US, Israel Wish Iranians ‘Happy New Year’

In what is becoming a tradition, the Israeli and US presidents issued messages to the Iranian people for the Persian Nowruz new year. Shimon Peres and Barack Obama also addressed the Persian people as separate from the government in Tehran. “I call on the Iranian people. It is still not too late to change the corrupt regime and return to your glorious Persian heritage,” Peres was quoted as saying in a release from his office. “The Iranian people have a brilliant heritage of culture and values, not bombs and missiles.”

Peres, speaking in an interview with Israel Radio’s Persian language service, blamed the Ayatollah-led government for the poverty that is afflicting Iranians. “When a child wakes up in the morning, anywhere in the world and in Iran as well, he must be allowed to have breakfast,” said Peres. “The Iranian regime is investing all its money in the nuclear project and is abandoning its people to wallow in poverty and hunger.

“Enriched uranium cannot feed the hungry in Iran.”

Obama, in his Nowruz message released on the White House website, tried to highlight similarities between the Iranian and American peoples.

“This holiday comes at a time of continued tension between our two countries,” said Obama. “But as people gather with their families, do good deeds, and welcome a new season, we are also reminded of the common humanity that we share. There is no reason for the United States and Iran to be divided from one another.”

He included mention of the Oscar-winning Iranian film “A Separation,” joint naval work to fight piracy and using the same technologies to communicate with each other.

That last point was Obama’s focus in his message: noting the communications crackdown by the government in Tehran to prevent Iranians from connecting with the outside.

“Because of the actions of the Iranian regime, an electronic curtain has fallen around Iran—a barrier that stops the free flow of information and ideas into the country, and denies the rest of the world the benefit of interacting with the Iranian people, who have so much to offer,” said Obama.

“I want the Iranian people to know that America seeks a dialogue to hear your views and understand your aspirations.”

Obama noted steps taken online by the US government to connect with the Iranian people, including trying to make it easier for US businesses to provide communications software and services “that will make it easier for the Iranian people to use the Internet.”

Peres too pleaded with the Iranian people to link with the international community. “The Iranian people need to raise their voice for an Iranian Iran,” said Peres. “The entire world will help the people raise its voice for the restoration of an Iranian Iran that returns to itself and if not—force will lead to a forceful response. It is in the hands of the Iranian people to prevent an external deterioration.”

Cooperating Militaries

On Monday, the top military officers from the US and Israel also met together to discuss Iran. Israeli Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey also covered Syria.

Dempsey, commenting on his official Facebook page, said the two military officials “spent much of our time today talking about growing concerns with Iran and Syria.”

It was the second face-to-face meeting since January between the two men, when Dempsey visited Israel.

“I’m glad we had the opportunity to discuss issues of importance to our two countries,” said Dempsey. “Regular and candid dialogue is critical as we face common threats and challenges.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, March 20, 2012)