EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Diplomats who served in Tehran frequently claim that Israel and the Palestinians are marginal to Iranian concerns. They are correct about the Iranian public and wrong about the leadership. Maybe this and other formidable gaps between the Iranian public and the leadership could provide the fuel to ignite the opposition to remove them from power.
Three years ago, the then Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had also served as ambassador to Iran, told members of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies something they had heard from other foreign diplomats. “You Israelis are obsessed with Iran,” he said. “For Iranians, you and the Palestinians are a marginal concern.”
The Polish minister was right about the average person-in-the-street in Iran, but he was wrong about the leadership. Their divergence of interest regarding Israel and the Palestinians is but one element in the disconnect between the Iranian leadership and the Iranian public – a disconnect that may explain why Iranians took to the streets to protest the ayatollahs.