There’s a lot about John R. Bradley‘s piece on Iran in The Spectator (Forget our misguided friendship with Saudi Arabia: Iran is our natural ally, Sept. 2) that reads like something you’d expect to find in the Guardian.
Whilst Bradley’s broad argument, that Saudi sponsored Wahhabism is a greater threat to the West than Shia, is at least debatable, parts of his op-ed seem like an outright defense of the Islamist regime. For instance, he describes the US “singl[ing] out Iran and its Shia proxies as the instigators of terrorism and sectarian bloodshed” in the Middle East as “bizarre” and mocks what he characterises as America’s “borderline-insane obsession with the supposedly existential threat posed by Iran to Israel”. However, he fails to explain why the US assessment of Iran’s sponsorship of terror throughout the world is misguided, or why Israeli fears of Tehran’s repeated threats to annihilate their country are unfounded.
Bradley also strangely suggests that Iran is more decent than Saudi Arabia merely because their antisemitic rhetoric usually employs the euphemism “Zionist” instead of the word “Jew”, and describes the “military sacrifices of Iran and its Shia ally, Hezbollah” in Syria as, yes, “heroic”!
However, it’s when he attempts to explain the reason why Americans “never hear” the Iranian side of the story that he descends into a conspiratorial trope.
One reason is that almost all the ‘experts’ on the region, who contribute countless op-eds to US newspapers, brief US intelligence officials and appear as pundits on TV, work for think-tanks funded by the Arab monarchies or Israel.
Bradley’s hypothesis not only fails to acknowledge that most regional “experts” were actually part of a media “echo chamber” that supported the Iran Deal (which Israel vehemently opposed), and ignores the role of pro-Iranian lobbying in Congress, but, most shamefully, suggests – naturally, without citing a source – that the US debate over Iran is significantly manipulated by Israeli money.
The charge that Israel or Jews exercise a dangerous degree of control over US foreign policy or public opinion is sadly common within leftist discourse on the Middle East, and the fact that such a toxic calumny has been published in a right-wing publication is another indication of the lure of such antisemitic logic among otherwise sober minds of all political persuasions.