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Ahmadinejad Did Not Say - "Wipe Israel Off The Map"

Let’s fill in the Blanks in the Speech of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

By Arzu Celalifer

10/30/05 "
Turkish Weekly" -- -- The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was addressing a conference in Tehran entitled "The World without Zionism", attended by around 3,000 students on Wednesday and the following day, we could find “Israel should be Wiped of the Map” title in nearly all of the news sources around the world. The remarks by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted a chorus of international condemnation. Sometimes it seems easier to copy paste some parts of a speech or article and create a noisy atmosphere. Hence, it will be better to analyze all dynamics of this event and try to find out the missing points.

At the beginning, it will be helpful to explain the aim of this conference. In 1979, the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared the last Friday of the Muslim month of Ramadan as an international day of struggle for the “liberation” of Jerusalem (in Arabic Al-Qods) and against occupier Zionist Regime. Henceforth, on “Al-Qods Day”, Muslims all over the world were to demonstrate against the existence of the state of Israel. Annually, the Iranian regime organizes a big Al-Qods Rally in Tehran and prior to this rally there is always a conference related to the Palestine Problem. “The World without Zionism” conference is also one of these organizations and the speech made by Mr. Ahmedinejad was aimed the liberation of Al-Qods and Palestinians.

It would be wiser to have a look at full text of the speech rather than selecting some parts of it. Doubtless it would make sense and would give some clues about the reasons of such a speech.
But before discussing about the context it will be noteworthy to remind some points:

1. The main topic of the organization was “liberation of Al-Qods and anti-zionism”
2. The hostility among two countries is not a secret
3. Anti-zionism is a pillar policy of Islamic Republic of Iran since its existence

Now we can review the speech quickly. At first, he explained the real meaning of Palestine adventure from his point of view. “The Palestine problem is not a conflict among Jewish and Muslims, it is not a conflict between Jewish and other sects; it is neither a fight among two countries nor a fight between a country and the rest Arab world. The establishment of the occupier Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world” he said in his speech. Later on he talked about the historic fight among Muslim world and the world oppressor. “It dates back 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," he said and talked about history for a while.

Than he touched on the name of conference and continued his speech by giving some examples to prove that this name is not exaggerated and utopian. He expresses that many external bodies are trying to impose hopelessness in the conflict between Islamic world and the world oppressor.

He said “Lots of hopeless people ask whether a world without America or Zionism is possible or not”? And then, added that the answer to this question is absolutely positive as the same thing was happened in Iran Monarchy case, USSR case and Saddam dictatorship case. He pointed out that the famous iron curtain collapsed and it can be found only in history books nowadays. He told that “A recent similar case is Saddam, who assumed himself immortal and eternal, but today his legs and arms are chained and he is adjudicated by his former collaborators today” and following these examples he made a quotation from the Imam Khomeini’s speech and said “As the Imam said, the Occupier regime of al-Qods must be wiped off the map”. Than he continued to defend the Palestinians right of having their own territories and own government. The rest of his speech is about supporting Palestine in their justified case, confronting Zionist regime and warning other Islamic countries not to make cooperation with Israel.

After giving a brief of this speech it will be easier to interpret the meaning of words. First of all; the striking slogan does not belong to Mr. Ahmedinejad and it is a quotation from Imam Khomeini’s speech. Second, it was used to say that no system is eternal and no unjust regime is undefeatable. Third; phrases can be interpreted in many ways and the result depends on the interpreter’s intention and goodwill. And finally, the words saying that “the occupier regime of Al-Qods must wipe off the map” just mean the Zionist regime not Israeli and Jewish people. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s anti-zionist and anti-american approach is not a new thing. The “death to America” and “death to Israel” slogans exist since the first days of the revolution. But these slogans aimed at American government and Zionist Regime not their nations and people. On the other hand, both America and Israel declares that the Islamic Regime in Iran shall collapse in every occasion. So what is the difference between both sides’ intentions? Do we have to interpret that both Israel and America wish Iran to be wiped of the map, or do we have to understand that their problem is the current Islamic system in Iran? Hence, it will be useful to evaluate the events objectively.

But in the meantime it can be said that senior officials had avoided such a provocative language in the last decade, but Mr. Ahmadinejad appears to be taking a more confrontational tone than recent Iranian leaders. It shall not be a surprise again, because he comes from a more conservative wing and this fact was known even before his election. Thus, his strict and more sensitive attitude towards Palestinian Problem and anti-zionist approach shall not have a shock effect, as this policy was one of the main pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran since its foundation. It will be wiser for Iran to be careful and think of herself more than other nations especially in this period that she has lots of problems with international arena concerning her nuclear activities.

The second point to be analyzed is timing. President Ahmedinejad’s comments, reported in world media, came at a time when Tehran is under pressure over its suspect nuclear programs.

Iran has an uranium enrichment program issue that has been criticized for a long time in international arena, but there is still no positive step taken except of threatening Iran to bring the matter to UN Security Council. Iran who is defending its rights as an NPT member, persistently says that she will enrich uranium to produce electricity and minimizing her foreign dependency. As China and Russia who are the most important economic partners of Iran, declared that they will not approve any sanction decision to be taken in Security Council against Iran, the situation is a little bit complex and do not serve to the aims of Western countries and Israel. This is why that timing is important.

Anti-zionist policy has always been the “sine qua non” of Iran’s regime. Thus, using a part of Mr. Ahmedinejad’s speech that had been quoted from Ayatollah Khomeini’s declaration during the first years of revolution and introducing it as a new pronunciation is really worth thinking on it. At first United States, Israel and some European countries are looking for a gap and pretext to prove the dangerous character of Iran Policies to bring her file before the Security Council, prevent her uranium enrichment program and expose her to a plenty of sanctions. Thus; this was perceived as a chance to show that a country with such wishes will also produce nuclear bombs and will use these weapons to destroy Israel. But Even 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." This means that these kinds of expressions are not new.

If it is the arguments, they were there since the beginning of the regime, but if it is to wipe out Iran’s regime, it seems that even the wing flapping of a butterfly in Tehran is sufficient to find reasons to attack the regime.

Arzu Celalifer , JTW Middle East Correspondent and Researcher, ISRO Center for Middle Eastern Studies. <celalifer@yahoo.com>
 

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