Ahmadinejad and Khamenei on Israel... and the US... and the UK
Ahmadinejad's infamous "wiped off the map" statement is claimed by some to be an inaccurate translation. Whether it was or not, Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic are banged to rights
One of the features of Mehdi Hasan’s recent debates with John Rentoul and Paul Staines over Iran has been his insistence that Iranian Mahmoud Ahamdinejad has been misquoted, or mistranslated, in the case of his remarks that Israel should be “wiped off the map” – the translation given at the time by the Islamic Republic News Agency!
Supposedly, this should have been translated as "the regime occupying Quds (Jerusalem) must vanish from the page of time" - which is hardly friendly. In the same speech, he also said of Israel: “Our dear Imam set the regime occupying Quds as the target of his fight... Very soon, this stain of disgrace will be purged from the centre of the Islamic world – and this is attainable.” He added: "Anybody who recognises Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury, while any Islamic leader who recognises the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world."
And this is far from a one-off incident.
In February 2006, he led a crowd in chanting, much more bluntly: "Death to Israel!" In August 2006, during the Israeli operation in Lebanon, he told Muslim leaders: “the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime”.
In a phrase not dissimilar from ‘wiped off the map', in June 2008 he said: "I must announce that the Zionist regime, with a 60-year record of genocide, plunder, invasion and betrayal is about to die and will soon be erased from the geographical scene," In a public address on IRINN TV, Ahmadinejad stated: “The Zionist regime has reached a total dead end. Thanks to God, your wish will soon be realised, and this germ of corruption will be wiped off.”
In October 2008, he said: “I’ve heard that one of them recently said that the idea of Greater Israel is dead. I would like to declare that the idea of ‘smaller Israel’ is also dead. The very notion of Israel is dead... The idea of smaller Israel is dead.” Is there a pattern here? In October 2010, he told Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon: “your enemies, who are the enemies of humanity, are on their way to demise and annihilation.”
In May 2011, he said of Israel: "Like a cancer cell that spreads through the body, this regime infects any region. It must be removed from the body." In November 2011, he continued the medical metaphor, saying of Israel: “This entity can be compared to a kidney transplanted in a body that rejected it. Yes it will collapse and its end will be near.”
And it’s not just president Ahmadinejad we need to worry about. The supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei told Ramadan Abdullah, the secretary general of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in February 2010: “Israel is on the steep path of decline and deterioration. God willing, its destruction will be imminent."
In February 2012, Ayatollah Khamenei told a Friday prayer meeting at Tehran University: “From now onward, we will support and help any nations, any groups fighting against the Zionist regime across the world, and we are not afraid of declaring this. The Zionist regime is a true cancer tumour on this region that should be cut off. And it definitely will be cut off.”
And of course, it is not just Israel which Iran has in its sights. After all, Ahmadinejad said that the reason Israel is so bad is that it “Is the banner of the Great Satan. All it does is implement the orders of the criminal America and Britain.” It is not just Israel he wants gone completely. In the ‘wiped off the map’ speech, he said: " They ask: 'Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?' But you had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved.”
Let us not forget, the Iranian leadership has it in for Britain too. As Robert Halfon has pointed out, in 2006, Hassan Abbasi, Head of the Iranian Centre for Doctrinal Strategic Studies, said: "Britain's demise is on our agenda." He added: "We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization. We must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of missiles." Again, it is not just Iran's words but its deeds too, with its arming of insurgents fighting British and US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and its repeated taking hostage of British military personnel.
The case against the Iranian regime being allowed to develop nuclear weapons is not just based on one quote.
Was ‘wiped off the map’ the most accurate translation? Whether it was or not, Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic are banged to rights.
Peter Cannon is a Research Associate at the Henry Jackson Society
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