In Tehran the earth is shaking, but in the Arab world there has been no public official response to the post-elections riots. Bernard Lewis, the renowned orientalist, told me on Monday that this is because Arab governments are concerned about backing the wrong horse.
By contrast, debate is lively in the Arab media and on Arab-language Web sites. But there is one exception: the Palestinians seem almost indifferent to what is going on in Iran. This may seem surprising. After all, the Iranian regime is a major supporter of Palestinian hardliners, providing funding, training and weapons, particularly to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both of whom owe their ability to confront Israel to direct Iranian support. But surfing the major Palestinian Web sites at noon today (Tuesday, Tel Aviv time), reveals very little interest in what is happening in the streets of Tehran.
The most prominent Palestinian to have publicly expressed an opinion on the events is a former Israeli Knesset member, Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel and is wanted for questioning for allegedly spying for Hezbollah.
In an op-ed piece earlier this week in Al Jazeera, Bishara concluded that the events in Iran reflect the views of middle-class Iranians, not those of the majority of the population. And to the extent that Iran becomes more westernized, he stated, this process will result from an ideological clash within the regime itself.
Bishara did not say a word about how all of this might affect the Palestinians. Even when his piece was copied to Hamasâ€™s most active forum, Paldf, it did not give rise to a discussion on what the impact on the Palestinians would be.
Perhaps this is because the Palestinians realize that what happens in Iran â€” short of a complete overhaul of the regime, which is highly unlikely â€” is not going to have an effect on the support they receive from the Revolutionary Guards and the Ministry of Intelligence. This is contrary to the view of much the Western media, which sees the events in Iran as a sign of an impending regime change.
The turmoil in Tehran, as far as the Palestinians are concerned, is a dispute between rival political factions; it does not concern them, and it does not interest them.
The Iranian governmental entities in charge of exporting the Islamic revolution will continue to do so under a reformist government just as they do now and just as they did in the past when the reformist Mohammad Khatami was in office. One way or another, the Iranian regime will keep stoking the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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