A few days ago, Iranian President Mahmoud “Difficult Last Name” Ahmadinejad made a casual little remark about wiping the Zionist entity off the face of the Earth. For some reason, despite the fact that the political and religious leaders of just about every Muslim country on the planet have been repeatedly saying things along these lines since May 1948, this time the international community took notice. This is sort of the international relations equivalent of, after faithfully reading the KKK’s newsletter for 40 years, waking up and realizing for the first time that David Duke doesn’t like black people.

Anyway, boys and girls, warm up your memory holes, because the Iranian Foreign Ministry has released a statement:

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to its U.N. charter commitments. It has never used force against a second country or threatened the use of force.”

Even if we overlook the fact that the use of force was threatened just a few days ago, even if we overlook “Death to Israel” written on those missiles, I’ll bet a few people who lived in Iraq circa 1980-1988 might dispute that statement.

Yet there’s more damage control going on within the Land of the Mullahs:

In a Friday prayer speech, the former speaker of the Iranian parliament, Aliakbar Nateq-Noori, said that what Ahmadinejad meant was that free and fair elections should be held in Palestine, with the participation of all Palestinians, including refugees, and that whoever wins the election should take over the government.

Farsi, you see, is a very nuanced language, and obviously the incompetent translator for the Zionist-controlled media was unable to grasp its complexities and therefore understandably heard “We must wipe Israel from the map” when what was actually said was “Free and fair elections should be held in Palestine.” It’s a mistake anybody could have made.

I don’t know what’s sadder: that Iran expects the world to be that stupid, or that the world probably is.

All I know is that I’m sure glad we successfully killed all those bad terrorists in Iraq and, now that democracy is flowering throughout the Middle East, no sovereign nation would ever advocate, y’know, nuking the Jews.

I love the new world order!

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  • Ahh, the “World Without Zionism” conference, what a blast. Of course it was only the latest in a series of rousing confabs hosted on Mullah-Mullah Island, starting with the “World Without Basic Human Rights” and “World Without Running Water and Electricity” festivals.

    The “World Without…” conventions were designed with the young Muslim in mind who might be asking themselves such satanic questions as “why is our country such a third-world shithole compared to the rest of the world?”.

    “the World Without…” series aims to show these young subjects that a world without, well, pretty much everything CAN be a joy to live in.

    The answer to such dangerous thinking as “why are the western Zionist pig-dogs so much richer and happier than us?” is not, of course, to try and implement such heretical institutions as “freedom” or “human dignity” in a futile attempt to make your Muslim country prosperous or respected by the world community, but rather to plunge oneself into a fanatical world of radical fundamentalism and hatred which squarely places the blame for your own problems at the feet of another country- preferably one you’ve never been to and know nothing about.

    With the help of such fun-filled indoctrination in the friendly environment of an echo chamber of radical Islamic nutjobs, even the most cynical young Muslim will see that we can all take pride in the Muslim “World Without”.

  • This comment is in response to the ignorant and biased remark Dizzy Molestme left in regards to praising Israel and abusing Iran’s significant respect in the world and harassing one of the most ancient language of today called farsi which is spoken ir Iran today.

    Let’s cut to the chase. I’m not here to defend any country or say that any country is unworthy of being, but I do want to point out is that we need to keep a bigger perspective on things and not so easily jump into conclusions. The world is much more political and twisted to be so easily thought out and so labeled.

    I do believe that the U.S. is using Israel as a tool to cause chaos in the Middle East. If they love Israel so much why not give them just one state of the fifty they have so that Israelies may live in peace and have a place?

    So what is the solution? The solution is for other countries to mind their own business. As simple as that but so hard to follow because humans love to conquer and are never satisfied with what they have.

    A word on Iran. Iran has been forgotten in time through constant warfare, misfortune, and international politics to bring it down. Don’t forget that Iran, once known as Persia, was the first great empire of the ancient world and whoever you are, you are descendants of the Persian people themselves. Even with all that power the Persian kings were just and tolerant of other peoples. Let us not forget it was King Cyrus himself as written in the Tora that saved the Jews from prosecution and offered them refuge yet allowed them to practice whatever they believed in. That is admirable.

    Let us learn and follow the deeds of goodness and follow the path of our ancient fathers.

  • Yeah. Iran has such significant respect in the world today. From other genocidal theocratic Muslim regimes with nuclear ambitions.

    Why doesn’t the US give the Israelis one state out of fifty? Hmmm…maybe because the Jews want to live on their ancestral land, where their history is, where Jews have lived for 4000 years? But nice try.

    So I believe what you’re saying is that if the damned Jews would just all move to South Dakota, the world would be a better place. How can we blame the esteemed, enlightened Iranians for threatening to demolish Israel? I mean, it’s just sitting there asking for it! Because clearly, Israel is an invention of the US to stir up discord in the Middle East. It’s certainly not the result of Jews going home after 2000 years and rebuilding their state.

    And no, we’re not descendants of the Persian people. We’re Semites. And Cyrus did not save the Jews from persecution, he allowed the Judean exiles to return to their country.

    Cyrus: First Zionist?

    So please, read a book or something.

  • Thesiod wrote: “I do believe that the U.S. is using Israel as a tool to cause chaos in the Middle East.”

    Well I’m from the US and believe me, we don’t need Israel to cause chaos in the middle-east.

    That admittedly-uncomfortable fact notwithstanding, your comment is ridiculous because the US/Israel/whoever can only cause “chaos” in other countries as much as other countries ALLOW “chaos” to be “caused”. Nobody is twisting Iran’s arm (or Pakistan, or Suadi Arabia, or Jordan, et al) forcing them to hate Jews. They do that on their own. Rather than putting all that great energy and focus into, oh, I don’t know…..building an infrastructure so that 70,000 of their own subjects don’t die next time an earthquake hits due to their rotting, decrepit buildings, what do they choose to do with their time instead? Hold a “World Without Zionism” conference. Wow, I’m in awe of this glorious Persian culture.

    Nobody is forcing Arabs or Persians or Muslims or whoever to hate Jews and hate Israel. Of course, I’m sure that the leaders of Muslim countries would understandably much rather see any well-justified anger towards political leadership be directed outside their own borders and regimes. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” (or the bruised woman behind the veil, as it were), “instead let’s all hate Israel and villify the jews”.

    Of course, 95% of Iranians have probably never been to Israel or met an Israeli since most are too poor to transverse even their own country (yeah, I saw “Baran”, I’m a worldly dude) but what the hell, eh? “Let’s hate them anyways, that way we don’t have to be MEN and clean up our own disgusting backyards”, right?

    So spare me the lectures, friend. Iran sucks and it’s nobody’s fault but their own that they have to rely on past glory from 5,000 years ago to feel some pride. I’m from LA and have had Iranian friends, but they got the fuck out of that shithole as soon as the fundamentalist crackpots took over, and now they’re happy to live in the US and earn their fortunes in the Great Capitalist Satan, even if it means dealing with *gasp* Jews! Incredible notion, eh?

    Anyways, not that you seem to have much on the ball dialectically, but I would be interested to know how you feel I “disrespected the Farsi language”, heh….. just for hoots ‘n hollers.

  • Ok, I’m confused. Every year there is a Jerusalem Day in Iran. Every year the rhetoric is the same. If you can’t see that this year’s obnoxious rhetoric is suddenly being discovered and exploited for ulterior geopolitical motives, you are being deliberately obtuse.

    Iran has the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel. Some estimates are as high as 30,000 people. If President Difficult Name was doing anything more than the usual rhetorical flourish, I think we would be hearing about pogroms against that community. After all, why not start at home? While discrimination exists and there have been fraudulent spy trials, the Jews in Iran are actually better off than other minorities who are detested by the regime, like the Bahais. Because Jews are people of the book and Bahaism is a heresy. Please people, try to actually look at the situation on the ground. There is nothing new in this display of overblown rhetoric, move along. Iran is as likely to nuke Israel as the US is. And if you want to worry about an Islamic state somehow letting nuclear technology get in the hands of an enemy of Israel, worry about Pakistan. Meanwhile, the only country in the actual Middle East with nuclear weapons and one that is not a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty is Israel. The fact that Israel does not allow inspection of its facilities and does not sign the treaty gives plenty of amunition to its enemies to cry hypocrisy.

  • Leila, that was a fair comment. Please take my disagreement with you in a positive way and not as an attack on you.

    Just because the rhetoric has been consistent all these years (as we constantly point out with respect to many of Israel’s enemies) that Israel should be destroyed, doesn’t mean that it isn’t newsworthy or worthy of our attention.

    After all, when the newly elected hard-line Iranian president publicly states that Israel should be destroyed at a time when his country is on the verge of developing nuclear capability, shouldn’t we all care?

    That Jews live in Iran is wonderful, and it is even more wonderful if they live there in peace and equal footing with their Muslim neighbors. There are sources that say only 11,000 Jews remain there (World Jewish Congress), although it seems that as recently as 1999, the Iranians were saying about 25,000.


    The Islamization of the country has brought about strict control over Jewish educational institutions. Before the revolution, there were some 20 Jewish schools functioning throughout the country. In recent years, most of these have been closed down. In the remaining schools, Jewish principals have been replaced by Muslims. In Teheran there are still three schools in which Jewish pupils constitute a majority. The curriculum is Islamic, and Persian is forbidden as the language of instruction for Jewish studies. Special Hebrew lessons are conducted on Fridays by the Orthodox Otzar ha-Torah organization, which is responsible for Jewish religious education. Saturday is no longer officially recognized as the Jewish sabbath, and Jewish pupils are compelled to attend school on that day. There are three synagogues in Teheran, but since 1994, there has been no rabbi in Iran, and the bet din does not function. 4

    The sources for that quote from the Jewish Virtual Library are the World Jewish Congress and the U.S. State Department Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997. The Jewish Virtual Library, citing the U.S. State Department Report on Human Rights Practices, also claims families cannot emigrate (or at least not without encountering severe difficultied) from Iran under normal circumstances.

    I happen to agree with your last point about Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal in that it opens the door to criticism and to charges of hypocrisy. Yet, there are a couple of crucial differences. Namely, Israel has a total population of 6,500,000 and has never indicated that they would like to wipe any state off the map. Iran has 70,000,000 people and has now stated its intention to wipe Israel off the map. Needless to say, there are hundreds of millions of other Arabs and Muslims in numerous countries who may not have been quoted in the paper, but agree with the sentiments expressed by Ahmadinejad.

    So it’s true that many of us already know that this isn’t news, it seems to be worthwhile to bring this news to the attention of the multitudes out there who think Israel is the aggressor in this conflict, or that the Israelis are somehow responsible for their paranoia with respect to defending themselves.

  • This 2004 report from the US State Dept is still using the estimates 20,000 to 30,000. It also has remarks on difficulties about emigrating, although other sources note that emigration has been speeding up in recent years since the spy trials.


    I still do believe we should pay more attention to what happens to the community and less to the rhetoric. Also, the notion that Iran would use a nuclear weapon to attack a state armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons makes little sense.

    This is a small point, but I am not quite sure why you say “alleged” nuclear arsenal about Israel. These aren’t Iraqi WMDs we are talking about. It is one of the openest secrets in the Middle East. I would recommend a very good book by an Israeli scholar on the history of the nuclear-weapons program, including intriguing info on France’s early role decades ago:

    Israel and the Bomb, by Avner Cohen (Columbia University Press).

  • I find it hilarious that anyone (thesiod) in their right mind could defend or try to somehow legitimize the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that’s why Ahmadinejad so aptly defends the IRI, he is INSANE. The whole lot is insane, I wish you all could see the friday night message from Khamein’ei on Iranian televesion its just bizarre….He will go on a massive rant about America impeding economic growth and attacking Islam and then the whole crowd will chant “Margh bar amrika! Margh bar yesrail!” Death to America! Death to Israel! You think what Ahmadinejad said was not something he says every week? Ha!

    Also, just a note, if you equate the Persian empire with the IRI you are out of your mind. The IRI is such an aberration of persian culture and tradition, ugh it makes me sick.

  • “And no, we’re not descendants of the Persian people. We’re Semites.”

    You took the words right from my keyboard. That goes for the rest of your comment, also. Nicely put!

  • Just would note that Semite is a linguistic category, referring to a group of languages. In that case sure, no link, since Farsi is at core an Indo-European language that just got a lot of Semitic, ie. Arabic, loan words and the alphabet after the Muslim conquest.

    That said, I kind of find the racial talk of descendents a little troubling. The ME is an area of constant intermixing and has always been that way. But great if you want to recognize the other Semites as cousins, ie. the Arabs.

  • Leila, I used “alleged” not because I care so much whether they do or do not have a nuclear arsenal, but rather because I don’t believe anybody really knows outside some select individuals. It is in Israel’s interest to promote the idea that they possess an arsenal of nukes, whether they have them or not.

    If you recall, there was irrefutable evidence that Saddam also had weapons of mass destruction. 😉

  • Oh, one more thing. Your point about the logic of Iran attacking a country already armed with nukes is somewhat refuted by the entire concept of suicide bombing. These bombers realize they’re going to die, but they perceive the greater (usually religious but sometimes ideological) goal to be far more pressing than their individual existence. Many historians believe that Egypt and Syria attacked in 1973 without expectations of winning the war, but rather in an attempt to appease the home crowd demanding redress for 1967’s humiliations, and more important, to affect change in the diplomatic morass which prevented any forward movement that addressed their intended goals. Would Iran as a state act in a suicidal fashion in the event they believe it would make Jewish land Muslim again? Unlikely. But not entirely impossible.

  • Leila, I don’t think your comments are very fair at all. In fact, I think they’re garbage.

    You wrote: “Ok, I’m confused. Every year there is a Jerusalem Day in Iran. Every year the rhetoric is the same. If you can’t see that this year’s obnoxious rhetoric is suddenly being discovered and exploited for ulterior geopolitical motives, you are being deliberately obtuse.”

    Excuse me? Someone is being “deliberately obtuse” because they don’t buy the BS line that someone is “exploiting” the words of the President of Iran by accurately quoting a speech he gave at what amounts to a hate/genocide convention?

    What does the fact that this occurs every year have to do with anything? Does that somehow make it okay? And please enlighten me, to what “ulterior geopolitical motives” are you referring? Let me guess, this is another step in the (Zionist? neo-conservative? Raelian?) plot to discredit the good men of Iran’s political/religious leadership?

    I have a question: is ANY leader from ANY country in the middle east- besides Israel, of course- EVER responsible for ANYTHING they do or say? Or is it always part of the Grand Conspiracy to make radical fundamentalist Islamic crazies look bad?

    Leila wrote:
    “Iran has the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel. Some estimates are as high as 30,000 people.”

    Okay, and so the hell what? nazi germany also had a sizeable Jewish population in 1939….your point being???

    Leila wrote:
    “If President Difficult Name was doing anything more than the usual rhetorical flourish, I think we would be hearing about pogroms against that community. After all, why not start at home? While discrimination exists and there have been fraudulent spy trials, the Jews in Iran are actually better off than other minorities who are detested by the regime, like the Bahais. Because Jews are people of the book and Bahaism is a heresy.”

    Wow, you really like to circle the point, don’t you? What in the hell does anything you’re talking about have to do with the President of Iran calling for Israel’s eradication, with the visible support of thousands of his citizens and fellow pan-Islamists, and the tacit and implicit support of probably millions more?

    So it would be okay for, say, the President of the US or France to call for the annihilation of Israel as long as there’s another group they seem to hate more?

    Why are you trying to get this worm off the hook?

    Leila wrote:
    “Please people, try to actually look at the situation on the ground. There is nothing new in this display of overblown rhetoric, move along.”

    What a bunch of crap. No, I won’t “move along” just because you have become acculturated to institutionalized hate-speech from national leader(s) in the middle-east. Your defeatist, self-hating rhetoric is based on non-sequiturs and red herrings galore, and “the situation on the ground” is that the President of Iran is leading a “Kill the Jews” conference in the middle of an increasingly hostile region of the world which has the potential- as institutionalized hate speech and religious/ethnic persecution ALWAYS does, by the way, whether you think it’s “old news” or not- to blow up into a huge global conflagration ending in utter disaster not just for Israel but for a large portion of the world.

    You might want to re-examine the smug assuredness of your self-perceived mastery of on-the-ground “political reality” and instead try looking at things from a true historical perspective: There is NEVER any context, reason or time in which it is acceptable or “boring” for a political leader to spew this kind of speech, no matter who it’s coming from or how many times they’ve already said it. It is ALWAYS abhorrent and always deserves to be UNEQUIVOCALLY denounced.

  • I will have to respond in greater length after work, but 1. I never said not to denounce the speech. It should be denounced. Just like one’s Uncle’s racist speech at the Thanksgiving table. Bigotry of any sort should always be denounced. I just suggested that it is rhetoric set in a particular context and has no implications for action. 2. I brought up the size of the Jewish community there for two reasons. One, is that there situation in the face of such rhetoric continues to be status quo, ie. uneasy, but not threatened with attacks/pogroms etc. Also, while many many have emigrated in recent years, there is something to be looked at when the *largest* Jewish community in the Middle East exists in a country Israel characterizes as its greatest enemy, bar none. Anyway, work beckons. I will answer more of your scatalogically toned post later if I may.

  • Themiddle, if you really believe there is an actual question about whether or not Israel has nuclear weapons, despite all the academic scholarship to the contrary, then there’s this bridge in Brooklyn….. 🙂 I would never quibble with an “alleged” when it something really is in doubt. This one just seemed disingenous. After all, Mordecai Vanunu went to prison for nearly two decades for something right? Anyway, read Avner Cohen. The stuff about France helping Israel build its earliest nuclear programs is fascinating given the Arabist stance of France today.

  • PS: And yes, I know Vanunu is a repellant lunatic in all sorts of other ways. But this issue of a nuclear arsenal is not, emphatically not, in dispute by anyone in the academic or foreign policy community. The don’t ask, don’t tell is ludicrous.

  • If Iran nukes Israel, they would have to nuke the Arabs as well, probably destroy Jerusalem and poison the land for hundreds of years. Even if they are willing to do a “suicide bombing” on a national level and if they are doing this ostensibly for the benefit of the Palestinians and Islam, it seems like a Phyrric victory.

  • Exactly. And despite the rather flamboyant martyristic emotion of Shiite Islam, the self-flagellation during Ashura etc., I haven’t seen any indication of Farsi-speaking suicide bombers. The Iranians are very pragmatic. They have never, ever taken on, in a military sense, the Middle East’s most developed army and its only nuclear power. And they won’t. Even backing Hezbollah in Lebanon has more to do with shoring up the growing Shiite community in that intensely sectarian country than being a serious strike against Israel.

    The nuclear threat in the Middle East is from the fabled “rogue elements.” I don’t see Iran, Israel, or any other nation-state playing that option. And as for the rogues, they may just as easily buy their material and get help from disgruntled Russian scientists no longer able to put borsht on the table in the post-Soviet era.

  • Leila: Your comments about Iran’s dwindling Jewish population are as convincing as the former USSR’s statements about the lack of Antisemitism in their society. They reasoned that if the Jews were suffering from Antisemitism, why do they not want to leave? Of course, this was utter baloney. They had no voice to protest, and no freedom to leave. This is as ridiculous is your belief that the Jews of Iran are living in peace and harmony. If they had the chance, they would emigrate en-masse to Israel and Los Angeles.

  • I never said they were living in peace and harmony. For you to use those words as “your belief” is really reprehensible, not to mention lazy arguing, when I made it clear how they live. And tens of thousands have emigrated. Look at the statistics. But if you actually read their own words on the matter, some prefer to stay in the country that is home and has very very deep roots in Jewish history. To compare their situation vis a vis immigration to what was the case with Soviet Jewry being totally unable to leave is to totally insult the latter group.

    What is interesting to me is that despite the rhetoric of the Iranian regime, they are not attacking their local Jewish population. Thank God. You don’t seem to be willing to see any nuance here, or to even pay attention to some ordinary Jews from there (not their co-opted leaders) say about reasons they stay or go. It appears if it doesn’t fit into your scenario about where Jews feel they want to live, it must not be true.

    But is this a surprise? A week and a half ago I saw a screening of two parts of a documentary by Haim Yavin, described as Israel’s “Walter Cronkite,” about the settler movement. Yavin was there. He is by no means a man of Left. He is no Gideon Levy in terms of journalists. He kind of winced at some things the Americans for Peace Now person was saying. He opposes refuseniks and doesn’t rail against settlers as individuals and shows sympathy for them in that same way. But he lamented on stage the tendency of American Jews to be far more recalcitrant than the majority of Israelis often are and to back whatever policies and paranoid rhetoric is the flavor of the current government.

  • I’m always willing to look at bridges. I also still say “alleged.”

    I have no idea why Vanunu went to prison. It was foolish of the Israelis to punish him as harshly as they did when they could have simply dismissed him as a loonie and moved on. Every reminder of their supposed nuclear arsenal provides further deterrence.

    My point with respect to suicide bombings and the ’73 War is that people and states do not always act logically. Theoretically, nothing might come out of the public pronouncements of the new President. On the other hand, I remember when one of Salman Rushdie’s translators was murdered because of the fatwa on Rushdie and his book.

    But Leila, since you are essentially on the side of dismissing this speech, why do you think he made it?

  • Leila: Did you make it clear how they live? You were using them as a rhetorical device to sing the praises of the moderate and progressive Iranian regime. Those ayatollahs can’t be that bad, they’re not killing Jews! All of a sudden, a lack of pogroms (or, perhaps more appropriately termed ‘farhuds’) becomes something of merit! Leila, should one feel good about themselves for all the people they didn’t kill? Don’t be silly. Injustice is injustice, please don’t sugar-coat it with socratic relativism (Grandmuffti, please feel free to correct my amateurish pretensions to philosophical references).

    Yes, the Iranian Jewish community is an ancient one; I believe from around the time of the second Temple? Yet the Babylonian Jewish community was ancient, too. And they left when they had the chance. If Jews in Iran are not allowed to observe Shabbat, and they have no rabbis, how long are they going to survive as Jews? Perhaps that doesn’t fit into your scenario about how Jews should live? You know, as Jews?

    And I hate to break it to you, but by and large the American Jewish community stands behind the government of Israel, whether Likud or Labor. There are differences on policy details, but please don’t make it out to be that American Jews are all Likudniks.

  • TM: If every reminder of their supposed-alleged nuclear arsenal provides further deterrence, then there was nothing smarter than their throwing the book (and the Mossad) at Vanunu. That created a maelstrom of attention about Israel’s (supposed-alleged) nuclear program that has persisted for years.

  • taltman, i never once called Iran’s government “moderate and progressive.” Are you incapable of disagreeing with a person without putting words in her mouth? Damn me with my own vocabulary if you don’t mind.

    I will try to find some of the sources I remember that give a picture of everyday life for Jews in Iran. So “to come” for that. Some may be ethnographic, some journalistic. Hope that’s ok.

    I don’t see all American Jews as Likudniks and again, I never said so. Haim Yavin’s point at the screening I went to of part of Land of the Settlers was that too many American Jews are nervous about not criticizing the Israeli government no matter who it is or what it does so as not appear disloyal. Not all American Jews, but too many. He was urging a Washington DC auditorium full of mostly American Jews (some Israelis) to not be such pushovers. The topic was settlements. Like I said, Yavin is definitely not a man of the Left. You should hear him diss Gideon Levy for example, altho I guess most diss Levy, poor man. Yavin is a centrist saying what I just said and what you just distorted. The issue is standing behind any government’s policies with too uncritical a stance. His settler subjects themselves point out in the documentary how Labor was actually the best friend settlers ever had in terms of setting up the system.

    I highly recommend the film. You can read about it at the Americans for Peace Now website.

  • To shore up his base? Seriously, themiddle, or may I call you Le Moyen, again how is this new? Haven’t other Iranian leaders, Ayatollah Khomeini most prominently, said the same sort of things about Israel? Year in and year out since the revolution in 1979? They have said them despite pleas from mainstream Palestinian leaders to shut up already. Plus there is the ritual of this annual Jerusalem Day event in recent years. Iran is nothing if not a ritualistic society.

    But if you are really asking why did he say this at a time when the US is putting pressure and when it would alienate Europeans etc. who are trying to open Iran more to the world, I can only speculate.

    Basically, if he had decided not to say at the meeting what Iranian leaders say every year around Jerusalem Day, that might have hurt him considering that Israel’s biggest backer is currently at war in the region. Perhaps he naively thought it wouldn’t be picked up by the world media since it is commonplace rhetoric? That obviously isn’t true since he is the new guy in office. He is not a member of the Iranian elite by birth, he was portrayed during the Iranian elections as a man of the people who came in to quash corruption by the elite. Like the previous Iranian president, his power is very constrained by the Mullahs. Maybe it was pride. Ie. we are not going to change our habitual rhetoric just because of the West and especially not when the West is pressuring us. He talked about being against the World of Arrogance in his speech, ie. the West. He talked about imagining a world without *both* America and Israel. Somehow I don’t think Americans need to be watching the skies. At least not for Iran. The question is, do Israelis?

    Let me be clear, I don’t have any doubt that Iran wants nuclear weapons and wants to use their *possession* to be a regional power as befitting its size and importance. But as I read in one news analysis, maybe this is to be a Shiite bomb in relation to Pakistan’s Sunni bomb. It is a status symbol and a deterrent in the same way Pakistan’s bomb is to India’s bomb. There is nothing about having a bomb that makes a state use it as we know from even the more volatile newer members of the nuclear community. The costs are too high. It is not as though only democracies have had bombs. Are you really so quick to dismiss the doctrine of mutually assured destruction in effect during the cold war just because we are talking about bombs in a hotter, dustier place?

    I agree, states don’t always act logically. But I need to be persuaded by evidence more than rhetoric that Iran has any interest at all in attacking Israel. How is it in their interest when they would be immediately wiped off the map themselves? How often do states not act in their interest? No love lost between Pakistan and India, but Pakistan would be nuts to use a nuclear weapon against its neighboring nuclear power.

    In my opinion, the most worrisome Islamic radicals these days are actually Sunni, not Shiite, ie. Al Queda and its fellow travelers. They are truly loose cannons with a global vision, and yet they haven’t focused on Israel either. I think Al Queda just uses the Palestinians as an excuse in its rhetoric. It has bigger fish to fry. Being in DC, I feel the pan threaten to get hot often.

    I will say that whatever he really meant in terms of action, President Difficult Name has violated the terms of the UN Charter and should be censured for that. I certainly don’t advocate throwing Iran out of the only global organization we have. That could only make things worse and on principle however inadequate the UN is, it is a vital institution.

    I have a question for you, themiddle, should Israel try to take out Iran’s nuclear program even if it is not centered in one reactor the way Iraq’s was in 1981 when Osiraq was bombed?
    Ie. would you bomb multiple places throughout Iran? I am asking in good faith. What’s best for the Jews?

    Finally, if you have a fetish for the Haredi as is stated here in your blog bio, how come you don’t start a thread about Ushpizin (just released in the US) so I can comment on movies, my true love even more than politics? Hum? If you haven’t seen it yet, you must.

  • Leila, I no longer have any clue what your point is with this broad, meandering talk and armchair political speculation. This is a rather narrow topic as far as I’m concerned and I think it’s kind of ironic that you initially dismissed any attempt to give attention to this issue before promptly using it as a springboard to launch into some rambling didactic dissertation on the entire middle east and the efficacy of the UN as a global institution (?!).

    This thread is about one thing as far as I’m concerned. I’ll run through the sequence of correspondence again in case you’ve forgotten by now:

    1. The president of Iran gave a speech calling for the annihilation of Israel and all “Zionists”.

    2. People on this weblog condemned the speech.

    3. You declared that the speech should be ignored and imply that anyone who even talks about it is being “deliberately obtuse”.

    Now at this point in time you’ve posted so many words on so many different subjects in this one thread that I’m not even sure what you’re talking about anymore. But once again I will repeat: I don’t care how many times it’s said, when the elected leader of a large nation- especially one in the process of trying to develop nuclear technology- makes statements such as this it is NEVER “boring” or “old news”.

    This kind of crap should be on the headline of every paper in the world as far as I’m concerned, every single time someone makes these kind of ignorant comments.

    When a political leader calls for genocide it is an issue which deserves publicity and condemnation every single time, no matter what.

    Perhaps you’re too worldly to pay heed to such seemingly-insignificant events as this, but in fact it is “minor” speeches like this which conglomerate into institutionalized rhetoric and eventually into massive undercurrents of hate and persecution. Again, I hate to use this well-worn example, but people dismissed speeches like this emanating from Germany in the 1930’s as well. Some of the disbelievers probably said just as you are saying right now “Well they have the largest Jewish population in Europe, if there was anything bad happening I’m sure we’d know”. I think it is very sad that the motto for some seems to have gone from “Never again” to “Oh it’s just this again”. This kind of garbage is never acceptable from anybody, and when Islamic (or Nazi, or Hutu, or whatever) meatheads spew this kind of verbal diarrhea they need to be called to account by the entire world by every major media outlet, as far as I’m concerned.

  • MyMona, I guess i have to get used to my words being misrespresented here, and you have done it again. My reference to “deliberately obtuse” had nothing to do with people on this blog paying attention to this issue. Maybe you could reread what I wrote. I was suggesting only, and perhaps with too harsh phrasing, that violent ideas that have been uttered by every single Iranian leader since the revolution have been given special import now because of geopolitical considerations. This year, the usual rhetoric is somehow being considered in a more serious way than it has before and I was expressing my opinion as to why.

    I am not sure why you choose to quote someone and ignore context and meaning, but you do. I also made it clear that the president should be denounced and said that all such racist speech should be denounced. I assume you would agree with that whether it is an Iranian talking about wiping Israel off the map or an Israeli talking about transfer.

    You are right about one thing. I definitely introduced too many other topics and I rambled. I apologize for that. I am a newbie here and I guess I didn’t realize all threads have to stay strictly on topic. Thank you for bring it to my attention.

  • Leila, there are no rules here, and as far as I can tell, MyMona is an even later-comer than you. You’ve held your own well and represented your points effectively. If the environment gets a bit hostile or harsh, it’s because we get a lot of people who, uh, care.

  • Well hell, don’t I feel like the big meanie now…

    Leila, I apologize. I didn’t mean to come off as purely confrontational. I tried to make a point of only criticizing you on a dialectic level and not personally.

    You initially posted directly after my response to the (obviously hostile) Thesiod and used the subject-marker “you” to address your post. I don’t think it was entirely unreasonable for me to assume that you were directing your comments at least partially to me.

    I’ll admit I probably over-reacted, but I went with my instinct….I mean hell, “if you can’t bad-mouth the president of Iran on a Jewish weblog, what’s the use anymore?”.

    Ironically, your status as a “newbie” was the farthest thing from my mind. As themiddle said, I’m probably the newest of the new here. I’ve been lurking on the site for a couple weeks and only started posting a few days ago (FrumUndaMentalist aka dizzy molestme aka MyMonaDeezNutz etc etc); part of the reason i was so brash towards you was because I figured that you were a regular on here and would shrug it off. Imagine my dismay at now finding myself playing the overbearing asshole to your genteel demureness.

    Anyhow, please take no personal offense. I like your style and would be happy to ramble along with you on the state o’ the world (I also love to talk politics but nobody in “real life” will ever play Armchair Pundit with me), but this format is just too cumbersome for point-by-point debate. Not to mention I’m too computer-illiterate to utilize even rudimentary code for things like italics and bold print.

    So again, sorry to get all soap-boxy on you- keep up the good fight and I hope we meet again on a lighter note.

  • “Just would note that Semite is a linguistic category, referring to a group of languages.”

    Leila, in this context ‘Semite’ has ethnic connotations. The term literally refers to a descendant of Shem. Linguists adopted it to define a group of Afro-Asiatic languages.

    Thesoid seems to subscribe to some kind of weird pan-IE (er, ‘Aryan’) ideology. That stuff is obviously bunk, but becomes especially so when one tries to include Semites among the “descendants” of the Persians. It’s a little contradictory.

  • Cyh, point noted. I do just worry about ethnic designations in a region rife with mixing since ancient times.

  • Ethereal, my “you” in my initial post was generic. Yes, I am not a regular. I posted maybe a month or so ago when I first discovered this blog, and again now. I have a sneaking suspicion my politics are in the tiny minority here. Ok, i’m pretty sure, no suspicion involved. I also had no idea you were the typist behind more than one name. In any case, I just prefer to be challenged on what I actually say in a post. I have no doubt I give ample amnunition with that. As you put it, let the armchair punditry go on.

  • Funny…she worries about ethnic designations, but not about genocidal rhetoric issuing forth from the theocratic loony bin over there in Persia.

  • Michael, i am appalled by genocidal rhetoric issuing from that theocratic loony bin in Iran as you put it just like I worry about ethnic- cleansing and genocidal rhetoric issuing from the theocratic loonies of the Israeli settler movement, and I have heard plenty. But if you mean by “worry” that I think the Iranian rhetoric is more than rhetoric, that it is an explicit plan of action to go to war with current conventional weapons or future nonconventional weapons. You are right. I am not worried. I guess I am willing to look historically at what actions that *particular* country, Iran, has actually taken or is likely to take. Frankly while I think Israel is a major priority for Iranian leaders on the rhetorical side, I don’t see it as much of a priority on the practical military side in the sense I outlined above.

    And if I “worry” about ethnic designations in the Middle East it is because talk of gene lines and descent do trouble me in a political context. To a large degree race and ethncity are constructed categories. Inclusion and exclusion often have less to do with any biological or historical reality than with politics. But I probably nitpicked since Semite in most people’s *colloquial* speech has a very narrow meaning indeed, excluding even the largest group of Semites in the world. And colloquial speech is in a sense what matters in forums like this.

  • Okay, you see, your attempt at equivalency fails because loony Israeli settlers are a small fringe among a small people in a small land, whereas loony Muslims, y’know, rule several countries and seem to have their eyes on at least a few more.

    As far as ethnic designations, you’re not even making sense. Nobody has ever argued that Arabs are not Semites. Everybody accepts that, even those wacky settlers. Yes, the term “anti-Semitism” refers specifically to anti-Jewish hatred, but that’s just one of those linguistic quirks that you’re going to have to live with. Unless you’re one of those people who try to deflect discussing Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism by saying “Arabs can’t be anti-Semitic, they’re Semites too!” That’s just lame.

  • I am not one of “those people” as you put it. That should be clear since I noted the importance of colloquial language and would never claim that since technically Arabs are Semites they can’t be anti-Semitic in the generally accepted sense of that term. Although I do think that it is ahistorical to overlap Christian European anti-Semitism with attitudes (positive and negative) toward Jews in Muslim countries except for modern times when that horrific tradition from Europe has been borrowed. I also never once mentioned the term “anti-Semitism” in this discussion, despite your implication that I did. It has a much more recent history than Semite and a very different one. I only talked about Semite as a designation for a people. Chalk it up to being an old anthro major. We learn to be careful with such as racial/ethnic terminology.

    I would have to disagree with you that loony settlers are a small fringe in Israel, at least in terms of power. Haim Yavin’s documentary about the settlers and their impact on policymaking over the decades since the early 1970s reinforced what I already believed. About the Muslims, in your post you only mentioned those in Iran. So now making the argument that my equivalency is incredibly unbalanced because one is a small fringe and one rules many countries is dishonest arguing and again a misrepresentation since you changed horses in mid-race. Iran is one country, and a big one yes. But Israel has the most powerful military in the Middle East, the most powerful backer in teh Middle East, and is a nuclear power. I was only talking about those two countries. In any case, I was also just expressing my distaste for genocidal and/or ethnic-cleansing rhetoric on both sides. Frankly while I don’t think (and certainly don’t hope) that “transfer” is a probability as yet, I think in absolute terms, it is a far more likely scenario than the nation-state of Iran attacking Israel with a future nuclear weapon or with its conventional armies in an all out war.

  • RE: Haim Yavin, and documentary filmmakers in general, there is a phrase in the film industry that goes something like “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”.
    In general we pick the things we want to believe first and then find the supporting evidence to back it up. Just be careful there.

    Think about it, if settlers really have so much impact on policy making then it seems they woulda used all their ammo to avoid disengagement. Don’t you think?

    By the way, have you ever spent a significant amount of time in the West Bank?

    I also have to disagree fully with your equivalency and reasoning, for the record.

  • Happen to have not seen it, but I have spent a very decent amount of time in many parts of the West Bank, and lived in Hevron for a month. I’ve talked eaten and spent time with many many settlers both crazy (and I mean crazy) and sane and a lot some where in between, and it is largely from those experiences that I draw my opinions of who settlers are, if that’s what you were getting at.

    I know Mr. Yavin went in there with an agenda, and I believe he found what he was looking for. Granted, he didnt have to look too hard, but we both know what a filmmaker films and how they edit it can paint two very different pictures.

    Perhaps you disagree with what i’ve said?

  • I’m not sure there was anything with which to disagree. You haven’t seen the film, and I understand the natural instinct to protect the settlers from an attack.

    I haven’t seen the film either. The version mentioned in this discussion, I believe, is a shortened version for the international market. In either case, Yavin isn’t some wacky peacenik, and he also isn’t a young man likely to shoot off from the hip. He’s an intelligent, seasoned, wise journalist who has been covering the news in Israel for decades. He’s also an ardent Zionist.

    He says the following:

    “I don’t blame the settlers,” he tells The Jewish Week, “I blame the situation. The Gemara has a saying that not the mouse is the thief, but the hole. It’s a situation that invites us to be oppressors, and we, by nature, are not.”

    “I don’t hate settlers,” he adds. “I appreciate them for their idealism. But I think they’re wrong, and I think they’re putting us all in danger.”

    To drive his point across even further, he makes the following statement: He, too, is a settler, having emigrated with his family from his native Germany in 1933. He arrived, he says, to a land that wasn’t vacant, nevertheless convinced of the Jews’ right to a state of their own. But, he adds, the Zionism of his youth — “practical Zionism,” as he calls it — sought to find workable solutions to the nascent country’s many challenges. In contrast, he says, the Zionism of the settlers is a “messianic Zionism that thinks God gave us a land,” a Zionism unremitting and often blind to the suffering and rightful claims of the Palestinians.

    “The real story,” he says, “is the nature of Zionism, which we must redefine. We can’t just go on defining Zionism as taking another hill or struggling for another settlement bloc.”

    At a time when the settlement movement has segments of its population that have become very hostile to the state and the IDF, it’s important that people document what is happening and expose it. The other day, a senior IDF officer AND HIS FAMILY were shouted down, had things thrown at them and generally forced away from the Kotel (Western Wall) by people affiliated with the settlement movement. Can you imagine? This happened because this general was a part of the senior IDF ranks that implemented the Gaza pullout. Legally. Democratically. This general belonged to the same military that sends Israel’s young men and women into dangerous situations to protect these settlers.

    While recognizing that many settlers are good people with fine intentions, we must also be aware of those elements in the movement that have rotted. If we don’t expose them and root them out, they will continue to rot. Enough rot of a few roots and the entire tree could die. No?

  • Laya, I wasn’t basing my comments only on the very freely given settler commentary in the Yavin film. Plus, I didn’t say settlers had all the power, just more than Michael suggested. About disengagement, well this is an Iran thread I’ve been informed. But suffice it to say I think the Israeli government made a cost-benefit decision on Gaza that had little to do with Palestinian aspirations and everything to do with future West Bank policy vis a vis that other vastly larger group of settlers.

    I have visited the West Bank, but not the settlers. However, I certainly have read a lot of their points of view, both from information they produce themselves and information produced by their opponents. I assume you don’t mean to suggest that not having been on the ground with them means one can’t come to an opinion? I have never been in post-revolutionary Iran either, but I dare say I can venture some comments on the wretched political ideology of the state.

    About the equivalency issue. I don’t make absolute equivalents. I just want to be consistent and say I don’t approve of talk of ethnic cleansing or genocide from any party. Not a nation-state and not settlers or others armed to the teeth and more than willing to implement policy on a body-by-body basis.

  • themiddle, the version I saw was not the 30 minute highlight compilation, but the first two full episodes of the five part (night?) series. I think they were an hour each, but I was so entranced, they may have been longer. Being a cinematic purist, if not a purist in other ways, I asked the Americans for Peace Now guy why they were just showing that much. He said when the screening had been arranged, only the first two episodes had been subtitled. They might go on to have screenings of the rest, he said, since it is now available. He did say the 30-minute version was one they were screening that same week on Capitol Hill.

    I will definitely be seeing the whole thing since an Israeli friend of mine who’s an academic has has ordered the set. I would agree with your characterization of Yavin as an ardent Zionist and would argue that if Laya thinks he has an agenda, it is an ardent Zionistic one.

  • Leila, I’ve heard all about the oil-for-food scandal too.Nobody denies that the most ancient books and artifacts found in or near Israel point to that of a Jewish occupancy.

    When the Jewish state was created, the gaza strip was an unoccupied barren waste land, along with the vast majority of Israel. Jew’s turned it into a bustling place for business before and after the state was created.

    Mark Twain wrote about it “empty, barren” were words he chose. Arab conquest came and went. The ottomans had it for about 300 years, but they are not Arabs. Maybe the Turk’s have rightful claim, they did own if for a long time?

    The Jew’s made Israel the place it is today. Palestinians have been the aggressors. Israel had the option of wiping them all out back in the 70’s. They took out all of Egypts aircraft and the rest of the Arabic forces. Instead of killing them all, they let them live and backed off. (who started that war?) Egypt began mobilzing troops along Israel’s border and closed of the Straits of Teran, cutting of Israeli shipping. IT was an act of aggression. They were asking to be hit, as was the plan, and Isreal did just that, and knocked the shxt out of them.

    By the end of the 6 day war, Israel claimed the Gaza strip and some other land as their own, and why not? THey need to make some pay back for being attacked. The arab countires got beat (started it too) and cried to the world that their land was stolen.

    THey should be thankful that the Israelis did not finish the job.

    Do you think the palestinans would ever show that mercy?

    The leader of Iran is a complete tool. He doesn’t reflect the opinions of Iranians. Bumrushing Iran and bombing it doesn’t help anyone except increasing the revenues of Haliburton and Raytheon. Boy bombing Iraq sure taught ‘them’ huh?

    Why not support the people of Iran? Instead of demonizing Iran repeatedly and helping their hardline clerics justify the enemy, why not appease to everyone’s natural human conditions of greed. Do you think the mullah’s give a sh*t about nationalism? Don’t you think we could reach a settlement where we buy everyone off and tell them to fuck off?

    The result of this statement should be public condemnation.

  • middle, i meant to ask if you disagreed with the statements about the nature of film making and belief etc.
    Leila, filmmakers chose what to leave in and what to take out. The settler commentary’s he got are real, and I will never deny the existences of total loons. I’ve met far too many. Certainly you are free to have any opinion you want, but I would caution you against painting all settlers with one broad brush, based on a documentary and some articles. The people who aren’t writing articles about it and aren’t posing for the cameras are more often than not the more normal ones who are just leading their lives and raising their kids and believe in a different vision of Israel. Nature of the beast.
    Also, Zionism is a many splendored thing these days, and takes many forms. How are we going to define it? The love of Zion? The ferverent desire to see peace in Zion? The fulfilment of the Jewish dream to live in Zion? I consider settlers to be Zionists. I consider Yavin to be a Zionist as well. Can they both be right? Sure. We learn that Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai were actually both correct. But at the end of the day, we can only hold by one.

  • Wow Jobber, oil for food scandal? how did that come up? Because the UN was mentioned briefly in the context of not kicking Iran out?

    Your comment doesn’t seem to be in relation to anything I or anyone else said here. Just a one-siz-fits-all “a people without a land for a land-without-a-people” and Six-Day War thing. The only thing I said about Gaza was the withdrawl decision was made on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis by the Israeli state for their own interests. Nothing unusual about that. States do it all the time. Also did I or anyone else here suggest we shouldn’t support the Iranian people against its theocracy? Were you actually reading any of the posts at all? The only point bombing Iran was mentioned is when I asked middle if that is what he thought Israel should do, as it did in 1981 with the Iraqi reactor. I think from everything I said I would have made it clear that I would not approve of that. After all I had just spent too many words saying I didn’t think they were a nuclear threat. Jeez.

  • Laya, just want to assure you that there are settlers in Yavin’s film who are the more reasonable types you mention. I guess Yavin still finds their presence counterproductive, as do I. But just wanted to make sure you knew he does by no means only interview those frothing at the mouth. And Yavin chides an Israeli Peace Nownik in the film for refusing to enter a settler’s home for coffee, etc. He has no problem with civility no matter what the context. He is kind of old school. That showed in person as well.

  • PS: Laya, I don’t disagree with you that documentary filmmaking isn’t selective or that editing doesn’t have an impact. But that is true about every single form of human communication isn’t it? Unless you believe that when most people speak, especially to tell their stories or political points of view, that they aren’t crafting their words ever and are simply reporting like a machine that absorbs all and transmitts all. Film is just a reflection of normal human practice. That is why, again, I have relied on many sources for my worries about things.

  • Stumbled on this site… looking for info on Lamb And Lynx Gaede through google (neo-nazi’s in 2007.. wtf??) … anyways…

    I thought, when reading this post, that someone who could write relatively well could have a brain to rely upon and maybe, just maybe, a well informed and open minded perspective of the world. Well I was wrong.

    You probably wish I could write an anti-jew remark here, or maybe blame the “zionists” for all the trouble in the world… but it won’t happen, it would make you too happy… you would grab such an occasion to discredit what I’m saying an using this as a foundation for your arguments, as you did in your post.

    Your comment was lame. Iran’s got every rights for a nuclear arsenal, like Israel. Does Iran have nuclear power or plans to? Probably not, yet, the American government and Media Corporations are saying this is the case (although CIA’s reports clearly proved Iran’s would not be able to produce nuclear weapons until at least 2010.)

    Take a look at this article. (http://www.albionmonitor.com/0605a/iranmisquote.html) Swallow your pride and snobism, and look for the truth. This article fully explains what Iran’s president actually said, how he said it and it what particular context.

    Have a good day,

    (Just to piss you off… since I know you’re such crybabies –> Long live Norman G. Finklestein… at least his name isn’t as hard to remember as Ahmadinejad’s)

  • Yeah Mobe, thanks. We are going to jump up for joy when we read a Counterpunch writer quoting Juan Cole. 🙄

    Anyway, long after Cole made his erroneous translation of what Ahmadinejad said, the Iranian president repeated his call in different ways and at different times:




    and best of all: Al Jazeera. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/archive/archive?ArchiveId=15878

    Do you suppose they speak the language better than Juan Cole?

  • Wow, I wasn’t expecting a response…

    About the “counterpunch” writer “quoting” Juan Cole, that’s my mistake. I should’ve gotten a better source. I

    thought that maybe a “counterpunch” writer who could vulgarize the situation would help you better understand…

    Well, to make up for my mistake, here are two other links, one from Slate and the other from Juan Cole’s own



    As far as the “erroneous translation” goes… I can’t convince myself you trully believe all the BS you write…

    (simply read the articles and maybe, if you’ve got time, do some research on Juan Cole to see how much more

    experience he’s got on the subject than you and I and 99.99% of the journalists who wrote/said anything about

    Ahmadinejad’s comments.)

    Anyways… I read the articles you posted …

    As far as the Washington Post goes, I guess it’s fine. But you can’t expect J Newswire, Haaretz or Al Jazeera to

    give a non biased report of the situation (although Haaretz article was from the Associated Press). You also said

    that the 4 articles we’re discussing “different times” where Ahmadinejad “repeated his call.” Sorry to disapoint,

    but Washington Post and Haaretz’s articles were written the same day after Ahmadinejad’s speech during the

    emergency meeting of Muslim leaders in Malaysia. J Newswire was the only one reporting what he said in Tehran

    sometime in december 2006 and Al Jazeera’s article was only a follow up about the “Israel must be wiped off the

    map” quote, which Juan Cole has proven as being, generally, taken out of context, and mistranslated.

    From the Washington Post:

    “Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire

    must be implemented,” he said.

    Yes, I can totally see now why everyone thinks Ahmadinejad is a megalomaniac. He asks for an immediate cease-fire

    (peace, anyone?) to put an end to the general atrocities and unjustified attacks of the IDF against Lebanon. He

    aslo says that, (my source is still the Washington Post’s article) “Israel “is an illegitimate regime, there is no

    legal basis for its existence”… something that is now common knowledge for any non biased historian or political

    analyst. Does this mean that Israel shouldn’t exist? I hope not. Does this mean that Iran (or any other country)

    should attack Israel? Hell no! But simply face the fact that there are some wrong doings from the Israeli

    government that date back to 1948 and that justice must be made (and by that, I mean, through diplomacy and

    international conscensus.)

    From Jerusalem Newswire:

    “the short-statured man [Ahamdinejad] who publicly seeks to emulate Adolph Hitler said that “the Zionist regime

    will be wiped out the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” This quote is the

    funniest thing I’ve read this week. Coming from a radical news (channel/paper?), it’s simply incredible. First

    and foremost, “the short-statured man” part. I don’t think I’ve seen such a stupid and irrelevant attack on a

    political persona since the days of WWII propaganda (but I haven’t been following USA’s political scene too much

    neither……) “Who seeks to emulate Adolph Hitler”. I mean, c’mon, a three year old could come up with better

    trash talking than that! But the best part still remains, the actual quote (of Ahmadinejad’s speech): “the Zionist

    regime will be wiped out the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom.” I don’t know if

    you see the irony here, but maybe, just maybe, the Soviet Union was wiped out because of it’s overpowered and

    oppressive government (and consequent international condamnations), because of the numerous “third” wars it created

    and waged here and there and because of it’s usually aggressive and military response to any diplomatic, social or

    economical problem ? Just maybe….

    From Haaretz:

    First paragraph:
    “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday the solution to the Middle East crisis was to destroy Israel,

    Iranian state media reported.”

    Third Paragraph:
    “Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire

    must be implemented,” Ahmadinejad said, according to state-run television in a report posted on its Web site.

    Again, I don’t know if you can see the subtle difference between the journalist’s interpretation of Ahmadinejad’s

    speech that becomes “destroy Israel” from Ahmadinejad’s actual words, which are “elimination of the Zionist

    regime”. I’m not a linguistic expert… I’d have to ask Noam Chomsky for help here… but I’m pretty sure destroy

    Israel and the removal or dismantlement of the zionist government of Israel might not mean the same thing. But

    hey, you’ve got to sell you’re product. We can’t really blame the journalist for writing an intentionally

    fallacious interpretation of Ahmadinejad’s speech simply to sell his work…. that’s what all of them do nowadays.

    Have a good day,

    MoBe Real.

  • Did you actually read the Slate article to which you linked? You should, because it actually adresses your entire post in great detail…and destroys your points (not to mention Cole’s).

    That Slate article also addresses your reservations about the comments made by Ahmadenijad in the past few days, although you should know that it wasn’t just Ha’aretz which translated his words to mean destroy Israel, but rather other Israeli newspapers. As you know, there are many Iranian-born and descended Israelis who speak the language fluently (yes, far better than Cole). But let’s have it your way, and speak of “only” destroying the current Israeli “regime.” In your mind that doesn’t seem to equate with destruction of a nation, and yet that is precisely what it means to Iran and to the Palestinians. The niceties that you would like to attribute to these folks simply aren’t there. They are speaking about violence and destruction and you want to suggest that this will be some sort of flower revolution.

    Oh, but wait, I just wanted to address your comment about Cole. If you do a search on our site for his name, you’ll learn that some of us don’t think very highly of his biased scholarship, which has become even more extreme as he seeks to emotionally recover from not getting the position at Yale – a loss he probably blames on, you know, those “Likudniks” he’s always chattering about.

  • Yes I read the article before posting it. It’s the only well written one I could find describing your point of view. Yet, the second link I posted was Juan Cole’s view on Hitchen’s article and on how he wrote it. Hitchen’s obvious lack of professionalism should alone be a sign of the quality of his work, but don’t take it from me. Simply read how Hitchen came to his conclusions (second link).

    Yes, I do have some serious reservations, but not about the comments Ahmadinejad’s made, but about the translations newspaper agencies are showing here and there. Cole demonstrated clearly what he really said and wasn’t anywhere near the meaning of “destroy Israel”. Taking this fact into account, how can you trust the translations posted afterwards by the same news corps ? And I don’t want to insult israeli journalists/newspapers, but can you really believe that any of their work on Ahmadinejad is free of bias ? I don’t think so.

    When I quoted Ha’aretz, I only wanted to show the difference between what was actually said and what the journalist’s interpretation was. I can understand your point of view, when you say Iran or Palestinians only talk about violence, but a journalist’s purpose is not to show the information as he thinks it should be presented, but simply report the facts. That was not the case of any of the sources you presented above and in most if not all of the media reports concerning Ahmadinejad’s comments.

    When you say that Ahmadinejad’s comments didn’t mean to put an end to the violent regime of Israel (like the US did in Iraq… which was applauded by the Israeli government), you immediatly assume his sayings as equating “total annihilation of Israel”. Again, like most articles I’ve read that simply mistranslated Ahmadinejad’s comments, you gave your own interpretation of his ideas and presented them as his. You even went further when saying that Palestinians and Iranians want the “destruction of a nation” and that they are speaking of “violence and destruction”. Again, you use you’re own views of the situation to paint a less than likely (and likeable) portrait of Palestinians and Iranians.

    As far as I’m concerned, while they are “speaking” of violence and destruction, only Israel is encouraging this violence. (Destructions of homes, attacks on Lebanon, the construction of the wall, and so on.) I’m not saying that some Palestinians (and Iranians, Syrians, Lebanese) do not also have blood on their hands, but face the fact that Israel also contributes to this tense and generally violent and destructive climate.

    I’m not completely blind as to think of a “flower revolution”, but how about a real democratic election for a change? Or maybe a popular vote throughout Israel? And how about the destruction of the wall ? And how about not destroying Palestinians’ homes and infrastructures? Yes, maybe a “flower revolution” may be the only solution, but in this case, it would be Israel’s solution and not the struggling Palestinians.

    About the third paragraph you’ve written… trying to descredit someone’s arguments by attacking his person is the lowest kind of argumentation existing. You use the same techniques as the article you linked on Jerusalem Newswire, which is totally ridiculous and laughable. You may not think very highly of him, but that’s not the point. And who could blame you ? After all, he does oppose most of what you believe. As does Norman Finklestein, Noam Chomsky, Jonathan Cook, etc… etc. The fact that you could attack Cole’s arguments through his personal life experiences just shows to how little arguments you clinge on to defend your point of view.

    That being said, I am very happy that you took your time to respond after my comments. Not too many people would’ve even made the effort. We have very different point of views of the situation, but I do try hard to understand how you feel when someone’s threathen the existence (or the right to exist) of Israel. I don’t know if you’re an Israeli citizen or not, but you must have some direct or indirect ties to the land (besides, obviously, being jewish). The situation of the Middle East is not the most pleasent possible, but it could become the “paradise” it ought to be if everyone does the effort. And I take it as such when you take your time to debate.

    Once again, have a good day.

    Mobe Real.

  • Mobe,

    It’s not just Hitchens, it’s also the official translators of the Iranian regime who disagree with Cole. Here’s the NY Times destroying Cole’s claim that Ahmadinejad didn’t mean to wipe out Israel:

    If Mr. Steele and Mr. Cole are right, not one word of the quotation — Israel should be wiped off the map — is accurate.

    But translators in Tehran who work for the president’s office and the foreign ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statement, including a description of it on his Web site (www.president.ir/eng/), refer to wiping Israel away. Sohrab Mahdavi, one of Iran’s most prominent translators, and Siamak Namazi, managing director of a Tehran consulting firm, who is bilingual, both say “wipe off” or “wipe away” is more accurate than “vanish” because the Persian verb is active and transitive.

    The second translation issue concerns the word “map.” Khomeini’s words were abstract: “Sahneh roozgar.” Sahneh means scene or stage, and roozgar means time. The phrase was widely interpreted as “map,” and for years, no one objected. In October, when Mr. Ahmadinejad quoted Khomeini, he actually misquoted him, saying not “Sahneh roozgar” but “Safheh roozgar,” meaning pages of time or history. No one noticed the change, and news agencies used the word “map” again.

    Ahmad Zeidabadi, a professor of political science in Tehran whose specialty is Iran-Israel relations, explained: “It seems that in the early days of the revolution the word ‘map’ was used because it appeared to be the best meaningful translation for what he said. The words ‘sahneh roozgar’ are metaphorical and do not refer to anything specific. Maybe it was interpreted as ‘book of countries,’ and the closest thing to that was a map. Since then, we have often heard ‘Israel bayad az naghshe jographya mahv gardad’ — Israel must be wiped off the geographical map. Hard-liners have used it in their speeches.”

    The final translation issue is Mr. Ahmadinejad’s use of “occupying regime of Jerusalem” rather than “Israel.”

    To some analysts, this means he is calling for regime change, not war, and therefore it need not be regarded as a call for military action. Professor Cole, for example, says: “I am entirely aware that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. The question is whether his intentions and capabilities would lead to a military attack, and whether therefore pre-emptive warfare is prescribed. I am saying no, and the boring philology is part of the reason for the no.”

    But to others, “occupying regime” signals more than opposition to a certain government; the phrase indicates the depth of the Iranian president’s rejection of a Jewish state in the Middle East because he refuses even to utter the name Israel. He has said that the Palestinian issue “does not lend itself to a partial territorial solution” and has called Israel “a stain” on Islam that must be erased. By contrast, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, said that if the Palestinians accepted Israel’s existence, Iran would go along.

    In other words, Juan Cole, as is often the case, is biased and apparently his biased views affect the accuracy of his scholarship.

    By the way, Ha’aretz and Yediot (ynetnews.com) are two different papers with two different editorial approaches. Their reporters, if they have a bias, have one along ideological lines, but would report something like this with accuracy because they have no ulterior motive to do otherwise. They actually would prefer that Israel not be attacked or threatened and gain no benefit from reporting otherwise – they write for an Israeli audience. And on top of that, the likelihood of their having access to a native-Farsi speaking interpreter who speaks the language better than Cole is very high.


    Then, for some reason you get into a line of thinking that is highly confusing for me. You blame Israel for attacks on Lebanon, even though Hizbullah attacked first and continued to attack, targeting civilians. You speak about the destruction of homes, presumably Palestinian, without mentioning that they tend to be homes housing terrorists. In other cases the demolitions were in areas with smuggling tunnels. The construction of the security barrier, which is a wall in some parts and a fence in most parts, is taking place because of years-long terror activities by Palestinians. However, we agree that Israel is not pure and is responsible for some violence. Then again, consider that they left Gaza entirely and then absorbed 1500 rockets from Gaza. When they re-entered and ended up killing civilians accidentally, that blood was on their hands but the blame should be placed on the rocket launching terrorists, no?

    Then you get into the nature of Israel’s democracy, griping about “real elections.” I have no idea what you’re talking about. Israel has full and fair elections on a regular basis. Every citizen, regardless of ethnicity or religion can vote. There are 10 Arab MKs from Arab parties and several more among other parties such as Labor. The Palestinians also have full and fair elections, as has been noted by their good friend Jimmy Carter who has provided oversight for two of these elections. That is meaningful democracy and make no mistake that the odds are that the Palestinians have the democracy they do thanks to their proximity to Israel. It’s not as if other Arab countries have real democracies.

    Finally, as for my attack on Cole, it had nothing to do with making my case or an argument. It comes only after I make my argument and it came about primarily because your comment above it suggested that we didn’t know Cole’s credentials. Well, now you know that we do.

    Have a nice evening.