December 20, 2005
The Guardian

Ahmadinejad on Israel: Global Danger or Political Infighting?

by Simon Tisdall

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hostile jibes at Israel have caused almost universal offence. But Iran-watchers are divided over whether the president's statements mark a dangerous shift in Tehran's international outlook or form part of an internal power struggle.

Mr Ahmadinejad's threat "to wipe Israel off the map" should be taken seriously, said Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel working at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "Should Israel be satisfied that he scored an own goal, further isolating Iran?" he asked. "The answer to my mind is clearly no."

Mr Indyk said the president's threats were consistent with a decade-long "war by proxy" waged through Hizbullah in Lebanon and Islamic Jihad in Palestine. Nor was Mr Amadinejad alone in his views. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, declared in September that "jihad is the only way to confront the Zionist enemy".

But Iran's military capacity is limited - and no match for nuclear-armed Israel. . . .


United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, adopted on 10 November 1975, "Determines that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination" with 72 votes in favour, 35 votes against, and 32 abstentions. It was revoked by Resolution 46/86, adopted on 16 December 1991 with 111 votes in favour, 25 votes against, and 13 abstentions.

[Can Lebanon rightfully assassinate Israel's Gen. Ariel Sharon, who, in 1982, ordered the invasion of Lebanon, and massive shelling of Beirut that killed 15,700 Lebanese civilians?--Eric Margolis, "Mideast Murder, Inc.," Toronto Sun, October 14, 1997]

[Israel's "1981 bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear research facility near Baghdad, . . . with U.S.-made warplanes and direct U.S. assistance, helped radicalize Iraq" says former U.S. Congressman Paul Findley.--Enver Masud, "U.S. Backed Israel Prepares To Strike Iran," The Wisdom Fund, June 25, 1998]

["It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them.--"Rabbi calls for annihilation of Arabs," BBC News, April 10. 2001]

A. K. Ramakrishnan, "Mahatma Gandhi Rejected Zionism," BBC News, April 10. 2001

Rabbi Dovid Weiss, "Judaism: An Alternative to Zionism," Neturei Karta International, April 1, 2002

[We strive to merely state the truth of the Torah, that the Jewish people never aspired and do not aspire to have their own entity or any political existence. In fact, our will is simply to follow the Torah, to be a people of the book, and be loyal to the countries wherein we reside as is required by G-d. Repentance, acceptance of the teachings of the Torah, return of the land in full, and the complete dismantlement and transformation of the entire "state of Israel" to a land belonging to the rule of the indigenous Palestinian people, is the only G-dly solution, and the only solution that can truly bring peace.--"Orthodox Jews to DEMONSTRATE REGARDING THE "GENEVA INITIATIVE"," Neturei Karta, December 3, 2003]

[Now it is the Palestinians' turn to prove their desire for peace--Ariel Sharon, "Speech to the UN General Assembly, September 15, 2005," Haaretz]

[Mike Rivero's examples of the desire for peace by the Israelis:

"Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."--Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine, Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895 entry.

"We will establish ourselves in Palestine whether you like it or not...You can hasten our arrival or you can equally retard it. It is however better for you to help us so as to avoid our constructive powers being turned into a destructive power which will overthrow the world."--Chaim Weizmann, Published in "Judische Rundschau," No. 4, 1920

"The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war."--Israeli General Matityahu Peled, Ha'aretz, March 19, 1972

"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."--Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aahronot, of July 14,1972.

"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population."-- Israel Koenig, "The Koenig Memorandum," April 1976

"We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Moslem regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and move on and take Port Said, Alexandria and Sinai."--David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.

"We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?' Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said 'Drive them out!'"--Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, October 23, 1979.

"When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle."--Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, New York Times, April 14, 1983

"We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel... Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours."--Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot, April 13, 1983, New York Times April 14, 1983

"We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves."--Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983

"The Palestinians" would be crushed like grasshoppers ... heads smashed against the boulders and walls."--Isreali Prime Minister (at the time, in a speech to Jewish settlers) New York Times, April 1, 1988

"Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it."--Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio.]

[If there is one contemporary event that continues to anger many people, it is the coup staged in 1953 that ousted the prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, and reinstalled the shah, who had fled the country. Although the Central Intelligence Agency was involved in ousting Mossadegh, popular sentiment here holds that it was British intelligence that pulled the strings.--Michael Slackman, "Evil deeds in Iran? British are suspects No. 1," New York Times, February 9, 2006]

[One day they (the Israelis) used to utter the slogan of the "Nile to the Euphrates."--Barbara Slavin, "Iran can progress despite enemies, president says," USA Today, February 12, 2006

[. . . in the Wall Street Journal of July 7, 2004, Timothy Ryback wrote that "there is little forensic evidence proving homicidal intent" in the ruins of Auschwitz. . . .

British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a routine pompous suggestion to Ahmadinejad: Visit the camps and see for yourself. Ahmadinejad replied: Good idea, I'll bring a scientific team. He knows about the forensic issues too.--Arthur R. Butz, "Iran has the U.S.'s number," Daily Northwestern, February 14, 2006]

[You can always tell when the War Party wants a new war. They will invariably trot out the Argumentum ad Hitlerum. . . .

"This is 1935, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is as close to Adolf Hitler as we've seen," said Newt Gingrich to a startled editor at Human Events. . . .

In 1942, Hitler's armies dominated Europe from the Pyrenees to the Urals. Ahmadinejad is the president of a nation whose air and naval forces would be toasted in hours by the United States. Iran has missiles that can hit Israel, but no nuclear warheads. Israel could put scores of atom bombs on Iran. The United States, without losing a plane, could make the country uninhabitable with one B-2 flyover and a few MX and Trident missiles.

Why would Ayatollah Khamenei, who has far more power than Ahmadinejad, permit him to ignite a war that could mean the end of their revolution and country? And if we were not intimidated by a USSR with thousands of nuclear warheads targeted on us, why should Ahmadinejad cause Newt to break out in cold sweats at night?-- Patrick J. Buchanan, "Churchill, Hitler, and Newt," The Conservative Voice, February 18, 2006

"Helmut Kohl agrees with Ahmadinejad on Holocaust," Iran Focus, March 5, 2006

[An Iranian bomb is neither imminent nor would it be apocalyptic. According to the latest U.S. intelligence estimates, Tehran is a decade away from possessing a nuclear weapon.

. . . it's time for Washington to call Ahmadinejad's bluff by playing the card the hard-liners fear most: a dramatic U.S. offer of reconciliation, including a security guarantee like that offered North Korea. Such a move would expose the rifts in the regime, deny the hard-liners the confrontation they court, and deprive the bankrupt revolutionaries of their Great Satan.--Stanley A. Weiss, "Iran's president is playing a weak hand," International Herald Tribune, March 15, 2006

[He did not say how this would be achieved--Ali Akbar Dareini, "Iran Leader: Israel Will Be Annihilated," Associated Press, April 14, 2006]

[How can US global policy be reconciled with the teachings of Jesus and other prophets of the monotheistic religions?--Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "Those in power do not rule for ever: history will judge our presidencies," Letter to George Bush, May 11, 2006]

Rosa Brooks, "A preschool lesson on Iran," Los Angeles Times, May 12, 2006

[He said that Israel should be wiped off the face of the Middle East in the sense of being removed to Europe. He was making the rhetorical point that if the Europeans so favored a Jewish state, why did the Westerners not give the Jews part of Europe or North America? Why did they give the Jews Palestine, which was not theirs to give?

One may agree or disagree with the Iranian's point, but it was not a threat to kill the Jews.--Paul Craig Roberts, "How Bush Brewed the Iranian Crisis,", May 24, 2006]

Michael Slackman, "Iran chief eclipses clerics as he consolidates power," New York Times, May 28, 2006

[As David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, the most experienced non-governmental expert on Iran's nuclear program, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty immediately after his election, Ahmadinejad "doesn't have much to do with the nuclear issue." Albright observed that the policy on Iran's nuclear program is run by the Supreme National Security Council "directly under the supreme leader."--Gareth Porter, "Khamenei in Control and Ready to 'Haggle'," Inter Press Service, May 30, 2006]

[For eight years, the Western countries provided arms to Saddam in the war against us, including chemical weapons, and gave him political support. . . .

We're a civilized, cultured people, and our history shows that we have never attacked another country. . . .

It's interesting to note that European nations wanted to allow the shah's dictatorship the use of nuclear technology. That was a dangerous regime. Yet those nations were willing to supply it with nuclear technology. Ever since the Islamic Republic has existed, however, these powers have been opposed to it. I stress once again, we don't need any nuclear weapons.--Stefan Aust, Gerhard Sprl and Dieter Bednarz, "SPIEGEL Interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," Spiegel Online, May 30, 2006]

[Ask anyone in Washington, London or Tel Aviv if they can cite any phrase uttered by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the chances are high they will say he wants Israel "wiped off the map".

Again it is four short words, though the distortion is worse than in the Khrushchev case. The remarks are not out of context. They are wrong, pure and simple. Ahmadinejad never said them. Farsi speakers have pointed out that he was mistranslated. . . .

There was no implication that either Khomeini, when he first made the statement, or Ahmadinejad, in repeating it, felt it was imminent, or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about. --Jonathan Steele, "If Iran is ready to talk, the US must do so unconditionally," Guardian, June 2, 2006]

[In the thinking of Jabotinsky Zionists like Olmert, there is simply no place for the Palestinians in the Land of Israel: "There is no choice: the Arabs must make room for the Jews of Eretz Israel," Jabotinsky wrote.--Christopher Bollyn, "THE BLOODY REIGN OF EHUD OLMERT AND HIS TIES TO 9/11,", June 18, 2006]

"Israeli Officials Call to 'Decapitate' Hamas Leaders!," International Press Center, June 20, 2006

"Iranian Leader Speaks To Mike Wallace," CBS News, August 9, 2006

[I have no intention of arguing about the Holocaust. But does it not stand to reason that some victorious countries of World War II intended to create an alibi on the basis of which they could continue keeping the defeated nations of World War II indebted to them.--"President Ahmadinejad's letter to the German Chancellor," CBS News, September 3, 2006]

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's U.N. Address," NPR, September 19, 2006

[Since the Holocaust, it has been almost impossible to hide large-scale crimes against humanity. . . . yet, Ilan Pappe unveils, one such crime has been erased from the global public memory: the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948.--Ilan Pappe, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine," Oneworld Publications, October 2006]

"Iran president's letter to the U.S.," MSNBC, November 29, 2006

["Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out,"--Paul Hughes, "Iran president says Israel's days are numbered," Reuters, December 12, 2006]

[Western academics, journalists and politicians generally IGNORE the WW2 man-made Bengal Famine in British-ruled India that killed 4 million - it was associated with a 1940s demographic deficit of 10 million, horrendous military and civilian sexual abuse of starving Indian women and girls, and may have been due to a deliberate, cold-blooded British scorched earth policy to discourage Japanese invasion from Burma. This Bengal Holocaust became a Forgotten Holocaust - it has been deleted from most British history books and from general public perception in a continuing process of egregious Holocaust Denial. Yet it was to the WW2 Bengal Famine that the word "Holocaust" was first applied--Gideon Polya, "UK, US And Israeli State Terrorism And Western Holocaust Denial,", December 21, 2006]

[The full quote translated directly to English: "The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time". Word by word translation: Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).-- Arash Norouzi, "Iran's President Did Not Say 'Israel must be wiped off the map',", January 19 2007]

[Avigdor Lieberman as deputy prime minister and minister for strategic threats . . . advocates forceful expulsion of all Palestinians from occupied territories and Israel.

Mr. Lieberman is not alone in his views. Gamla, an Israeli organization founded by Jewish settlers and former Israeli military officers, has published detailed plans for the "complete elimination of the Arab demographic threat to Israel."--S. Amjad Hussain, "Israel is faced with a difficult choice, Toledo Blade, January 29, 2007]

M K Bhadrakumar, "Ahmadinejad held hostage to bazaar politics," Asia Times, February 3, 2007

[Some 25,000 Jews still live in Iran and many say that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's fiery anti-Israeli rhetoric is about politics, not religion.--Scott Peterson, "In Ahmadinejad's Iran, Jews still find a space," Christian Science Monitor, April 27, 2007]

Arash Norouzi, "'Wiped off the Map' - The Rumor of the Century,", May 26, 2007

["If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand," said Shmuel Eliyahu. "And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."

In the letter, Eliyahu quoted from Psalms. "I will pursue my enemies and apprehend them and I will not desist until I have eradicated them."--Matthew Wagner, "Eliyahu advocates carpet bombing Gaza," Haaretz, May 30, 2007]

"Iran president sees 'countdown' to Israel's end," Reuters, June 3, 2007

VIDEO: Max Blumenthal, "Rapture Ready: The Christians United for Israel Tour," YouTube, July 26, 2007

[There is an interesting problem with selling the "Iran as Nazi Germany" line. If Ahmadinejad really is Hitler, ready to commit genocide against Israel's Jews as soon as he can get his hands on a nuclear weapon, why are some 25,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran and more than reluctant to leave despite repeated enticements from Israel and American Jews? . . .

Ahmadinejad was not threatening to exterminate Jews or even Israel. He was comparing Israel's occupation of the Palestinians with other illegitimate systems of rule whose time had passed, including the shahs who once ruled Iran, apartheid South Africa and the Soviet empire. Nonetheless, this erroneous translation has survived and prospered because Israel and her supporters have exploited it for their own crude propaganda purposes.--Jonathan Cook, "Sacrificed to Zionism: Just as Jews in Egypt and Iraq in the 20th century were manipulated by Israel, so now Iran's Jewish community is in peril," Al-Ahram, August 2, 2007]

Nasser Karimi, "Iran Holocaust Show Sympathetic to Jews," Guardian, September 16, 2007

"Transcript of Ahmadinejad's U.N. Speech,", September 19, 2007

Anne Penketh, "The Big Question: Is America right to demonise President Ahmadinejad of Iran?," Independent, September 26, 2007

Charley Reese, "US Politicians, Not Ahmadinejad, Have Blood on Their Hands,", September 29, 2007

Robert Scheer, "It Turns Out Ahmadinejad Was the Truthful One,", December 4, 2007

Nazila Fathi, "Iran's President Denies Hostility to Israelis," New York Times, September 18, 2008

"Full text of Ahmadinejad's speech to the UN General Assembly," Haaretz, September 24, 2008

"Ahmadinejad congratulates Abrahamic faiths on birth of Jesus," Guardian, December 25, 2008

VIDEO: Max Blumenthal, "Pro- Israel Rally Attended by Big-Time NY Dems Descends into Calls for 'Wiping Out' Palestinians," AlterNet, January 13, 2009

"Full Text of President Ahmadinejad's Remarks at UN Conference on Racism," Foreign Policy Journal, April 21, 2009

[It is an important principle of journalism that when someone makes a statement, especially a controversial one with grave implications, the comment should be put in the fullest possible context so the reader can make an informed judgment. But that rule doesn't seem to apply when the New York Times writes about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.--Robert Parry, "What Did Ahmadinejad Really Say?,", September 9, 2009]

Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat, "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed to have Jewish past," Telegraph, October 3, 2009

Glenn Kessler, "Did Ahmadinejad really say Israel should be 'wiped off the map'?,", October 5, 2011

Brian Wheeler, "The 'Iranian Schindler' who saved Jews from the Nazis," BBC News, December 20, 2011

[Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor . . . They didn't say 'we'll wipe it out', you are right, but [that] it will not survive, it is a cancerous tumor, it should be removed--Teymoor Nabili, "A Rare Admission From Israel,", April 13, 2012]

[Ahmadinejad essentially was predicting that Israel's rule over Jerusalem would eventually come to an end, much like the once mighty Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s.--Elizabeth Murray, "How Obama Recycled a Lie about Iran,", April 25, 2012]

[Headlines are designed to grab the reader's attention and pull 'em in."--REUTERS AND AHMADINEJAD: ANATOMY OF A DANGEROUS MISQUOTE,", September 25, 2012]

"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Speech Before UN General Assembly,", September 26, 2012

[When Shlomo Sand's book The Invention of the Jewish People was published it caused a largely a storm of outrage here in the United States among the few who read it. It was a bestseller in Israel, though mostly reviled, and where it was reviewed in the American corporate press the response was deeply hostile. Its central argument holds that the Jews of Europe, the Ashkenazim, are largely descendants of peoples who converted to Judaism in the distant past and that the claim that all Jews descend from ancient Israelites is false. Therefore the contention that European Jews are reclaiming ancient rights to their homeland in what is now Israel is a false claim. Moreover, the peoples now known as "Palestinians" are in all likelihood much more closely descended genetically from the ancient Israelites but who in the course of history converted for one reason or another either to Christianity or to Islam, and who therefore have a just claim to the land.--Paul Atwood, " Whatever Happened to Shlomo Sand? Missing in Action After the Storm Over the 'Invention of the Jewish People',", February 14, 2014]

Rick Gladstone, "Reporting From Iran, Jewish Paper Sees No Plot to Destroy Israel,", August 12, 2015

[We did not agree with President Ahmadinejad, and we told him so. He did not directly deny the Holocaust, he questioned it--Siamak Morsadegh, "Jewish life in Iran was 'always better than in Europe',", May 15, 2017]

"Israelis Speak Candidly to Abby Martin About Palestinians," October 1, 2017

"Debate: Anti-Zionism is Anti-Semitism," iqsquared, July 26, 2019

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