is an Iranian journalist, author, polyglot, and contributing columnist and correspondant for numerous publications worldwide, including the Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, the UK and the US. At the age of 14, he was selected as the world's youngest journalist by International Federation of Journalists and, in 2010, was honored by Iran's National Organization of Youths for his outstanding contributions and achievements in the field of "Media Activities."
Ziabari has conducted interviews with politicians, Nobel laureates, journalists, authors, among them political commentator and linguist Noam Chomsky, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, former U.S. National Security Council advisor Peter D. Feaver, German political prisoner Ernst Zündel, Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, American author Stephen Kinzer, journalist Eric Margolis, former assistant of the U.S. Department of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, American-Palestinian journalist Ramzy Baroud, American international relations scholar Stephen Zunes, American singer/songwriter David Rovics, American political scientist and anthropologist William Beeman, British journalist Andy Worthington, Australian author and blogger Antony Loewenstein, Iranian geopolitics expert Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh, Lebanese scholar and researcher Gilbert Achcar, American historian Michael A. Hoffman II and Israeli musician and political commentator Gilad Atzmon.
I am thrilled and honored to have now been added to that list.
Below is the complete text of my recent interview with Ziabari during which we discussed a variety of issues including Israeli-American relations, Iran's nuclear program, recent Arab uprisings, and the death of Osama Bin Laden.
***** ***** *****Kourosh Ziabari: As you have pointed out in your articles, over the past decade Israel has been continuously threatening Iran with preemptive military strikes. War threats have been an inseparable part of the U.S.-backed, Zionist-run propaganda project against Iran. The question which I want to raise is that, from a legal point of view, shouldn't incessant war threats by a fake political entity against a sovereign nation be followed by the decisive action of the international organizations, such as the United Nations Security Council? Why doesn't this aggressive fear-mongering have any punitive consequence for the Israeli regime?Nima Shirazi:
Considering no amount of actual Israeli aggression, whether in the form of ethnically cleansing East Jerusalem, shooting unarmed Palestinian protesters in the occupied West Bank, dropping bombs and white phosphorous on a besieged civilian population in Gaza, or murdering Turkish peace activists in international waters, is met with anything but unconditional support by Western powers, it's hardly surprising that Israel has been getting away with threatening a military attack on Iran for decades now. While it is true that both "the threat or use of force" is forbidden by the United Nations Charter, and therefore a breach of international law, it has long been clear that Israel is immune to such scrutiny as its ongoing violence is repeatedly justified, endorsed, and funded by the United States.
One of the primary reasons for this impunity is the successful promotion of Zionist mythologies in American political discourse. These mythologies, which go unquestioned and are often repeated by both Israeli and U.S. officials, serve to cast Israel - a heavily militarized, nuclear-armed hegemon - in the role of perpetual victim, always on the defensive. The result is emotional blackmail on an international level. This perennial victimhood completely inverts cause and effect. As a result, the oppressed becomes the oppressor, the culprit becomes the victim, occupation is security, illegal colonization is cultural liberation, aggressive expansion is righteous reclamation, genocide is self-defense, apartheid is justice, resistance is terrorism, and ethnic cleansing is peace.
The fear-mongering over a phantom Iranian nuclear bomb (a manufactured specter of death and destruction promoted by the U.S. and Israel for the past three decades) is invariably coupled with allusions to the Holocaust in which the Islamic Republic of Iran is the new Nazi Germany, Ahmadinejad is Hitler, Israel's very existence is threatened, and Jews worldwide face imminent extinction. As an Israeli Iran expert once explained to Trita Parsi, "You have to recognize that we Israelis need an existential threat. It is part of the way we view the world. If we can ﬁnd more than one, that would be preferable, but we will settle for one."
The consequence of such dishonest and dangerous analogies is clear, as Peter Beinart pointed out last year in The New York Review of Books
, "In the world of AIPAC, the Holocaust analogies never stop, and their message is always the same: Jews are licensed by their victimhood to worry only about themselves."
Recent comments by both Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu are both illustrative and instructive. Obama, speaking the other day at the 2011 AIPAC Conference, managed to weave a string of Zionist talking points together in one dazzling sentence: "When I went to Sderot and saw the daily struggle to survive in the eyes of an eight-year-old boy who lost his leg to a Hamas rocket, and when I walked among the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem, I was reminded of the existential fear of Israelis when a modern dictator seeks nuclear weapons and threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map -- face of the Earth."
Naturally, there is no mention or acknowledgement of the daily terror experienced by Palestinian children in Gaza who are subject to, not only deliberate sonic booms and collective punishment, but also U.S.-supplied Israeli fighter jets, attack helicopters, unmanned aerial drones, missiles, bombshells, bullets, and chemical, banned, and experimental weaponry. Needless to say, terming Ahmadinejad a "dictator" demonstrates a distinct lack of understanding about the Iranian political system. There is absolutely no evidence Iran is seeking nuclear weapons (Obama's own intelligence apparatus has consistently confirmed this) and the absurd "wipe Israel off the face of the map" quote has long been debunked. For the American president to repeat all these lies - in one sentence, no less - demonstrates the power and pervasiveness of Zionist mythology.
Netanyahu used a nearly identical formulation is his recent speech to a special joint session of Congress. "As for Israel, if history has taught the Jewish people anything, it is that we must take calls for our destruction seriously," he declared. "We are a nation that rose from the ashes of the Holocaust. When we say never again, we mean never again. Israel always reserves the right to defend itself."
Netanyahu's turn of phrase is ironic considering the title of former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg's 2008 book, "The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes," in which Burg exposes the purpose of playing the victim. "Victimhood sets you free," he wrote. Over thirty years ago, in 1980, Israeli journalist Boaz Evron put it another way: "If we assume the world hates us and persecutes us, we feel exempted from the need to be accountable for our actions towards it."
The United States, which wields unparalleled power over international institutions such as the UN Security Council, has long dedicated itself to promoting this narrative and protecting its partner-in-war crimes Israel from any diplomatic or political scrutiny.KZ: In your recent article, you referred to the remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who said in an interview with Charlie Rose that Iran does have the courage to announce its intention to build nuclear bombs if it ever has one. My question is that, are the United States and its European allies, really unaware of the fact that Iran does not have nuclear weapons and doesn't intend to build them? It's quite inconceivable that with its sophisticated intelligence structure, the United States hasn't really come to the point that Iran doesn't have nuclear bombs nor does it intend to make one. Is it all about black propaganda and fear-mongering to discredit Iran and derail its status as a regional superpower or a simple lack of sufficient information?NS:
Despite all the war-mongering rhetoric, the United States government is well aware that Iran's nuclear energy program remains peaceful and fully monitored by the IAEA. Its own intelligence agencies have consistently reaffirmed the non-military nature of the program, from the recently updated National Intelligence Estimate to its Annual Threat Assessments, and maintains that Iran's military strategy is purely defensive, not aggressive.
Iran is one of the only nations in the world that refuses to back down from its own inalienable rights in the face of Western, namely U.S., pressure. While Obama often declares his solidarity with the Iranian people (which he sees as unsupportive of its own government - another fallacy based mostly on Western wishful thinking), he ignores that, according to a recent RAND Corporation survey, 87% of Iranians strongly favor the "Iranian development of nuclear energy for civilian use," while a whopping 98% believe that the "possession of nuclear energy is a national right." By insisting that Iran relinquish its rights (as affirmed by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran has been a signatory for over four decades), Obama reveals himself as a hypocrite and a bully.KZ: The United States is apparently clinging to double standards when it comes to Israel's nuclear program. Almost everyone knows that the Israeli regime is the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. It does possess up to 200 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, and none of the international organizations, including IAEA have ever dared to question or investigate this dangerous arsenal. Once in an interview with me, the Antiwar.com writer Joshua Frank said that the "United States doesn't have to justify its double standards to anyone," because of the arrogant nature of its statesmen and the complicated structure of what Hamid Golpira calls its "corporatocracy." What's your viewpoint in this regard?NS:
The duplicity of both the United States and Israel when it comes to the nuclear issue is astounding. During his recent speech to Congress, Israel Prime Minster Netanyahu actually suggested with a serious face that "a nuclear-armed Iran would ignite a nuclear arms race in the Middle East," as if his own country - with its own massive nuclear stockpile - either didn't exist or wasn't in the Middle East.
It is both official Israeli and U.S. policy that Israel's nuclear arsenal goes unacknowledged. This policy was established between President Richard Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969. A declassified memo from Nixon's national security adviser Henry Kissinger, dated July 19, 1969, notes, "While we might ideally like to halt actual Israeli possession, what we really want at a minimum may be just to keep Israeli possession from becoming an established international fact." Accordingly, Nixon formally suspended all inspection of Israel's Dimona nuclear plant in 1970 and ceased demands that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The next year, the Nixon administration sold Israel hundreds of krytons, a type of high-speed switch necessary for the development of nuclear warheads.
When Obama first met with Netanyahu in May 2009, he confirmed the continuity of the secret agreement, a stance one Senate staffer reportedly described as "call[ing] into question virtually every part of the president's nonproliferation agenda" and which was tantamount to giving "Israel an NPT treaty get out of jail free card."
Israeli nuclear expert Avner Cohen has described the denial policy as the equivalent of "don’t ask, don’t tell." Yet, when officials are occasionally asked, the policy invariably becomes "don't tell, then quickly change the subject to the manufactured Iranian threat."
In recent years, there have been efforts by NPT members to pressure the IAEA to investigate and inspect Israel's nuclear arsenal. These actions have all been opposed by Western states, led by the U.S. Last year, all 189 member nations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (including both the United States and Iran) agreed to "the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction." Unsurprisingly, Israel denounced the accord, describing it as "deeply flawed and hypocritical" and declared, "As a nonsignatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation."
In June 2010, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano asked all member states to submit their review to support the implementation of a 2009 IAEA resolution which expressed "concern about the Israeli nuclear capabilities, and calls upon Israel to accede to the NPT and place all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards." In response, Obama reaffirmed his administration's commitment to double standards when it comes to Israel during a meeting with Netanyahu. After decrying efforts to supposedly "single out" Israel, Obama proceeded to do just that, claiming that, of all countries in the world, "Israel has unique security requirements." He then vowed that, with regards to any international efforts towards weapons control and decommissioning nuclear weapons, the "United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests" and promised to maintain Israel's "qualitative military edge" in the region. In September 2010, after intense U.S. lobbying on behalf of Israel, IAEA members narrowly rejected the resolution with a vote of 51 against, 46 for, and 23 abstentions. The hypocrisy continues.