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Why does Rabbi Michael Lerner lie about Iran?

I’m sure he’s just parroting the lies that are common among his crowd. But when lies have been thoroughly debunked for months or years, people who parrot them are liars, even if the lying is motivated more by naiveté than malice. Here is what Rabbi Lerner just emailed me:

Editor’s Note: Noam Chomsky powerfully presents (below)  the case against US and Israeli policy toward Iran. Yet I’m troubled by an aspect of the situation to which Chomsky gives only brief lip-service. Millions of people demonstrated against the stealing of the Iranian election by the fundamentalist mullahs who control the state apparatus in Iran. Thousands of them were either killed, wounded or ended up in the Iranian regime’s prisons where they were tortured or disappeared. Tikkun has called for the people of Iran to overthrow their own government the way the people of the Soviet Union were able to do, but we know that this is not in the cards in the short run, given the brutality of repression and the ferocity of the current regime’s supporters based on their interpretaton of how they are serving Islam. Hey, you at Tikkun always talk about the obligation to care about the well-being of others, and in this case, this shouldn’t be empty words or pious thoughts–a real intervention on the side of the people of Iran who are oppressed is the only hope of overthrowing the cruel regime in power, some will argue.

This same regime talks glibly about destroying Israel and denies the Holocaust. If you were living in Israel, you might cheer-on any path that sought to eliminate the ability of these fundamentalist extremists…

My reply:

Dear Rabbi Lerner,

I generally support your work, sometimes to the point of near-adulation,* but I did notice that in this email, you make statements about Iran that are false and defamatory.

First, there is no evidence whatsoever that the last Iranian presidential election was stolen, and abundant evidence that it was not. All relevant polls, including those taken by organizations opposed to Ahmadinejad, showed Ahmadinejad ahead by margins greater than the landslide he actually won. US exit polls, by contrast, now consistently give Republicans about 5% less than the black-box voting machines report in their “official count” – a bizarre phenomenon that began with the use of the black-box machines, which are all owned by Republicans. Bottom line: Iran is a democracy, while the US is not.

The broad masses of relatively poor people, especially in rural areas and smaller towns, strongly support Ahmadinejad. His opponents do well among the urban upper-middle class. So people whose world is limited to the urban secularist English-speaking upper middle class, such as almost all foreigners, get the false impression that most Iranians don’t like Ahmadinejad.  In fact, he is wildly popular among the Iranian masses, and indeed throughout the Middle East and the non-Euro-American world.

As for Iranian human rights abuses, some of these are very real, but they are a molehill compared to the mountain of millions of bodies of people murdered and tortured and illegally kidnapped by the US and Israeli governments, as Chomsky correctly points out. So if human rights is the issue, we should really be debating about whether Iran should take out US and Israeli nuclear programs, not the reverse. (In fact, Iran IS working harder than any other nation on earth to “take out” all nuclear weapons from the Middle East and from the planet – by peaceful international agreements!)

As for “talking glibly about destroying Israel,” this outrageously defamatory Big Lie was put to bed many years ago, by correct translations of Khomeini’s (NOT Ahmadinejad’s) famous line, which is supported by virtually all Middle Eastern people except Israeli Jews:

“The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the sands of time.”

This slogan refers to Iran’s official peace plan for Occupied Palestine: A peaceful, democratic election in which all rightful citizens of that territory, including the ethnically-cleansed goyim, would vote on whether they want a one-state or two-state solution.  No reasonable person could object to this proposal.

Additionally, the Iranian government does not “deny the holocaust.” In fact, the famous holocaust conference in Iran was a holocaust-affirmation conference, not a holocaust-denial conference, since over 90% of participants did not even question the official Western version of the Nazi holocaust, much less deny it. The presence of a few holocaust revisionists, who constituted less than 10% of the participants, should not be surprising, since outside of Europe and the US, very few intellectuals accept all of the details of the Western version of the Nazi holocaust. While in Morocco on a Fulbright, for example, I did not meet a single colleague who believed that six million Jews died in the holocaust, or that millions died in gas chambers; the common view was that these alleged facts are very much in dispute. It should not be shocking that this view, the majority view in much of the world, would be present, if only in a minor way, at the holocaust conference in Tehran.

By systematically falsifying facts you present to your readers in order to defame Iran, you are doing everyone a disservice, and inadvertently contributing to the possibility of a disastrous war. An apology and correction, sent to your entire list, is in order.


Kevin Barrett

PS If you’d be willing to discuss these issues on my radio show, MWF 1-2 pm Pacific slots are open starting Sept. 21st.

*Why I like Rabbi Lerner

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