This bizarre episode shows how little political correctness and sympathy for the jihad buys for a Leftist academic when he falls into the clutches of Iran’s Islamic regime. Imagine what they would do to Chomsky himself, despite his decades of faithful service to their cause. To them, he is just a Jew, no matter how Useful an Idiot he has been and still is.
“‘I am not a spy. I am a philosopher.’: 125 days in an Iranian prison,” by Ramin Jahanbegloo, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 3, 2014 (thanks to Anne Crockett):
…I was blindfolded, led by the hand through cold corridors, up and down stairs, past what I assumed were other cells and other barred doors. I was taken into a concrete room and ordered to sit on a hard chair. After what seemed like hours, I heard footsteps behind me. It sounded as if two men had entered. But they said nothing. I held my breath and waited. Eventually a third man came in and sat down behind me. He was the first to talk.
“Oh, very interesting. Mr. Jahanbegloo, the great intellectual, is here,” he said. “What are you doing here in prison?”
“There has been a mistake,” I said immediately.
“No, no, there is no mistake,” he said drily. “You have been brought here because you are accused of a conspiracy against the Iranian state. You are implicated in a barandazinarm.”
I had never heard that term before. The direct translation from Farsi would be a “soft overthrow.” Later I realized that he must have meant a velvet revolution. I asked him, in my confusion, to clarify.
“You know better than I what a soft overthrow is,” he said.
I realized that there would be no rational basis to our discussion. These men were not trained in political theory or in law. Their only skill was the ability to intimidate.
“You see, Mr. Jahanbegloo, we know for a fact for whom you are working. We’ve been through your emails. We have two rooms full of documents, with video clips and writings, newspaper cuttings, and voice recordings on you and all that you have done with your life. It all testifies to your guilt. So you’re better off telling us from the beginning what your role is in this soft overthrow and giving us the details of how your employers instructed you to carry it out.”
“What employers? What are you talking about?”
He exhaled his cigarette smoke slowly, patiently, and I felt it enveloping me from behind like a fog of uncertainty.
“The United States and Israel, of course. Do you think we’re stupid? We know you’ve been meeting with American and Israeli scholars, with politicians, with activists. You’ve done it all out in the open. There are video recordings of your meetings with them, countless articles and books that you’ve collaborated on with them. Shall I go on? You know best what role you’ve played in working with them, and that your intention has been to change the government of the Islamic Republic to better suit their interests.”
My writings talk only about nonviolent change and reform. My interrogators would say that nonviolent reform is the same thing as a velvet revolution, but for me there is a distinction. How could I convince these men that I was innocent; that what they had interpreted as wrongdoing was merely my wish to see my country do better, to treat its citizens with respect and dignity, to show that reform did not necessitate a complete change of government or a swing toward subservience and the foreign domination we had endured in the past? But there was nothing to say. In their eyes, I was already guilty….
I asked for something to read and was told that I was allowed only the Quran and a book of stories on early Islam….
“Why do you have so many Jewish friends, Mr. Jahanbegloo?” my interrogator asked.
“What do you mean? I’ve had many colleagues and acquaintances throughout my years in academe and outside it, and some of them happen to be Jewish.”
“Yes, but too many of them are Jewish,” he said.
“I have no idea what you mean. I don’t see what their religion or ethnicity has to do with it. As I’ve tried to tell you, we are all scholars. Our job is to educate.” I knew what he was going to say next.
“Merely to educate? No, I don’t believe that’s it at all. You claim that you want to educate, but educate whom and for what? Look at this list of your past associates—Isaiah Berlin, George Steiner, Noam Chomsky, and all these others. You think we don’t know who these people are and what they do? They are all dangerous thinkers, and they all have an agenda.”
“If you actually read the writings of those men, you’d know how wrong you are,” I said, immediately regretting it.
“Oh, so you think you have all the knowledge here? You have all the right interpretations and we know nothing? Watch how you speak to me. If you start to get aggressive with us, believe me, it won’t turn out well for you. We have many other methods to employ.”
A dead silence. They hadn’t tortured me physically, but there was nothing to stop them.
“All I was trying to say is that there are different ways of understanding the writings of certain thinkers, and you have chosen to see them in one particular way. If you look at them another way, they may not seem as harmful as you think.”
“Who are you to decide what is harmful or not? Have you not written papers in support of the Zionists?”
“Of course not,” I replied. “What do you mean?”
“Look at this article here, for example, about your visit to Auschwitz. Do you not realize that in writing this article you have criticized the president’s views and given the Zionists credibility?”
Ahmadinejad was and is a Holocaust denier. The paper I had written spelled out the fact that millions of Jews had been killed by the Nazis, and that the death camp at Auschwitz was a center of inhumanity and cruelty.
“But I never refer in any place to the president and his views. I wrote about a place that I visited and saw with my own eyes, and I wrote about my reaction to it.”
“Yes, and in so doing you give ammunition to the Zionists to legitimize their claims and strengthen their grip over those they oppress. Have you ever been to Israel, Mr. Jahanbegloo?” he asked, his tone implying that he already knew the answer.
“I … when I was a child, yes. I couldn’t have been more than five or six years old. I remember only the huge grapefruits on the trees.”
“Well, you’re not a child anymore, so don’t play games with me. Even if you haven’t been back since, you’ve been in contact with Israelis. You’ve supported their regime all your life.”
“That’s not true at all. I also had many Palestinian friends when I was in France. I knew Edward Said. I even organized a conference at the University of Tehran in his honor after his death.”
“Not all Palestinians are true revolutionaries! The ones with whom you’ve been in contact are complicit in the Zionists’ wrongdoing because they don’t confront it with full force. They may as well be on their side.”
“They are different kinds of revolutionaries—” I started to say.
“Enough! No more of these quick answers. You still have not explained why you’ve written these articles about the Holocaust, why you side with the Zionists in all matters, why you insist on seeing them as the victims.”
He was right. I hadn’t given him an adequate account, for I knew he would not understand. How could I explain that my main concern was with inhumanity, how pervasive it is and how preventable, when he was already caught in its vise?…
The driver parked in front of the Revolutionary Court. I was taken to the first floor, where I sat for an hour with my guard waiting for Saeed Mortazavi, prosecutor general of Tehran. When I was escorted into his office, he was talking to his secretary and did not even notice my entrance. He looked shorter than he did in his photos and had a three-day beard and mustache. His glasses made him look even more atrocious than suggested by his nickname, “Butcher of the Press.” Mortazavi gave me a harsh look and said, “Mr. Jahanbegloo, you are accused of spying against the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
“But I have never been connected with any foreign intelligence,” I replied.
“Listen to me carefully,” he said with a snarl. “If you contradict me, you will go on trial and face charges of communicating with a hostile government, and I can easily ask for the death penalty.”
“But I am not a spy. I am a philosopher,” I said.
“That doesn’t interest us. What interests us is what foreign institution you are connected with.”
“And who recognizes you as a philosopher? Americans, Canadians, the French?”
“I … I’ve taught everywhere. But I haven’t done anything except serve people.”
“Is that so? And why do you have Canadian citizenship? This is proof that you are a spy.”
“But many Iranians have dual nationalities,” I said.
“You are not an Iranian; you are an ugly Canadian.”
“But I have lived and worked in this country. I have written books in Persian.”
“Your writings are of no use to us. They do not serve Islam, and they do not serve Iran.”
Mortazavi turned to my interrogator and said, “Take him to the other room and read him all the accusations.”
I was shown a sheet of paper on which there was a long list: spying, working with foreign intelligence, plotting against the security of the Iranian state, preparing a velvet revolution, collaborating with Jewish institutions, writing lies about the Holocaust, and so on.
“Sign this,” he said.
“But I haven’t done any of these things,” I replied.
“Look. If you don’t sign, we have to start the interrogation from scratch. That means that you will stay in prison for a year or two with no contact with the outside world.”…