“The Iranians Know How to Negotiate; They Can Run Circles Around Us” – Chemi Shalev interviews Malcolm Hoenlein (Ha’aretz)
Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the umbrella body of organized American Jewry, described the Iranians in an interview:
“These guys have been ‘bazaaris’ [bazaar merchants] for 2,000 years, while we come in as novices. They can run circles around us. They know how to negotiate and how to manipulate every situation.”
Q: Why don’t you believe Rouhani when he says that Iran has no intention of building a bomb?
Hoenlein: “Because they lie. They will tell you that they’re not involved in terrorism, even though we have so much evidence. It’s not just Lebanon or Hamas – go to the Balkans, travel in the Baltics, go to the Arab countries in the Gulf, go to Asian countries, every one of them will talk to you about Iran’s involvement. The first issue most African leaders raise with you is Iran’s nefarious activities in Africa. Go to Sarajevo: They [the Iranians] have 450 people in their embassy there. It’s their base of operations.”
Hoenlein, who maintains close contacts with some Arab leaders, says: “I heard from their leaders myself: Israel is our only hope against the enemy. We will condemn them, but we pray for them.”
The same holds true when it comes to Arab opinion regarding Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: “They are much more critical of Abbas than anything you can hear in Israel. These guys are crooks, they say. They stole our money, we gave them hundreds of millions of dollars, and it’s all gone. They’re sick and tired of the Palestinians. You don’t hear them raise the issue at all anymore.”
Regarding the impasse in the peace process, he said: “Ten negotiations, 10 times the Jews said yes – why isn’t the onus on the other side? If the same pressure that is applied on Israel had been applied to Abbas, or on Arafat at a critical moment, you would have had a deal already.”