Ahmadinejad once again fails to call for the annihilation of Israel, despite what you heard on CNN

I saw Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN Friday afternoon. Oren said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had called for the annihilation of Israel, and was therefore speaking of genocide.

It is dreary to see this constant drumbeat of dishonest propaganda. Whatever one thinks of Ahmadinejad or the Iranian regime, one should not misrepresent their statements, since that will lead to bad policy-making.

The Washington Post also wrote, “Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier, spoke of Israel’s eventual “demise and annihilation”. In fact, Ahmadinejad never mentioned Israel as a country at all, and spoke only about what he called the ‘Zionist regime.’ He favors an admittedly odd form of the ‘one state solution’ in which Palestinians and at least some Jews would all vote for the same government.

So this is what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday at a press conference in Damascus:

“Iran, Syria, the Palestinian Resistance and Lebanon are ready to meet any conditions, and we hope that the enemies of the nations of the region will change their course and instead walk beside regional states in cooperation. Insofar as the Zionist regime threatens Lebanon and Syria and prominent personalities of these two countries every day, it must accept its end and grant in their entirety the rights of the Palestinian nation.”

That is, Ahmadinejad began by offering an olive branch to any former enemies that wanted to make peace. But he characterized the ‘Zionist regime,’ i.e. the Israeli government with its current ideology, as intrinsically belligerent, and insisted that this ‘regime’ must ‘accept its own end’ and grant Palestinians their full rights (presumably, citizenship and property rights, which they now lack).

Ahmadinejad seems to see Zionism as an ideology as essentially unwilling to allow Palestinian human rights, and so calls for it to acquiesce in its obsolescence.

Ahmadinejad did not mention Israel and did not call for any genocides, or anyone to be killed, or war. He asked Zionists to see that their ideology has no future. In the past he has compared his vision of the fall of what he calls the Zionist regime to the fall of the Soviet Union, which happened peacefully and with no annihilation of the population.

Personally, I see Zionism as just a garden variety form of modern romantic nationalism not different in any way from scores of other nationalisms (including Arab nationalism, Serbian nationalism, and Iranian nationalism).

Zionism constructs Palestinian-Israelis as second-class citizens, and attempts to deny Palestinians in the Occupied Territories basic rights. But other nationalisms are also guilty of exclusions, though there are unique aspects to the Zionist project. Shiite-tinged Iranian nationalism insists that the head of state be a Shiite ayatollah and disallows Sunni Iranians, perhaps 10-15% of the population, from serving even as elected president, and Sunni provinces such as Baluchistan are the most deprived of resources and services. Only civic nationalism of the American and French varieties has universalistic aspirations, and even there it is flawed by a latent privileging of some groups within the nation (Protestant whites in the US, secular-minded native-born French of Catholic extraction in France).

Ahmadinejad may be blinkered and hypocritical, but he did not call for the annihilation of or genocide against anyone.

Only committed Zionists would see a one-state solution as the ‘annihilation’ of Israel.

In any case, now that a two-state solution has been made virtually impossible by Israel’s determined colonization of the West Bank, a one-state solution is the most likely outcome of what will probably be a 50-year struggle for basic Palestinian rights to citizenship in a state. The rest of us are going to be mightily inconvenienced by this unnecessary and stupid conflict, and the inconvenience will only be increased by equally stupid propaganda from unreliable narrators like Oren.

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Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Responses | Print |

19 Responses

  1. You were on the right path (facts wise), Juan Cole, but then you took a dirt road and slipped off a proverbial cliff.

    Unlike other forms of nationalism, even the type of nationalism that views one ethnic or racial group as exclusive, Zionism depended on ethnic cleansing to achieve that nationalism.

    At the turn of the 20th century, Zionism, certainly Theodore Hertzel's Zionism, considered Palestine between the river and the sea to be the ideal place for the establishment of a national homeland for Jews.

    The entire Zionist movement was promoted as calling for the settlement of Jews in an empty land, otherwise known as "A land without a people for a people without a land".

    But, by the time the British empire which occupied that region at the time granted European Zionists permission to establish a "Jews state in Palestine", Zionist groups had already started taking over more and more land, first by force and later through terrorism.

    Israeli historian Illan Pappe puts Jewish land ownership in 1947 at about 7%. Other Israeli historians have published similar figures ranging from 4.5% to 10%.

    Long before 1948, well before Israel "declared independence", Ben Gurion and other Zionist leaders were talking about removing the Palestinian population from Palestine. Ben-Gurion contended that without their removal, the Zionist dream would never come to fruition.

    And so in 1948, in massacre after massacre, including ones at Deir Yassin, Tantura and Lydd, more than 800,000 Palestinian civilians were chased out of their homes and across the border into today's West Bank. When that wasn't enough, Ben-Gurion ordered the execution of Plan D, known in Hebrew as "Tochnit Dalet". Under that plant, entire villages in the central region of the holy land were razed and their populations terrorized into leaving. More than 460 Palestinian villages were destroyed at the hands of various Zionist militias.

    Now, Zionist ideologues, like Michael Oren, for example, would tell you that in 1948 Israel was under attack by every Arab in the region. Alas, THAT would be patently false as by all scholarly accounts (not government propaganda) Zionist militias, led by Hagannah, outnumbered Arab forces 8 to 1. Additionally, the motives for ethnic cleansing can be see in Ben Gurion's and other leaders' own candid admissions decades earlier.

    Please do not trivialize an ethnic cleansing in some apologetic form of moral relativism. After all, saying that ALL nationalist movements are in one way or another the same as Zionism is a gross misrepresentation of Zionism as an ideology, and history, in general.

    PS: You might want to read a book called "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" and "The Seventh Million".

  2. I’m glad to hear you acknowledge that the two-state solution is dead. I think it’s been dead for some time. A one- state solution, with a one-man/one-vote democracy will not be accepted voluntarily by the Zionists under current conditions– where they believe they hold all the trump. For one practical reason, it could result in an Israel where Jews are a minority. Apartheid and human bondage can go on for a long time, especially when the agents of such bondage see themselves serving the will of the Lord. From the first delivery of African slaves to the Colonies to the Civil Rights Act was 345 years. Fifty years seems a little to soon to resolve this.
    Nonetheless, history probably doesn’t favor Israel in its current incarnation. Israel is essentially a crusader state which, like its medieval analogs, is dependent on western patronage or a world order that tolerates its mentality. Eventually, the west may tire of the conflict, or find more pressing concerns. The world order may change to one of less tolerance. That’s when things might change. At least that’s one possibility. But it could be a long time.

  3. Well, here in the US of A, we do 'stupid' better than anybody.
    (Anyway, thanks for keeping up with a measured look at the Islamic countries.)

  4. Mr. Cole, contrary to your claim there is nothing in Iranian constitutional law that prevents a sunni from becoming a president. Your comparison of Zionism to Iranian nationalism is out of line. People living is Baluchestan have equal citizenship rights as any other Iranian living elsewhere. Presence of poverty in that province is by no stretch of imagination a conspiracy by the central government to deprive that region due to their ethnicity as you suggest.
    You clearly have no understanding of Iranian nationalism. I suspect you think it is equivalent to Persian Chauvinism. It is not.

  5. Anonymous @11:39

    You are clearly spewing the VEVAK's talking points.

    The Sunnis situation in Baluchestan and the south is akin to Palestinians who have been dispossessed of their land, property, and are discriminated against for many years. They have been supressed and massacred both under the Shah and the Islamic Republic of Rapists.

    You as a supporter of the Islamic Republic of rapist are nothing but a quisling and colloborator. Remmeber what happened to Shah's cronies, the same kind of fate is awaiting you and your murderous regime.

    I know this won't be posted but at least you get to read it…

    Clerics or Pimps:

    link to pbs.org

    link to nytimes.com

  6. Laina Farhat-Holzman: Who is an 'enemy of God'?

    Santa Cruz Sentinel / Laina Farhat-Holzman
    There is some very strange language coming out of Iran today. Unarmed demonstrators are being arrested, summarily tried and executed. Their crime: they are "enemies of God." This now accompanies the earlier stupid crime designation: "a polluter of earth." No, this is not an ecological crime; it is a crime against the government that considers any backtalk pollution. But "enemy of God" implies that the great ayatollah and the country's illegitimately elected president are either gods themselves, or God's people.

    We cannot understand what is going on in Iran without understanding its religious underpinnings. Iran is a predominantly Shiite Muslim country, a minority sect of Islam that goes back to the beginnings of Islam as a religion. A large segment of the population is now secular and has no real interest in Shi'a Islam. Others are Christian, Baha'i, and some tribes such as the Kurds are Sunni the majority Muslim sect. But the Shiite government is in charge….

    link to santacruzsentinel.com

  7. Why belittle Ahmadinejad's endorsement of the one-state solution? Exactly where does his solution only apply to "some jews"?

    How is Ahmadinejad "blinkered"? If by this you are referring to Iranian law enforcement applications post June-election, answer me this: How different is the case of Neda from Allison Krause (Kent State 1970)?

    I suggest, Juan, you are being something of an Oren-lite here.


  8. There is no day that passes when Israeli government leaders do not make inflaming comments or take inflaming actions against Palestinians and Iranians. The Israeli government reflects prejudice and repressiveness that is astounding.

  9. Juan,

    Zionism and Iranian nationalism are not comparable as you suggest. I'm actually astounded at your understanding which is very flawed. I don't know whether this is due to lack of knowledge or whether it's to appease the extremists but please do your research next time.


  10. I posted a comment to the WaPo article.

    Here it is:

    You need to get rid of your interpreters and get off your ideologically charge demagogue's platform at the WaPo and tell the truth.

    "Iran, Syria, the Palestinian Resistance and Lebanon are ready to meet any conditions, and we hope that the enemies of the nations of the region will change their course and instead walk beside regional states in cooperation. Insofar as the Zionist regime threatens Lebanon and Syria and prominent personalities of these two countries every day, it must accept its end and grant in their entirety the rights of the Palestinian nation."

    Ahmadinejad once again *fails* to call for the annihilation of Israel!

    …As a matter of FACT, "Ahmadinejad began by offering an olive branch to any former enemies that wanted to make peace."

    A transcript of his speech in Farsi or perhaps Arabic: link to tabnak.ir

    Juan Cole, professor of Persian history on this lie being subtly insinuated into the American reader's consciousness: link to juancole.com

    Yours truly,
    An American NON-Zionist Jew who wishes the Post would cover the lawsuit in Israel filed by Rachel Corrie's parents.

    Remember Rachel Corrie?

    She's gonna get her day in an Israeli court, complete with eyewitnesses previously barred from entering the country.

    One day, the antichrist-like Zionist regime, WILL be 'wiped from the pages of time'

    Mark my words.

    It HAS been spoken:

    "If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with all others justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless, the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place…then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever." –Jeremiah 7:5-7

    My birthright is being squandered by these cretins with the assistance of the Washington Post, and I FIND IT INDEFENSIBLE.

  11. What distinguishes Zionism from other late 19th century and early 20th Century romantic nationalisms is the Holocaust. Effectively, the West where Ashkenazi Jewry lived could not be trusted not to murder every last Jew, or prevent their murder. So Israel had to be created, as a preserve for survivors who had no where else to go and as a last protection against a hostile, murderous world in the future.

    Of course such a state is inherently flawed since it is a form of affirmative action, displaced local Arab populations and created much misery for local Arabs in 1948. But a one-state solution undermines this central protection for the world's Jews and the ability for a single Jewish state to succeed. We can agree that Netanyahu is a disgrace and that his policies do not foster peace, but those failures should not undermine the basis for Zionism.

    I wish Israel could have the univeralistic aspirations of France or the U.S, it just is not the case.

  12. Hi Juan, I am not an expert in these matters, but I want to take issue with what you are saying here. Ahmadi does not call specifically for something as extreme as genocide, or ending Israel, but his language is ambiguous. Ahmadi says that the "Zionist regime… must accept its end"… You interpret Ahmadi's phrase "Zionist regime" to mean the "Israeli government with its current ideology". However, do we believe that an extremist audience of Iranian clients like Hamas or Hezbollah interprets this phrase in the same way? I submit that many would equate "Zionist regime" with "state of Israel". With his ambiguous phrase he can play to his most extremist elements and clients in Hezbollah and Hamas, without being too explicit and turning off moderates. To put it simply, I think he uses coded language to mollify extremists without alienating moderates (for lack of a better description). Until his speeches and actions show that he is unambiguously committed to a peaceful middle east and peaceful resolution of these questions, these speeches should be judged for their impact and the signals they send. I won't be convinced otherwise until I hear that Hamas/Hezbollah/IRGC have disavowed him as too soft or a stooge.

  13. The Iranian constitution (article 2) states that the Islamic Republic

    is a system based on belief in:
    1.the One God (as stated in the phrase "There is no god except Allah"), His exclusive sovereignty and the right to legislate, and the necessity of submission to His commands;
    2.Divine revelation and its fundamental role in setting forth the laws;
    3.the return to God in the Hereafter, and the constructive role of this belief in the course of man's ascent towards God;
    4.the justice of God in creation and legislation;
    5.continuous leadership (imamah) and perpetual guidance, and its fundamental role in ensuring the uninterrupted process of the revolution of Islam;
    6.the exalted dignity and value of man, and his freedom coupled with responsibility before God; in which equity, justice, political, economic, social, and cultural independence, and national solidarity are secured by recourse to:
    (1).continuous ijtihad of the fuqaha' possessing necessary qualifications, exercised on the basis off the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Ma'sumun, upon all of whom be peace;
    (2).sciences and arts and the most advanced results of human experience, together with the effort to advance them further;
    (3).negation of all forms of oppression, both the infliction of and the submission to it, and of dominance, both its imposition and its acceptance.

    Note that of these official articles of faith there are several specific to Shiite Islam, such as 5. the Imamah, and 6(1) continuous ijtihad of the fuqaha and the invocation of the Sunnah (practice) of the Ma'sumun (i.e. the 12 imams). A Sunni would not subscribe to these precepts.

    As for the Prseidency, Article 115 specifies that
    "The President must be elected from among religious and political personalities possessing the following qualifications: Iranian origin; Iranian nationality; administrative capacity and resourcefulness; a good past-record; trustworthiness and piety; convinced belief in the fundamental principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the official madhhab of the country."

    The "official madhhab of the country" is Twelver Shiism — no Sunnis would qualify.

  14. Scoop!
    Ahmadinejad didn't call for the annihilation of Israel. Only for the overthrow of its regime. Your "one state solution" means forcing the Israeli Jews to live as second class citizens subjected to Sharia law in a country that will probably be as free and as successful as the rest of the countries who have Muslim majority. Israel will never accept it.

  15. Saying that we are going to be "mightily inconvenienced" by this unnecessary conflict is far too mild considering the extent of the warping of our defense strategy and the diversion of our national treasury, not to mention the loss of the lives of our young. I would say that we, too, are going to be "ruined" by this unnecessary conflict.

  16. With all due respect, I don't think the argument that preferential treatment for Jews in Israel is no different to preferential treatment for other religious sects elsewhere is at all convincing.

    The controversial aspect of Jewish privilege in Palestine is not that it is uniquely immoral for Israeli Jews to claim sectarian privilege for themselves, but that Zionism claims they have the right to do this in a land where Jewish people are not the natural majority, and rely on a gerrymandered majority status created and maintained by the constant use of force against the preexisting population. So Jewish dominance can only come about in the first place through large scale ethnic cleansing (as in 1948, 1967); and it can only be maintained through the slow ethnic cleansing of economic strangulation that goes on year in year out; through the subterfuge of denying equal voting rights to the majority of Arab subjects by insisting they vote for a toothless fake statelet called the PA rather than for the government that actually rules over them; and through the continuing – but smaller scale – expulsions from their homes of people with the "wrong" ethnic-religious background, which is leaving them living in tents in their own backyards in East Jerusalem even as we speak.

    It seems to me that the relevant feature of Israeli Zionism is therefore not that it privileges one sect over another, but that it places the privileged position of one minority sect over the right of the majority to be treated as equal human beings regardless of whether or not they have a Jewish mom. This kind of privilege can be established and continue to exist only through an endlessly expanding program of expulsion, killing, dispossession and disenfranchisement of the pre-existing non-Jewish population, because merely by existing the "wrong sort of people" are an unbearable "demographic threat" to minority rule. So an appropriate comparison to the situation in Israel might perhaps be the complications that arose out of the Plantation of a privileged Protestant minority into Ireland or, even more closely, the lengths that the white minority population went to in South Africa in order to reserve political power to themselves in the apartheid era.

    In contrast, it really doesn't seem to me that the refusal of Iran to allow its President to be a Sunni is analogous to this situation. It's a rather forced comparison to suggest that not allowing a Sunni minority of 10-15% to provide Iran with an elected President is just like establishing by force a sectarian Jewish state in a land that is overwhelmingly populated by non-Jews and where – even after more than 60 years of ethnic cleansing – that disenfranchised non-Jewish population is poised to be the majority again. Morally there might be no difference between discriminating against a minority of your population and discriminating against a majority of your population, but in the real world I think there's rather a big difference. Not allowing a minority candidate to be President is one thing, forcibly replacing the preexisting population of a country because they don't have the preferred ethnic-religious background seems rather different.

  17. Juan,

    At first, I was a little bit disappointed by your interpretation of "Iranian Nationalism". But then, I found out that it's obviously not your fault, but ours that haven't even opened the doors of our country to un-biased researchers like you.

    You're doing a great job man. Good luck.

  18. And no, I don't mean that one has to defend the authoritarian regime in Iran or defend the brutal crackdown, though it might be appropriate to put it in balance with the notoriously brutal regimes the US allies with, not to mention the far more brutal crackdown perpetrated by 'our' allies, just recently, in Honduras, etc.. And it might be appropriate to ask how the US government would have reacted if say a million protestors had descended on DC and in other cities after the elections in 2000 and 2004 elections that likely were stolen, especially if those protests coincided with say, a billion dollars of support from Russia for subversion in the US.

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