Western Media Places Burden On Iran To Prove Seriousness In Nuclear Negotiations – OpEd

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To enter into the world of the Iran-P5+1 nuclear negotiation is like scurrying down a rabbit hole and finding that words mean precisely what Iran’s enemies wish them to mean–nothing more or less. In other words, before the talks began the NYT’s Steven Erlanger could write that western intelligence was attempting to parse the “dense fog” of Ayatollah Khamenei’s utterances on the nuclear question. Meaning, of course that Barack Obama and Bibi Netanyahu have consistently been crystal clear in their every statement on the subject.

The fact that a subsequent second meeting has been scheduled for May means, again according to Erlanger’s anti-Iran perspective, that Iran passed a test that it engaged “seriously” in the first meeting:

A senior American official at the talks emphasized that this meeting was about testing Iran’s seriousness.

Not a hint of the possibility that it is Israel and the U.S. whose sincerity may be doubted or that they too have something to prove. It is objectionable to paint Iran as the sole bad guy. There is more than enough blame to go around.

I have written here for months, if not years, that as long as the onus is put solely on the Iranians, they are always the ones whose seriousness is doubted, or who have something to prove–talks will fail. Such notions are racist at their heart. For every claim of perfidy or backtracking we can blame Iran, we can find two such examples from Israel and the U.S. The notion that non-western wannabe nuclear states are always the ones who engage in fraud or deceit is offensive and false.

Erlanger even raises a claim offered by that most notorious of references, “some analysts,” who raise the offensive religious claim that Iran would use deliberate lies as an approved part of its Shiite theological tradition during negotiations. Such claims are worthy of Daniel Pipes but not of a serious newspaper. Especially since Erlanger doesn’t even bother to offer a source for this claim.

Israeli leaders and war hawk analysts repetitively warn of Iran’s lying and reneging on such commitments. To hear them tell it, Iran never met a negotiation it didn’t sabotage, and it is the most untrustworthy interlocutor known to the world today. While the motives and actions of the west, of course, are pure as the driven snow.

On a related matter, yesterday the Times reported that Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, who lives in exile and is no friend of the regime, attacked the notion that economic sanctions were either an effective or moral tool in their use to bring Iran to its knees and its senses regarding its nuclear program. She said the only people harmed by this would be the vulnerable common folk, certainly not the leadership.

This article appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board.

Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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