From the Israeli perspective, rallying Western states to its side was best achieved by emphasizing the alleged suicidal tendencies of the clergy and Iranâ€™s apparent infatuation with the idea of destroying Israel. As long as the Iranian leadership was viewed as irrational, conventional tactics such as deterrence would be rendered impossible, leaving the international community with no option but to have no tolerance for Iranian capabilities. How could a country like Iran be trusted with missile technology, the argument went, if its leadership was immune to dissuasion by the larger and more numerous missiles of the West?
The Israeli strategy was to ensure that the world -- particularly Washington -- would not see the Israeli-Iranian conflict as one between two rivals for military preeminence in a fundamentally disordered region that lacked a clear pecking order. Rather, Israel framed the clash as one between the sole democracy in the Middle East and an illiberal theocracy that hated everything the West stood for. Cast in those terms, the allegiance of Western states to Israel was no longer a matter of choice or real political interest.
Ironically, Iran too preferred an ideological framing of the conflict. When revolution swept Iran in 1979, the new Islamic leadership forsook the Pahlavi regimeâ€™s Persian nationalist identity, but not its yen for Iranian great-power status. Whereas the Shah sought suzerainty in the Persian Gulf and parts of the Indian Ocean, while hoping to make Iran the Japan of western Asia, the Khomeini government sought hegemony in the entire Islamic world. The Shahâ€™s means for achieving his goal were a strong army and strategic ties to the United States. The Ayatollah, on the other hand, relied on his brand of political Islam and ideological zeal to overcome the Arab-Persian divide and to undermine the Arab governments who opposed Iranâ€™s ambitions.
The second article looks at the growing movement to give women more equal rights in the Islamic Republic:
In early June, Zanestan -- an Iran-based online journal -- announced a rally in Haft Tir Square, one of Tehranâ€™s busiest, to protest legal discrimination suffered by Iranian women. The demonstration was also called to commemorate two landmark events in womenâ€™s struggle for equality in Iran. The first was the Constitutional Revolution of 1906, when women agitated for emancipation. The second was the June 12, 2005 womenâ€™s rally for revision of the constitution of the Islamic Republic. According to Zanestan, the June 12, 2006 reprise would raise specific demands: a ban on polygamy, equal rights to divorce for women and men, joint custody of children after divorce, equal rights in marriage, an increase in the minimum legal age of marriage for girls to 18, and equal rights for women as witnesses. The protesters would call, in other words, for redress of the gender inequalities embedded in the dominant interpretations of Islamic law upon which the constitution is based.
Incidentally, a lot of this activism is made possible by the internet, blogs, etc...