Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, in a speech to thousands of students in Tehran, said, “And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism…” Quoting “Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of Iran’s Islamic revolution,” Iran’s president added “that Israel “must be wiped out from the map of the world.” In addition, “Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying, “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.”
Iran, as you may know, has a nuclear program and wishes to have nuclear weapons. While “Iran is still several years away from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, according to a study published by an influential London-based think tank” last month, the words should be alarming not only to Jews, but to the U.S. and its allies.
Nobel peace prize winner Simon Peres said it best:
“Since 1945, the establishment of the United Nations, no head of state which is a member of the United Nations ever called for the destruction of another member of the United Nations, publicly and clearly, as the president of Iran did. It is against the charter of the United Nations, it is against the practice of the United Nations, and you cannot have a charter where some of the people are for peace and self-defense and the other half for the destruction of it. We saw already crazy declarations, and crazy appearances in the past, sometimes we did not take it very seriously. But when you see such a crazy declaration being done by an elected head of state, a member of the United Nations, it is unbearable, you cannot remain a member, or you have to change the charter…”
Reactions from around the world reflect Peres’ sense of alarm:
– “EU leaders … today condemned in the strongest terms the comments in respect of the State of Israel attributed to President (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad of Iran,” Reuters quoted an EU statement as saying.
– “French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said he learned about Ahmadinejad’s comments from news reports. “If these comments are correct, they are unacceptable. I greatly condemn them and have asked for the Iranian ambassador in Paris to be summoned to the Foreign Ministry to demand explanations,” Douste-Blazy said.”
– In the Netherlands, “The conservatives (VVD) want the European Union to instigate sanctions against Iran and recall the ambassadors from Teheran immediately. The Christian democrats (CDA) also called the remarks completely repugnant…”
Predictably, Iran’s neighbors in the Middle East have not issued any statements regarding Iran’s president’s call for the destruction of the U.S. and Israel.
“Newspapers across the Middle East reported Wednesday’s speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without comment, many of them on their front pages. Egyptian Foreign Ministry and cabinet officials said Cairo would have nothing to say on the address. Egyptian government officials played down the importance of the speech, saying it was intended for a conservative Iranian audience which remained faithful to the thinking behind the 1979 revolution.”
Did this speech have an immediate impact?
“A Palestinian bomber killed himself and five Israelis in a busy open-air market yesterday, marking the deadliest period of violence in Gaza in three months. The bombing occurred the same day that Iran president Mahmoud Ahmandinejad condemned Israel openly in a speech to thousands of students in Tehran.”
True, this act of terrorism could have been planned months ago, so it’s not clear whether this is a direct response. Radicals within Iran support their president’s statement:
“In a gesture of support for Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Islamic Revolutionary guards on Thursday joined his recent and controversial call for Israel to be “wiped off the map”. “If this cancer (Israel) is not removed from the Islamic world, Muslims will sustain immense harm,” said their spokesman, Seyyed Massoud Jazayeri. Ahmadinejad made his remarks at a Palestinian solidarity conference in Tehran on Wednesday, provoking angry condemnation from Western nations.”
“Russia’s ambassador to Iran has been instructed to seek clarification of Tehran’s position after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Israel should be “wiped off the map,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday. “We are trying to clarify the position of the Iranian side,” the minister said.”
I’m not sure what wasn’t clear; Iran wants Israel and the U.S. destroyed. What will the U.N. do about it?
“UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed dismay about remarks made by Iran’s hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggesting that Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’.”
We need more than “dismay.” We need outrage and action over Iran’s remarks. We need to suspend Iran from the U.N. until they apologize for the remarks. Sanctions is a good idea, too.