Ronen Bergman is one of Israel's leading investigative journalists. The senior security and intelligence correspondent and analyst for Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and an anchor on a leading Israeli television news program, he is the author of three bestselling books published in Israel. He was awarded a PhD by Cambridge University for his dissertation about the Israeli Mossad.
Question: Does Khomeini’s philosophy remain influential?Ronen Bergman: When he came to power, basically what he said is that we are going to abolish all secular law and implement the Sharia. The religious law is the law of the land.
Now, can you run a country in the 21st century with laws that were written at the 7th century? It doesn’t work. According to Islam, you cannot have an interest rate in your bank system. So, he basically forbid all interest rates and destroyed the banking system. He destroyed the economy.
Iran has so much oil; needs to import 60% of its gas because their refineries are destroyed.
This revolution of Khomeini promised to bring better life. Now, leave the nuclear issue, leave terrorism, leave the export of revolution, just focus on life, and this revolution brought nothing but misery.
They forbid the use of condoms, and when they came to power there were 38 million Iranians. Today, 69 and a half. It’s imminent. Less condoms, more Iranians.
The revolution failed, but this regime was very, very smart with understanding that if they are going to continue to be very strict with religious law, at the end, the bitterness of the people would do to them what they did to the Shah, to the king that they toppled.
So, basically, not publicly, they gave up most of their religious laws. You can have condoms today and there are interest rates, Western music, internet, satellite television, even some freedom to the press, to release pressure, to give a sort of a democracy or pluralism to the people while maintaining strong control over the list of candidates to the parliament of presidency and all intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies.
These people might come across as very bizarre sometimes, like Ahmadinejad. They are very smart. They kept in power for the last 30 years in spite of all obstacles, in spite of a severe war with Iraq that cost the lives of more than a million people, and in spite of intelligence services of America and Israel, in spite of boycotts from the international community, in spite of internal opposition. They are still empowered and no real, effective opposition is in sight.
Recorded: Sep 19, 2008