Interview with Dr.Aarts
Washington Prism- Farid Pouya
Paul Aarts is a lecturer in International Relations at the Department of Political Science (University of Amsterdam). He is the co-editor of ZemZem, a journal on Islam, the Middle East and North Africa.
For educational purposes he cooperates with the School of International Relations in Tehran, Iran (an annual exchange programme). We interviewed him at the end of December, a few days after he and his Dutch students came back from Iran.
Washington Prism: In your opinion, what are the reasons for Mr.Ahmadinejad’s tough words on Israel? Has Iran entered into a new phase that we can term as anti-Semitic?
Paul Aarts: I think we cannot yet consider Ahmadinejad’s comments to be anti-Semitic, although it has come close to that. But the reason for his comments at this particular juncture is probably that the President has been under attack from both the reformists and, most importantly, from the conservative faction that we can call political or former political friends. One way to counter-attack is to throw in the Israel card. If, in Iran, you play that card, nobody can attack you on it. Ahmadinejad tries to attract support from the population at large and also from people in the establishment who have become his allies as a result of these remarks.