US President Obama has made many headlines with the strident style he has taken in his efforts to promote the Iran deal. Some critics say he is flirting with anti-Semitic innuendos, others cite his personal attacks against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and others say he has falsely accused opponents of the deal of having no concrete objections to the deal other than politics.
An article by Ryan Mauro of The Clarion Project focuses on yet another aspect: Obama's characterization of anti-American Iranian elements as being opposed to the deal.
Obama spoke last week at American University – the same place where President John F. Kennedy delivered perhaps his most famous speech, outlining a plan to curb nuclear arms (!) – and compared Iranian anti-American elements with Republicans.
"Just because Iranian hardliners chant 'Death to America' does not mean that that's what all Iranians believe," Obama said. "In fact, it's those hardliners … chanting 'Death to America' who've been most opposed to the deal. They're making common cause with the Republican Caucus."
Mauro points out that it is precisely many Iranian supporters of the deal who chant "Death to America." He brings several examples of Iranian moderates, that is, supporters of the nuclear deal, who favor this position.
For instance, the President of Iran himself, Hassan Rouhani, who is clearly a supporter of the nuclear deal, said in May 2013, "Saying ‘Death to America’ is easy. We need to express ‘Death to America’ with action."
Clearly, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei supports the deal – and he said, just after it was signed, "Our policies toward the arrogant government of the United States will not be changed at all." What are those policies, in his opinion? In March of this year, he said, "Of course, yes, Death to America."
Former Iranian President Rafsanjani, considered a moderate and a supporter of the nuclear deal, had this to say about Israel and Islam, in 2001: "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel…"
The Clarion Project's motto is "Challenging Extremism, Promoting Dialogue." To this end, Mauro concludes: "Democracies require voters and their leaders to have honest— even if heated — dialogue about the issues. The dialogue must include facts and logic from different points-of-view. The entire country suffers when policy is influenced by consciously-crafted falsehoods like the one above and undue accusations of malice and idiocy."