Thursday, October 27, 2005

Israel should be wiped off map, says Iran's President (Guardian)

Actually, this has long been the official policy of the Iranian government (a policy that could not be changed when the elective--and ineffective--part of the government was formally controlled by the reformists headed by President Khatami). But the current President is more straightforward about it. I suppose that's one advantage of dealing with a straight-talking fanatic.

(The Iranian population, on the other hand, is by all accounts much less hostile to Israel than any other in the Middle East. This has never had much effect on the hard-liners who control the unelective part of the government--the part with all the actual power. Since Ahmadinejad became President of Iran earlier this year, in a rather crudely manipulated election, the two parts of the Iranian government now speak with one voice.)
The Foreign Office could not recall a similar statement from a senior Iranian leader since the former president Hashemi Rafsanjani five years ago called for a Muslim state to annihilate Israel with a nuclear strike.
Technically, Rafsanjani said only that acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran would make this feasible and desireable. Still, the subject of Iran's nuclear weapons program has become touchy lately, so it may not be coincidental that Ahmadinejad now thinks the job of wiping out Israel could be accomplished by Palestinian terrorist attacks. Perhaps he's not so straight-talking after all?

=> The New York Times translation of the full text of Ahmadinejad's speech is HERE.  The English-language translation of Ahmadinejad's key formulations (including "Israel must be wiped off the map") by the Iranian government's own IRIB news service, is HERE.

--Jeff Weintraub

P.S. (10/28/2005): As my friend Andy Markovits correctly points out:: "Alas, this merely expressed in the open what millions of Muslims and Arabs actually feel: Israel is a FREMDKOERPER [foreign body] in their midst that simply has GOT to go." He could have added that millions of other Arabs and Muslims may be willing to come to terms, grudgingly and pragmatically, with the reality of Israel's existence, but they do not accept that Israel has any legitimate right to exist. There are various practical conclusions one might draw from these facts; but, unfortunately, they have to be recognized as facts.

Thursday October 27, 2005
Israel should be wiped off map, says Iran's president

Ewen MacAskill and Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Thursday October 27, 2005
The Guardian

Iran's new president created a sense of outrage in the west yesterday by describing Israel as a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the face of the earth". Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is more hardline than his predecessor, told students in Tehran that a new wave of Palestinian attacks would be enough to finish off Israel.
The populist leader's comments, reported by the state-run media, come at a time when Tehran is under pressure over its suspect nuclear weapons ambitions and alleged involvement in attacks on British troops in Iraq.
He said: "Anybody who recognises Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury, [while] any [Islamic leader] who recognises the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world." He was addressing a conference titled The World Without Zionism.
His speech was immediately condemned by the US, Britain, France, Germany and Israel. The Foreign Office could not recall a similar statement from a senior Iranian leader since the former president Hashemi Rafsanjani five years ago called for a Muslim state to annihilate Israel with a nuclear strike. Since then, there has been a mild thaw in relations between Muslim states, including Arab ones, and Israel.
But Mr Ahmadinejad rejected compromise: "There is no doubt that the new wave [of attacks] in Palestine will wipe off this stigma [Israel] from the face of the Islamic world." Recalling the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of Iran's Islamic revolution, he said: "As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map."
The US and Britain are leading a push to have Iran referred to the UN security council next month because of fears that it is covertly engaged in securing a nuclear weapons capability by deciding to restart a uranium conversion programme, an early step towards such an ability. Tehran has repeatedly said its programme is for civil use only.
Both the US and Britain saw their fears about Mr Ahmadinejad's election confirmed when he made a fiery speech at a UN summit in New York in September. His predecessor, Muhammad Khatami, had tried to improve links with the west and been less vocal in condemnation of Israel.
The US said the president's remarks proved the accuracy of Washington's fears. "I think it reconfirms what we have been saying about the regime. It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear intentions," Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, said.
Mark Regev, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, said: "Unfortunately this is not the first time that we've heard such an extremist message from the Iranian leadership. I think there is a growing understanding in the international community that the regime is not Israel's problem alone, but a problem the entire international community must grapple with."
Israel views Iran as its main security threat in the Middle East. The defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, has said Tehran could be capable of developing a nuclear weapon within months and that there is a need for urgent action to prevent that.
Israel has issued thinly veiled threats against Iran's nuclear programme if diplomatic efforts fail and is buying 500 "bunker-buster" bombs from the US that could be used to destroy the facilities. The Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, raised the question of the nuclear programme with the visiting Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Jerusalem yesterday. Russia is selling nuclear fuel for the reactors to Iran, despite Israel's objections.
France and Germany expressed concern about Mr Ahmadinejad's remarks yesterday. Jean-Baptiste Mattei, a French foreign ministry spokesman, said: "We have noted press articles reporting the comments of President Ahmadinejad. If these comments were indeed made, we condemn them with the utmost firmness." A German foreign ministry spokesman, Walter Lindner, said: "Should these comments have actually been made, they are completely unacceptable and to be condemned in the sharpest terms."

IRIB News (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting)
October 26, 2005
Ahmadinejad: Israel must be wiped off the map

Tehran, Oct 26 - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

"The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world," the President told a conference in Tehran entitled 'the world without Zionism'.

"The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land," he said.

"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," said Ahmadinejad, referring to the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini.

Addressing some 4,000 students gathered in an interior ministry conference hall, Ahmadinejad also called for Palestinian unity, resistance and a point where the annihilation of the Zionist regime will come.

"The Islamic umma (community) will not allow its historic enemy to live in its heartland," he said.

Regarding the Zionist regime's retreat from the Gaza Strip he said, "we should not settle for a piece of land".

"Anyone who signs a treaty which recognises the entity of Israel means he has signed the surrender of the Muslim world," Ahmadinejad said.

"Any leaders in the Islamic umma who recognise Israel face the wrath of their own people."

Regarding the prolonged conflict between the Islamic Ummah and the Zionist regime, Ahmadinejad said "It dates backs hundreds of years. Sometimes Islam has advanced. Sometimes nobody was winning. Unfortunately over the past 300 years, the world of Islam has been in retreat".

"One hundred years ago the last trench of Islam fell, when the oppressors went towards the creation the Zionist regime. It is using it as a fort to spread its aims in the heart of the Islamic world."