Iranians want peace and prosperity—it’s just this regime (now 33 years old) that stands in the way.
In the high-stakes international discussions surrounding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, Iran’s 80 million people are often forgotten. So I, along with a small team of Israelis, decided to explore the driving forces of Iranian society. There have been signs, on the streets and over the Internet, of a battle raging between the country’s Islamic fundamentalists and the proponents of freedom. The question we set out to explore is where the majority of the people stand.
Soon we were joined by leading experts in the fields of social psychology, cross-cultural research, the Shiite Muslim religion, statistics, and dozens of Farsi-speaking volunteers.
Circumventing Iran’s “electronic curtain”—as President Obama described the Iranian government’s efforts to control contact with the outside world—our research team conducted telephone interviews in late 2011 and earlier this year with nearly a thousand Iranians. The latter constituted an accurate representative sample of Iranian society, including all of Iran’s 31 provinces as well as a representative distribution of all ethnic groups, ages and levels of education. The interviews were conducted anonymously and the country the calls came from was concealed in order to ensure the safety of the respondents.
An analysis of the Iranian sample showed that alongside conservative values, such as conformity and tradition, Iranian society is characterized by strong support for pro-liberal values such as a belief in the importance of self-direction and benevolence. For example, 94% of the respondents identified with the sentence “freedom to choose what he does is important to him,” and 71% of the respondents identified with the sentence “being tolerant toward all kinds of people and groups is important to him.”
Israel could not be reached for comment.
Actually, it could:
Iran upheld on a death sentence against a man convicted for assassinating a nuclear physicist two year ago, and 13 others may face the same fate after having been found guilty on Sunday for working for the Israeli Mossad spy agency.
The Tehran prosecutor said on Sunday that Majid Jamali Fashi, convicted for assassinating nuclear physicist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, will be executed as planned, the Tehran Times reported. The death sentence reportedly will be carried out on Tuesday.
We would all love to see Iran transition to representative democracy. It’s just that Israel (recently likened to a “mosquito” by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) doesn’t have all the time in the world to wait.
Our findings demonstrate that Iranian society as a whole is characterized by a pro-liberal value structure that is deeply at odds with the fundamentalist regime. This presents considerable potential for regime change in Iran and for the development of liberal democracy.
We know there are at least a few Iranians who fit the ACLU, Coexist, Dissent-is-the-highest-form-of-patriotism model—or were. I don’t know how many survived the purges after the last round of protests. There’s an old football saying: you are who you are. Your record, your level of play—results matter. After almost two generations of ayatollahs, isn’t Iran what it is? Why should we assume otherwise?
PS: Is “mosquito” an improvement over “black and filthy microbe”? And “cancer cell”? Is this an attempt at reconciliation, or does he still believe Israel should be “wiped off the map”?