What a great day it is! Iran has surrendered! They are going to forsake their efforts to build a nuclear bomb! Oh, what joy. Those of us in Israel will no longer need to fear the radical Islamic state.
We doubted President Obama, but six years after this Rodney King speech (“Can’t we all just get along?”) in Cairo, a fanatical Islamic regime is coming back to reality.
Or are they? The vibe over President Obama’s 17-minute phone call with new Iranian President Rouhani is euphoric. After more than 30 years of the silent treatment, an Iranian president and a U.S. president spoke (and without calling each other Satan). Of course, this was after Rouhani refused to dine with Obama or even meet with him over snacks.
Rumor has it that Obama slipped a note to a classmate that said, “Will you answer the phone if I call? Check yes or no.” Only after assurances that Rouhani would indeed chat did the president make the call.
The big question is, Can this new openness be trusted? While on the one hand Rouhani told CNN that the Holocaust was “reprehensible and condemnable” (something that Iran now denies that he said—even though he said it), on the other hand he added he would leave it to the historians to judge the dimensions of the Holocausts. Newsflash: They have!
Nevertheless, face-to-face (or ear-to-ear) contact between the two countries cannot be ignored. This is unprecedented in recent history. And yet it seems all too familiar. Bob and weave—or maybe rope-a-dope is a better analogy. Let your opponent think they are winning just before you attack.
How many times has Iran, in the throes of sanctions, pretended to be willing to compromise? During the Bush administration, North Korea played the same game, declaring in 2005 to abandon all its nuclear undertakings and rejoin the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. A year later, North Korea tested its nuclear bomb!
Sanctions are hurting the Iranian public. Their currency continues to lose value. Why not play games with the West to see if sanctions can be reduced? Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn’t seem to be falling for the ruse.
“I wish I could be moved by Rouhani’s invitation to join his wave, a world against violence and extremism, but the only waves that Iran has generated in the last 30 years are waves of violence and terrorism that it has unleashed in the region and across the world,” Netanyahu says. “I wish I could believe Rouhani, but I don’t.”
He goes on to say Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolves’ clothing but that Rouhani is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
While the world is duped into thinking that Iran has elected a moderate, let’s not forget that next to the Holocaust-denying Ahmadinejad, Satan looks like a moderate. Netanyahu explains, “[Rouhani] was one of only six candidates the regime permitted to run for office … nearly 700 other candidates were rejected.”
The Israeli prime minister also pointed out that Iran is building intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that in a few years could reach NYC.
“And why would a country with a peaceful nuclear program develop [ICBMs], whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads?” Netanyahu quips. “You don’t build ICBMs to carry TNT thousands of miles away; you build them for one purpose: to carry nuclear warheads.”
And lastly, let’s not forget that the Iranian president is not in charge. The supreme leader of Iran is not an elected position. There have only been two ayatollahs since the 1979 revolution, and the first one kidnapped 52 American diplomats for 444 days.
Having said all that, who knows? Maybe Iran has come to its senses. It would sure be nice to live in Israel not so far from a peace-loving Iran. But don’t hold your breath (unless you’re the ayatollah—in that case, feel free).
The Bible teaches that a collection of countries, including Persia (Iran) will attack Israel in the last days. Fortunately, the Lord will protect Israel from them. In the meantime, let’s not forget the people of Iran, who hate being under a dictatorship and secret police. And let’s keep praying for the release of U.S. pastor Saeed Abedini, who is jailed in an Iranian prison for his faith.
Ron Cantor is the director of Messiah’s Mandate International in Israel, a Messianic ministry dedicated to taking the message of Jesus from Israel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Cantor also travels internationally teaching on the Jewish roots of the New Testament. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua, a Hebrew-speaking congregation in Tel Aviv. His newest book, Identity Theft, was released April 16. Follow him at @RonSCantor on Twitter.