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Ahmadinejad: "I am not anti-Semitic"

Palestinians should Decide on Two-State Solution

By Juan Cole

06/27/07 "ICH" -- -- Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul continue to show themselves among the few in Congress with any integrity and backbone. They declined to go along with a resolution charging Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad with incitement to genocide, given his alleged call for Israel to be 'wiped off the face of the map.'

As most of my readers know, Ahmadinejad did not use that phrase in Persian. He quoted an old saying of Ayatollah Khomeini calling for 'this occupation regime over Jerusalem" to "vanish from the page of time.' Calling for a regime to vanish is not the same as calling for people to be killed. Ahmadinejad has not to my knowledge called for anyone to be killed. (Wampum has more; as does the American Street).

If Ahmadinejad is a genocidal maniac who just wants to kill Jews, then why are there 20,000 Jews in Iran with a member of parliament in Tehran? Couldn't he start at home if that was what he is really about?

I was talking to two otherwise well-informed Israeli historians a couple of weeks ago, and they expressed the conviction that Ahmadinejad had threatened to nuke Israel. I was taken aback. First of all, Iran doesn't have a nuke. Second, there is no proof that Iran even has a nuclear weapons program. Third, Ahmadinejad has denied wanting a bomb. Fourth, Ahmadinejad has never threatened any sort of direct Iranian military action against Israel. In other words, that is a pretty dramatic fear for educated persons to feel, on the basis of . . . nothing.

I renew my call to readers to write protest letters to newspapers and other media every time they hear it alleged that Ahmadinejad (or "Iran"!) has threatened to "wipe Israel off the map." There is no such idiom in Persian and it is not what he said, and the mistranslation gives entirely the wrong impression. Wars can start over bad translations.

It was apparently some Western wire service that mistranslated the phrase as 'wipe Israel off the map', which sounds rather more violent than calling for regime change. Since then, Iranian media working in English have themselves depended on that translation. One of the tricks of Right-Zionist propagandists is to substitute these English texts for Ahmadinejad's own Persian text. (Ethan Bronner at the New York Times tried to pull this, and more recently Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute.) But good scholarship requires that you go to the original Persian text in search of the meaning of a phrase. Bronner and Rubin are guilty disregarding philological scholarship in favor of mere propagandizing.

These propaganda efforts against Iran and Ahmadinejad also depend on declining to enter into evidence anything else he has ever said-- like that it would be wrong to kill Jews! They also ignore that Ahmadinejad is not even the commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces.

Anyone who reads this column knows that I deeply disagree with Ahmadinejad's policies and am not interested in defending him on most things. I profoundly disagree with his characterization of Israel, which is a legitimate United Nations member state, and find his Holocaust denial monstrous. But this quite false charge that he is genocidal is being promoted by Right-Zionists in and out of Congress as a preparatory step to getting up a US war against Iran on false pretences. I don't want to see my country destroyed by being further embroiled in the Middle East for the wrong reasons. If the Israeli hardliners and their American amen corner want a war with Iran, let them fight it themselves and leave young 18 year old Americans alone.

So here are some things Ahmadinezhad has said that make clear his intentions, and which are translated by the United States government Open Source Center. He is hostile to Israel. He'd like to see regime change (apparently via a referendum on the shape of the government ruling over geographical Palestine, in which all "original" residents of any religion would get a vote). Calling for a referendum on the dissolution of a government is not calling for genocide. Ahmadinejad also says he has no objection to a Jewish state in and of itself, he just thinks it should be located in, say, German territory set apart for the purpose, rather than displacing Palestinians from their homes. He may be saying unrealistic things; he is not advocating killing Jews qua Jews, or genocide.

Note that Ahmadinejad below denies being an anti-Semite (why deny it if he supposedly glories in it?); points out that he supports Jewish representation in the Iranian parliament; and compares his call for an end to the Zionist regime ruling over Jerusalem to the Western call for the dissolution of the old Soviet Union. Was Ronald Reagan inciting to genocide when he called for an end of the Soviet regime?

 

Iran's President Ahmadinezhad Holds New York News Conference 21 Sep
News conference by Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad at UN headquarters in New York -- correspondents' questions in English simultaneously translated into Persian -- live
Islamic Republic of Iran News Network Television (IRINN)
Friday, September 22, 2006

Regarding the issue of the invasion of Lebanon, you saw that everyone - of all religions, of all faiths - condemned it. Because the nations have awakened. The nations hate aggression. . . Some people think that if they level accusations at Ahmadinezhad - saying: He is a terrorist, he is a murderer, he is anti-Semitic - the issue would be resolved. No. I am not anti-Semitic. Like all other human beings, Jews are respected. And, by the way, there are Muslims and Christians and Jews among the Palestinian people. We say the people of Palestine should choose. We do not say that it should be the Palestinian Muslims. For they lived in peace and harmony in the past. But then Britain came over and, with colonialist goals, took control and then handed it over to the Zionists. And the problem started. Let the people choose and see what will happen.

Iranian Television Broadcasts President Ahmadinezhad's Interview With French TV
"Exclusive interview" with Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad by David Pujadas of French TV's TF2 Channel on 22 March 2007 -- recorded
Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1
Sunday, March 25, 2007

(David Pujadas) The fact that Iran's position is disconcerting, one of the reasons is that Your Excellency's statements are to a large extent threatening. For instance, your assertion that Israel should be wiped from the map of the world, all these things have created some concern which has been reflected in the nuclear case too.

(Ahmadinezhad) . . . Let me ask you this question: where is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics now? Was it not wiped off (the map)? How was it wiped off? We have a totally humanitarian solution for Palestine. We have said that all the Palestinians should take part in a free referendum so as to end the 60 year old war. The outcome is clear from now. It is because of the same outcome that America and Britain are refusing to yield.

(David Pujadas) Let us clarify everything. Do you really wish to wipe Israel off the face of the earth? Do you have a plan for this job or are you in fact making such a prediction?

(Ahmadinezhad) Look, I told you the solution. I think the people of Palestine also have the right to determine their own fate. Let them choose for themselves, the Christians, the Jews and the Muslims. That is, all the Palestinians who belong to that land can participate in the referendum. I think the outcome of such a referendum is already clear. We saw what happened in last year's elections (when they voted for HAMAS).

(David Pujadas) If the Palestinians themselves accept that two governments should enjoy peaceful coexistence next to each other, will you be ready to accept their decision?

(Ahmadinezhad) Incidentally this is what we are saying. That is, we are saying let the nation of Palestine decide for itself without any imposition. They should be allowed to do so in a free atmosphere. This is the right of the Palestinian people. Let them decide for themselves. Let them decide the shape of their own government.

(David Pujadas) Do you mean with Israel as their neighbor?

(Ahmadinezhad) Look, let the nation of Palestine decide about its own state. This is the right of the Palestinian people. . .

(David Pujadas) A lot is being said about the 60m people who have been killed during World War II, but why should we just discuss the 6m people who have been killed in the Nazi camps for being Jews?

(Ahmadinezhad) You well know that we respect everyone. The Jews, Christians, Muslims. They are all free in our country and they have their own representatives in our Majles [Parliament]. You know that according to the Law in Iran, every 150,000 people have one representative in the Majles. But the number of the Jews is not even 20,000 people and they have a representative. We say that the life and belongings of all people should be respected. We condemn all crimes. . .


Iran: Presidential Website Reports Ahmadinezhad's Remarks at Holocaust Conference
Unattributed report: "The President: Truth-Seeking and Honest Groups Should Be Formed To Investigate the Holocaust"
Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran WWW-Text
Thursday, December 28, 2006

The president stated that due to God's wish and the vigilance of nations the days of the Zionist regime are numbered and added: We want prosperity for all humans and even like to guide our enemies, but some European and American politicians' one-sided and bigoted support for the Zionist regime no longer has a function in the world.

Dr Ahmadinezhad stated that, with each day that passes of the Zionist regime's life, the interests and reputation of its supporting powers become more endangered. He added: The sensible and fair solution is to remove this regime the same way it was set up and imposed on the region's countries through planning and imperialistic objectives. This will bring peace to the world, and the region's countries will also forgive the atrocities of the last 60 years.

The president also stated that God did not create human beings for war, hatred, and enmity. He said the key for establishment of peace and harmony is justice; justice is achievable through monotheism and believing in God. He emphasized: An international effort must be made to establish peace and to remove the roots of insecurity and injustice, as the international balance is changing rapidly and the future evolutions will certainly be for peace, brotherhood, justice, and worshiping God.

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