Hassan Rouhani Opens the Door to Peace With Iran — Israel’s Netanyahu Slams It Shut


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is so blinded by his contempt for Iran that he ignores the prime tenant of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Jewish High Holy Days. The ten days between the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement are meant to reflect on the past year, identify what was done right, and what you can change in the new year. Asking for and giving forgiveness are critical.

This past Wednesday night, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted New Year wishes to Jews around the world. These tweets have not been formally verified, but several media outlets have reported them and the prime minister’s office has not denied them. Respected CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour posted on Facebook and Twitter that she has spoken to Zarif and he has confirmed the tweets. Netanyahu's response; "Not impressed" and that their "... only purpose is to distract attention from the fact that even after the elections it continues to enrich uranium and build a plutonium reactor with the aim of acquiring a nuclear weapon which will threaten Israel and the whole world."

The reports go beyond simple New Year wishes. As reported in Haaretz, Raz Zimmt, a research fellow at the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University stated that while Iran has always differentiated between Judaism and Zionism, these greetings represent a clear change in terminology and the opening of a new openness from the Rouhani government. On his twitter posting, Zarif further enhanced this view by saying Iran never denied the Holocaust and that the man who was perceived to deny it is gone.

The Iranian president will address the United Nations later this month. My thought is that he will continue this theme of opening a new era in relations with the West, unlike his predecessor, who used U.N. appearances to incite discord.

Benjamin Netanyahu will allow his stubbornness to blind him to the opportunity being presented. In the spirit of the High Holy Days, he should open his eyes.