April 16, 2006 - During a three-day conference with Palestinian leaders in Tehran, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the following remarks:
"Like it or not, the Zionist regime is heading toward annihilation. The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."
"The existence of the Zionist regime is tantamount to an imposition of an unending and unrestrained threat so that none of the nations and Islamic countries of the region and beyond can feel secure from its threat."
"Are the consequences of the establishment of this [Israeli] regime less than the Holocaust that you [the West] are claiming? If there are doubts regarding the Holocaust, there is really no doubt regarding the Palestinian disaster and holocaust."
"Believe that Palestine will be freed soon."
"The existence of this [Israeli] regime is a permanent threat.... Its existence has harmed the dignity of Islamic nations."
Expressions of hatred from Tehran are nothing new, but they have been increasing in frequency and intensity. The paranoia Ahmadinejad expresses has unfortunately become common in the Muslim world: Israel is a threat to the entire region, no Islamic nation can live a normal life as long as Israel exists, Israel is worse than the Holocaust, which may never even have occurred.
Of course there is no mention of the Arab wars that led to the Israeli "occupation," the systematic targeting of civilians by Palestinian terrorists, or the threat posed by Iran itself as an exporter of terrorism.
How odd to hear Iran, of all countries, accuse Israel of being a threat to the stability of the entire Middle East. What threatens the stability of the Middle East is the Muslim refusal, racist at its core, to accept even a small sovereign non-Muslim presence anywhere in the area.
But it is not unusual for Israel's enemies to accuse Israel of precisely the offenses of which they themselves are guilty. This is how they deflect attention from themselves.
Time and again I have heard from people who are anti-Israel: this whole conflict is Israel's fault, because it would not exist if Israel had never been created. How could one ever expect the Muslim world to accept it? So Israel is to blame because Muslim states cannot tolerate its existence. Ahmadinejad voices a common sentiment: Israel's very existence "has harmed the dignity of Islamic nations." The racism of this statement should be apparent, and probably would be if the context were anything but Israel and the Middle East.
Consider who is the real threat in the Middle East. Iran has for years been a sponsor of terrorism. The U.S. State Department has reported that Iran has given Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine considerable support including funding, safe haven, training, and weapons. All of these groups are dedicated to Israel's destruction, and through their violence they have undermined any chance for a negotiated peace.
And so Iran is already at war with Israel, though Israel has not fired a single shot at Iran. Given this history, it is reckless to say the least that Iran's President, on the eve of Iran's becoming a nuclear power, talks about Israel's impending annihilation. Iran has just announced its ability to enrich uranium, and satellite evidence shows Iran expanding and reinforcing its nuclear facilities. With nuclear capability as well as a worldwide terrorist network, Iran will be well positioned to carry out its threats. President Ahmadinejad must know that people listening to him realize this. He spoke to the world, not only to his own. There is no reason to doubt he wanted people to take him seriously.
Many people are dismissing Ahmadinejad's comments. They say he is just a lunatic, or is only posturing to score points with his constituency. However, if Ahmadinejad's inflammatory rhetoric remained only words and did not spill over into violence, it would be a first in history. State-sponsored campaigns of national and ethnic vilification have invariably led to mass violence - that is their purpose. It would indeed be remarkable if Iran were to be an exception.
This is why those who support the Palestinians must be the first to denounce any campaign of racial or religious hatred, even when the targets are Jews. I often hear people saying, "Well both sides hate each other." This is misleading at best. There is nothing in Israel remotely comparable to the institutionalized anti-Jewish (and not only anti-Israel) hatred disseminated throughout the Muslim world, in schools, in mosques, on radio and T.V. If this festering state-sponsored hatred did not some day lead to catastrophe, it would defy every pattern of history. Not only Jews are threatened. We all are.
I can understand people who say that both Israelis and Palestinians have erred and must resolve their differences. I cannot understand those who promote uncritically the Palestinian cause, especially when that comes with hostility or even outright hatred toward Israel. Such Palestinian partisans have no answer to the injustice of systematic violence intentionally targeting civilians, the support several Muslim countries have given to Palestinian terrorists, and the institutionalized ethnic and religious hatred in those countries. The conclusion is inescapable that this kind of Palestinian partisanship is evidence of a serious moral defect. And not just the Middle East but the entire world will suffer greatly for it.
Brennan, Phil. How Rogue Nations Aid Terrorism." NewsMax.com, September 17, 2001.
Dareini, Ali Akbar. Iran Madman Raves: Israel Doomed." New York Post, April 15, 2006.
Reuters News Staff. Iranian Group Signing Up Potential Martyrs." CNN.com, April 16, 2006.
United States Department of State. Some States Renounce Support for Terrorist Activities: But Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria show little change from previous years." U.S. Department of State/Office of International Information Programs, April 29, 2004.
Peace with Realism