the same thing and shows his hatred of Israel. Therefore, the public opinion and US politicians do not buy this argument.

Talebi suggests a way to reframe the issue and coax the public: “as we discussed in the Seminar, in order to frame your issue successfully, you have to “go fishing with the bait that the fish likes, not the bait that you like” In other words, Talebi is trying to find an argument that the public opinion (fish) could bite and gets trapped in the net. The emails needs no comment:

“Mitra is 100% correct that this (AN declaration to wipe Israel off the map) was a mistranslation – whether in the official Iranian press, or intentionally on the part of the US media is a point that can (and is) argued… but what is important for today is to realize that it is now (almost) set-in-stone and the fact is that every time Ahmadinejad speaks he only confirms the mis-translation by repeating similar lines.  The point is that for both the US public AND the US media, the interpretation of this utterance is ‘believable’ and it would require a HUGE political force to change that mindset – and EVEN IF accomplished, it would not challenge or change the perception of Ahmadinejad as anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic.

So – a far more effective response with an actual chance at success and at stemming the possibility of this type of mentality leading to conflict is to ‘frame’ the issue in a different manner.  Arguing that Ahmadinejad is irrelevant to actual Iranian foreign policy is one such example.  Arguing that EVEN IF Iran had an ‘intent’ to harm Israel it does not have the capacity or political will to do so.  Etc.

As we discussed in the Seminar, in order to frame your issue successfully, you have to “go fishing with the bait that the fish likes, not the bait that you like”.  In other words, arguments that convince us that Iran will not attack Israel (ie it has not attacked anyone in 150 years, Iranians love Jews, its just empty rhetoric) would not necessarily work with the audience we are trying to convince.”

As the Iranian regime’s leaders continue to make threat against Middle eastern countries and spread terrorism around the world, they are assured that their lobby partners in the US will do their best to do the damage control and put the blame on Israel and American warmongers.

Iranian American Forum

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