Self-Interest, Fear, and Honor

In talking with Manda Zand, the founder and director of The Alliance of Iranian Women, I learned that after the takeover of the Iran government by fundamentalists, many Iranian intellectuals and supporters of the Shah fled the country, knowing they would be killed. She was among those who left.

Manda expressed her disgust for Europe, which failed to protect some of these refugees who sought safe harbor there: one hundred and twenty eight refugees were subsequently assassinated in various European countries. France came in for her particular ire as it often let suspects get away, even when neighboring countries apprehended and returned them to France.

Now Iran Emrooz (an Iranian political online magazine) has published what Norm Geras calls “Iranians against the lie” – a declaration against the Holocaust denial conference put on, with great amounts of propaganda, by Iran’s current leader.

The declaration is dated January 20th and is signed by 104 Iranian refugees; they are not expatriates. It is a spare document, short and to the point, both in condemning the current Islamic regime’s hallucinatory Holocaust denial, and in noting the previous history of anti-Semitism in Europe:

Notwithstanding our diverse views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;

Considering that the Nazi’s coldly planned “Final Solution” and their ensuing campaign of genocide against Jews and other minorities during WWII constitute undeniable historical facts;

Deploring that the denial of these unspeakable crimes has become a propaganda tool that the Islamic Republic of Iran is using to further its own agendas;

Noting that the new brand of anti-Semitism prevalent in the Middle East today is rooted in European ideological doctrines of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and has no precedent in Iran’s history;

Emphasizing that this is not the first time that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has resorted to the denial and distortion of historical facts;

Recalling that this government has refused to acknowledge, among other things, its mass execution of its own citizens in 1988, when thousands of political prisoners, previously sentenced to prison terms, were secretly executed because of their beliefs;

Strongly condemn the Holocaust Conference sponsored by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tehran on December 11-12, 2006, and its attempt to falsify history;

Pay homage to the memory of the millions of Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and express our empathy for the survivors of this immense tragedy as well as all other victims of crimes against humanity across the world.

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The website has published the names, professions, and countries of residence of all 104 signers of this declaration. These people are very brave to have taken this stand for they know that a madman is in control of their country. He could well send his goons after them, too.

Think about it. Could you, in their position, dare to publicly refute The Lie and have your name, your job, and your whereabouts published?

I haven’t experienced their suffering. Maybe they know, unlike us, that there are indeed worse things than dying. What was it that Thucydides taught about human behavior? That all of us are guided by only three things: self-interest, fear, and honor? I think that’s what he said.

When your country is gone, self-interest lessens. When your friends and family are killed, what is left but honor?

2 thoughts on “Self-Interest, Fear, and Honor

  1. The individuals who signed this are unusually courageous. The depth of conviction to publicly announce these beliefs in that environment virtually guarantees ostracism and harassment at the very least.

  2. Notwithstanding our diverse views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;

    The Israeli conflict is due to the cultural anti-Semitism of the region and characteristically, she blames the West for bringing it to them. Middle Easterners just orientalized Nazism (useful term once you take away Arab victimization), and now have an internationally recognizable method, along with Palestinian victimization, to spread their bigotry through the Muslim and Arab words (Arab Christians are the founders of the Nazi style Baath party). I think she failed her launching towards introspection because she is still missing key humanistic fuel for a successful ignition. Forgive me for being so demanding.

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