I’m a veteran of the Iranian revolution. I was hardened by the revolt’s fire, which burned and continues to burn millions worldwide for more than three decades now. As such, I have a thing or two to say about the current “social revolution” in Israel. I greatly hesitated whether to write these lines, lest I be lynched; ultimately I decided that a former revolutionary like me must not be silent at this time, even at the price of being stoned at the square.
In 1977, I was a young student at the University of Tehran. Like any normal student I dreamt of “social justice,” complained about the stifling atmosphere in the country and sought to be freed from the chains of tyranny. In those days, unrest started to spread across Iran and middle class whining over the cost of living and corruption turned into increasing strife.
Seemingly, this was a popular revolution started by the people and seeking to make their lives better – what else could a young, idealist student ask for? Yet if you did some digging, you would discover unpleasant surprises. You would expose people that in the service of foreign interests provoked and muddied the atmosphere, made a big deal out of the smallest issues, and “helped you understand” how miserable and screwed up you were and why you must rise up.
Suddenly you would discover people who only a day earlier returned from a trip to Europe and bought a new car complaining about “the collapse of the middle class.” Men and women would spend the night at a pub only to join the protests in the morning and chant in favor of returning to the noble values of Islam and against “Westernization” (the synonym of “globalization” at this time.)
The merchants who themselves robbed the people at the Tehran bazaar protested against robbery and corruption (which of course had nothing to do with their own actions, heaven forbid.)
So I toed the line and remained silent, too scared or embarrassed to raise questions about the “revolution.” In the evening a rumor would spread that Khomeini’s image would be seen on the moon overnight, and in the morning you would wonder how come you were the only one who failed to see it, with everyone looking at you with pity (“well, he’s just a Jew,” they said.)
At the end of the day I did not take part in that cursed revolution, which in the name of freedom and social justice brought destruction and death to those people. I sat home and waited for this wave to pass, yet it hasn’t passed to this day.
Don’t let them fool you
But at this time, when I see protests initiated by well-to-do, spoiled youngsters, I cannot remain silent. Just like me, everyone can look around and decide whether they are being fooled by foreign interests and are used as pawns by people only interested in replacing the “wrong government” by what they view as the “right government.”
Each one of us has the responsibility to examine their own situation with open eyes and decide whether things are good or bad. If you are one of the 1,200,000 Israelis who traveled abroad this year with pockets full of dollars, then things are surely not so bad. If you are one of the 240,000 people who got a new car this year we are permitted to think that your economic situation is not so catastrophic.
If you are one of the thousands of people who replaced theor 32 inch LCD screen with a 42 inch LED or bought a fifth generation smartphone, or highly advanced appliances, you better reconsider whether you belong to the “collapsing middle class.” If, like me and like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, you too had trouble booking a table at a good restaurant even on a weekday, then we are apparently not hungry for bread.
The State of Israel’s economic situation was never better. That is a fact, even if there are still some people among us who are hungry, who lost their jobs, or are having trouble making ends meet (without wasting money on exported cigarettes, doing their nails or getting an advanced cell phone.)
We better keep this in mind before we are dragged into the streets to yell and protest behind people who belong to groups that are not committed to social justice. If you want to attend the next rally, you better ask yourself who the hell funds it? Who paid for the stage and lights and sound system and signs? Was everything donated just for the sake of giving?
Or in other words, don’t let them fool you.
Dr. Maharan Frahadian, a Holon resident, is a pediatrician and drives a second-hand Toyota Corolla
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