While many are hailing today’s phone call between President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a significant move toward a diplomatic resolution to disputes between the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Washington Post’s Max Fisher sees a faltering step in Iranian leader’s conciliatory moves toward Jews.
Getting it right matters, Fisher says, because Rouhani needs not only to convince the US of his sincerity, but also and perhaps primarily, Israel.
And Israel has good reason for skepticism, Fisher argues. While Rouhani’s surprise Rosh Hashana tweet was reportedly genuine, his comments this week on the Holocaust (“I am not a historian”), while far from the denial claims of his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, didn’t step entirely clear of the revisionist path either.
Rouhani’s way forward is made still narrower by hardliners at home who perceive any friendly gestures to the Jews or the West as capitulation. Fisher deftly points out that while the hard-line Fars News Agency claimed CNN fabricated Rouhani’s quotes on the Holocaust only a month ago the same media was misquoting the president as calling for Israel’s destruction.
As others focus on where Rouhani’s headed, Fisher does a good job of reminding us of the obstacle course he’s running.