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Iran’s Elections—A Cause to Rejoice?

Austrian youth join program to intern with Holocaust-related institutions


March 2, 2000 | 6:59 pm

The western world did headstands and cartwheels last week as Iranian election results indicated that "reformers" easily won seats in Iran's parliament. According to news reports, "the Clinton administration is welcoming" election results as "as pointing toward a stronger hand for reformers who seek more freedom and engagement with the world." Calling State Department statements "warm," the Associated Press reports that "the balloting was a historic event, with the Iranian people showing they want policies that give them more freedom."

Does "more freedom" for the Iranian people mean a different way for Iran to conduct business in the world? While Iranians have come to expect major changes in society since their "reformer" President Mohammad Khatami began widening individual freedoms, freeing the press and reducing the clergy's interference in the government, the legal system and daily life, does it mean there is reason to expect the U.S. to drop Iran from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism? I think we must take a wait-and-see approach to the true impact of the Iranian elections before we jump into Khatami's arms and proclaim more than 20 years of Iranian hostility to the U.S. at an end?

Just a few months ago it was revealed in the U.S. press that Iran was rebuffing American efforts to warm-up relations with Iran. President Clinton even went so far as to secretly ask the Iranian government for help in uncovering evidence behind the bomb attack at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Instead of assistance, he received a stone cold silence from Iran, notwithstanding Iranian statements condemning terrorism.

Apparently expressing its frustration with Iran, the Clinton Administration then let it be known that Iran may have had more than a passing role in the 1982 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon and possible involvement in the Khobar Towers attack.

Last summer, Khatami met in Damascus with the heads of Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the group that killed my daughter Alisa in 1995, along with other terrorist groups intent on destroying the State of Israel. Their intent was not to dissuade them from terrorism but to support them. The meetings must have paid off as Hezbollah has obtained weapons (some of U.S. origin) that have wreaked havoc in the Lebanon security zone, causing Israel to rethink its position in southern Lebanon. Islamic Jihad has attempted several attacks within Israel, but due to good security work by Israel and the terrorists' ineptitude, injury and damage were kept to a minimum.

In addition, what of the 13 Iranian Jews who have been arrested and charged with treason? In the absence of a loud outcry from the rest of the world, these unfortunates would most probably have gone to meet their maker by now. Will Iran's reformers now release them?

Let's hold off on the optimism until we see real results from the elections in Iran. Let's wait for the cessation of financial, moral, and material support for terrorist groups in the Middle East. Let's wait for Iran to recognize and admit its role as the sponsor of death in Lebanon, Israel and around the world. Let's wait for Iran to stop development of weapons of mass destruction. But let's not hold our breath until that happens.

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