Remarks in an interview with the Qods NEWS Agency (Qodsna) a few days ahead of the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Walberg in the interview reviews the role of the Islamic Revolution in promoting the Palestinian issue.
Qodsna: How do you consider the direct and indirect effects of the Islamic Revolution on the Palestinian issue?
Walberg: The 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution is an appropriate moment to focus on the role that Iran has played and will continue to play in the unending struggle to set up a free Palestinian state. The struggle to free Palestine has been at the top of Iran's international agenda from the first year of the revolution. The government inaugurated al-Quds Day in 1979, and al-Quds Day rallies are now held across the globe, including the Arab and Muslim world, Europe and North America. The popularity of al-Quds Day shows Iran's positive effect as the only country fully committed to helping Palestine.
Iran's revolution inspired the Palestinians in their Intifadas in 1987 and 2000, and helped keep Palestine close to the top of the world's agenda.
The UN has been ineffective in fulfilling its responsibility to create a viable Palestinian state as agreed in 1947, and Arab attempts to gain justice since then have repeatedly been spurned by Israel and the West. The highpoint at the UN was in 1973, when it condemned "the unholy alliance between Portuguese colonialism, Apartheid and Zionism," and then in 1975, when it passed a resolution that stated, "Zionism is a form of racism".
Aparatheid fell in South Africa in 1993, but Zionism continues to promote racism, reversing the UN condemnation of it in 1991. Attempts over the years to expel Israel from the UN for its continued violations of UN resolutions have always been stymied by western powers led by the US.
Some progress has been made more recently, as the world movement against Israeli crimes gains momentum. In 2012, over US-Israeli protest, the UN upgraded Palestine to "non-member observer state" status, described by The Independent as "de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine". As of October 2014, 135 (70%) of the 193 member states of the UN have recognized the State of Palestine as sovereign over both West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Qodsna: How do you see the role of Imam Khomeini in shaping the resistance movements among Palestinian people?
Walberg: Ayatollah Khomeini understood the connection between the struggle to liberate Palestine and the struggle for social justice around the world, in the first place among Muslims. After breaking relations with Israel in 1979, one of the first actions of the new Islamic government was to establish al-Quds Day, to be held at the end of Ramadan each year.
He had a clear analysis of what Zionism portended for Palestine and for disharmony among believers:
"All must know that the superpowers' aim in creating Israel does not end in the occupation of Palestine. They plan, Heaven forbid, to extend the fate of Palestine to all Arab countries. The issue of al-Quds is not a private or personal issue. It is neither the exclusive problem of one country nor a present-day problem of all Muslims. Rather, it is a phenomenon concerning the monotheists and faithful people of all ages – past, present and future."
Qodsna: What is your opinion about the position of the Islamic Revolution towards the global Zionism?
Walberg: The Iranian government has hosted two international conferences critiquing Zionist policies in the Middle East. Both conferences, in 2012 and 2014, were denounced in the western media. I attended the second conference, “New Horizon: the International Conference of Independent Thinkers”. It included over 30 journalists, writers and academics from around the world presenting papers and arguing issues of world geopolitics, with a focus on the Middle East. This gave me a unique opportunity to share experiences with other activists concerned about Palestine. I found no evidence of anti-Semitism as the western press accused. The crimes of Israel are too numerous to need exaggeration. It was gratifying to be part of the public struggle against Zionism, in which Iran is at the forefront.
Qodsna: How did the Islamic Revolution influence the fight against Zionism in the western countries?
Walberg: At the time of the 2014 conference in Tehran, the UN General Assembly was meeting in New York, where British Prime Minister David Cameron attacked Iran for its “support for terrorist organizations, its nuclear program, its treatment of its people”, called it “part of the problem in the Middle East”. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed this charge in his address to the UN, blaming the West and Saudi Arabia for sowing the seeds of extremism in the Middle East with “strategic blunders” that have given rise to the Islamic State and other violent jihadist groups. "Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hands of madmen, who now spare no one.”
The resistance to Zionism continues. Despite its current weakness as a truly international forum, the UN is important, and the Iranian voice at the UN is vital to counter the Zionist propaganda in the West. The current Iranian support of the Syrian and Iraqi governments, now in cooperation with Russia, in the battle with ISIS, is paying off. Western attempts to use both Islamist and secular dissidents to overthrow the Syrian government have come to naught. Their demand that President Assad resign has been dropped.
Iran also works with the Iraqi government to fight ISIS occupation. Cooperation with the US, still present as a military force training the Iraqi army (3,000 troops), makes perfect sense, but faces enduring Iranophobia.
This year has many threats, but also many opportunities. The threats that stand out are:
* Iran wisely refuses both western strategies to realize Zionist policy: the first is the attempt to cow Iran through boycotts; more serious is to try to provoke Iran with insults, and open threats of attack by Israeli and US Zionists. Just avoiding the pitfalls prepared by the Zionists is already a victory. As the world watches this, it becomes clearer who "the problem in the Middle East" is. Thus, the threat posed by these western intrigues is also an opportunity to expose the real warmongers.
* The second threat is the campaign against Iran's right to nuclear energy, which has also become an opportunity through patience. Now that an accord has been reached with the West, there is no excuse for the West not to cooperate with Iran in ending the attempts by ISIS to enforce their own version of a new Middle East, despite its lack of popular support and a reasoned plan.
The Middle East needs rebuilding, based not on war and violence, but on reasoned cooperation. As Iran enters its 38th year as an Islamic state, it patiently continues to support the struggle to bring sanity to the troubled Middle East.