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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 1, 2007 / 15 Sivan, 5767

The Invisible Crisis: What if Iran took hostages and no one noticed?

By Michael Ledeen

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Rarely have so many journalists, politicians and commentators so totally missed a headline. There are now five American hostages in Iran. Each case has been largely treated by itself, almost as if it were an oddity, something requiring a special explanation, instead of another piece in a luminously clear pattern whose meaning should be intuitively obvious to us all.

The five American hostages are:

  • Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington and the wife of the distinguished historian Shaul Bakash;

  • Parnaz Azima, a journalist for radio Farda, the Farsi-language component of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty;

  • Ali Shakeri, a founding board member at the University of California, Irvine’s Center for Citizen Peacebuilding;

  • Kian Tajbakhsh, a consultant working for George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

  • Robert A. Levinson, a former FBI officer reportedly investigating tobacco smuggling on behalf of a private client. He disappeared after he flew to Iran’s Kish Island in March.


The two women — Esfandiari and Azima — were regular visitors to Iran, and both were visiting their mothers at the time of their arrests.

Iranian and Iranian-supported terrorists have been trying unsuccessfully to capture Americans in Iraq for some time (a hostage-taking operation failed last September, for example), but they found that the Americans fought back. They have now snatched unarmed Americans within Iranian borders. Several of them have been charged with espionage. Esfandiari has been accused of an additional crime: being married to a Jew. In the words of a website closely tied to President Ahmadinejad, Esfandiari is “married to Shaul Bakhash, a Jew, (and) is one of the leading figures in the international Zionist lobby planning the overthrow of the Iranian regime, including the Zionist regime’s plans to attack Iran.”

Actually, Esfandiari is one of the leading figures in the intellectual/scholarly opposition to the Bush administration, Azima works for an organization that has been a feckless voice of confusion and a frequent critic of American policy in the Middle East, and Tajbakhsh and Shakeri are advocates of dialogue with Iran. I don’t know anything about Levinson’s politics or religion.

Not that the actual views of the hostages have anything to do with their plight; they are hostages simply because they are Americans.

The Americans were taken hostage for the same reasons the regime has routinely taken foreign hostages from the first year of its existence: to resolve internal power struggles, to demonstrate to the Iranian people the hopelessness of their condition by directly challenging the infidels to do anything about the humiliation of their countrymen, and to impose their will on a Western world the mullahs view as feckless and paralyzed. When the American embassy was overrun in the fall of 1979, Khomeini famously proclaimed that the Americans “can’t do a thing,” and today the regime is trying to show that neither the Americans nor the Brits (five more of whom were taken hostage in the past couple of days) can do anything to challenge the mullahcracy.

Political Civil War
The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suffers from inoperable cancer and has already outlived his doctors’ prognosis. The political war over his successor has been raging for several months between partisans of the country’s two most prominent political figures: Ahmadinejad and former president Hashemi Rafsanjani. Two months ago Rafsanjani went to Qom, the city of the grand ayatollahs, in an attempt to gain the support of the leading clerics, at which time he tried to convince them to name a successor even before the Supreme Leader’s demise. Nothing came of it, nor did anything come of the much-ballyhooed efforts to “impeach” Ahmadinejad or shorten his term. The latest dustup came over the talks with the Americans in Baghdad, which were violently condemned by Ahmadinejad’s followers.

The wave of hostage-taking undoubtedly plays a role in this political war, for it demonstrates the great strength of the hardliners around Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, and weakens Rafsanjani’s standing with the clerical elite.



Message to the Iranian People
Two of the American hostages — Esfandiari and Tajbakhsh — have been charged with attempting to subvert the Islamic Republic and organize a “soft revolution” against the regime. At the same time, the mullahs have launched a new wave of political repression against students, teachers, women, intellectuals and, most recently, scientists. The information ministry, a.k.a. the secret intelligence service, recently declared that any Iranian who attended overseas conferences would automatically fall under suspicion of cooperating with foreign-espionage operations. All these measures are symptomatic of a regime that knows it is hated by most Iranians, and fears a popular uprising.

It is a basic tenet of the Iranians’ worldview that nothing of great significance will occur in the world without American support, which in practice means they are unlikely to launch a revolution until and unless they see signs of such support. It also means that the mullahs constantly seek to demonstrate that America is impotent, thus hoping to discourage potential challenges from below. What better way than to take American (and British) hostages, and show that the United States (and Her Majesty’s government) are powerless to do anything about it?

War Against the Infidels
Finally, there is the ongoing war against America, which has been waged from Tehran since 1979, and which the mullahs firmly believe they are winning. They are supremely confident that the United States will be driven out of Iraq — largely by terrorists armed, funded, trained, and guided by Tehran — by the end of Bush’s tenure. They are similarly optimistic about Afghanistan, where the Karzai government and NATO military officers are increasingly outspoken about Iran’s role in arming both the Taliban and terrorists associated with Gulbadin Hekmatyar. As Amir Taheri has recently pointed out, the Iranian hand is manifest in lethal activities from Afghanistan to Lebanon, Iraq, and Gaza. The capture of American hostages is an integral part of that strategy, aiming blow after blow against the perceived tottering giant whose fall will open the floodgates of jihad against the infidel West.

The mullahs believe that their aggression is divinely sanctioned, that the violence they are unleashing on the region will hasten the return of the 12th Imam, and thus the days of the final judgment of all mankind. Such people cannot be reasoned out of their mission, whatever the utopians at the Department of State may believe.

Messianic movements of the sort led by the Islamic Republic can inspire masses of people, but they are uniquely vulnerable, because any dramatic setback raises a frightening question: Has divine support suddenly been removed? It follows that we should strain to defeat them, primarily by supporting their own gravediggers, the people of Iran.

Alas, not even that celebrated warmonger, George W. Bush, has the will to support democratic revolution in Iran, or even to say the simple words “we want regime change in Tehran.” His secretary of State insists that we do not want regime change, but only a change in the behavior of the regime. Which is rather like saying that the best way to fight evil is by reading the Psalms. Instead of vigorously defending the Americans outrageously arrested and incarcerated in Iran, we opened a new round of negotiations with their captors, and the killers of our troops in Iraq, on Memorial Day. Yes, there are American warships in the Gulf, but no one in his right mind expects them to do anything other than show the flag.

But then, nobody even seems to have noticed the existence of a hostage crisis. Why would anyone expect the American government to do anything about it?

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.

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