"Israel must be wiped off the map."

Ehud Olmert and George Bush met in Washington on Monday to discuss the latest target in the recently revived "war on terror" (originally declared in the 1980s to deal with uncooperative governments in Latin America), Iran.

In response to this visit, Bush held a press conference in which he threatened Iran with "global isolation" if they did not give up their uranium enrichment program. Tony Blair, in keeping with the precedent he has set countless times since the Bush administration took power in 2001, obediently echoed these sentiments in a speech given later that day.

Mr Blair presented Iran with a choice: end support for insurgents and extremists in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories in return for what he described as a new partnership in the region.

The alternative, he said, was diplomatic isolation for Tehran.

From RTE News

Bush's threat to Iran was similarly worded, according to the Associated Press:
Bush said the U.S. has not changed the terms, and he warned of "economic isolation" for Iran if it presses ahead.

"There has to be a consequence for their intransigence," Bush said.

One common thread that I have noticed in the coverage of this meeting between Bush and Olmert is the constant reference back to a statement by the Iranian President that Israel should be "wiped off the map." Such a statement, taken out of context, could easily be interpreted as a call to genocide; much like the statement by Richard Nixon regarding targets to bomb in Vietnam being "anything that flies on anything that moves."

But, for a statement to be so consistantly repeated, it should generally be accepted that such a statement should be carefully researched first. I won't get into the fact that the UN mandate for the state of Palestine was wiped off the map by Israel between 1947 and 1967, but rather proffer a short critical examination of the genocidal nature of this remark.

After having heard the statement repeated constantly in the western press, it was only after an astute reader of this blog, Nadia, pointed out that there was some discussion as to the accuracy of that translation. I regret to confess that it had not even occurred to me that the Iranian President would have been speaking Persian, not english, when the statement was made. As such, I turned to an expert on middle east affairs, Juan Cole, as referenced on Wikipedia in an article entitled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Israel:
""Juan Cole, a University of Michigan Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, translates the Persian phrase as:

The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).[8]

According to Cole, "Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map because no such idiom exists in Persian" and "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse."[1]

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translates the phrase similarly:

[T]his regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.[9]

On 20 February 2006, Iran’s foreign minister denied that Tehran wanted to see Israel “wiped off the map,” saying Ahmadinejad had been misunderstood. "Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned," Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference, speaking in English, after addressing the European Parliament. "How is it possible to remove a country from the map? He is talking about the regime. We do not recognise legally this regime," he said."

I find it interesting to note that they specify the "Zionist" regime, rather than just the Israeli regime. Let us also not forget that, pursuant to a UN Resolution, from 1974 (up until the US had it repealed in 1991) the word "Zionist" was equated with the word "Racist."

Does the fact that Iran refuses to recognise (similar to World Court judgements on the subject) the "Racist" regime in Tel Aviv make Iran what Bush terms a "threat to world peace"? It would seem that the US establishment thinks so. Airing soon on the american Discovery Channel is a special report entitled
Koppel: Iran The Most Dangerous Nation. Again, this will undoubtedly add to the hype surrounding the Iranian regime, which itself (predictably) states that the "Zionist state's fears are unfounded". Perhaps, if Iran were such a dangerous nation, they would warrant economic and diplomatic isolation.

However, diplomatic and economic isolation are two threats that the US, UK, and Israeli regimes will not be able to make good on. The US and Israel have no economic ties whatsoever with Iran, and Iran's two major trading partners, China and Russia, are not going to support any "isolation" of their close partner.

Iran was first targeted in the 1950s for its vast reserves of oil and natural gas, and a 1952 US-sponsored coup in the country did away with their Parliamentary Democracy and installed a monarchy, headed by the Shah. After 27 years of brutal oppression under the Shah, a popular rebellion occured that led to the creation of the current Islamic State of Iran, in 1979, under the rule of Ayatollah Khomeni and a directly elected parliament.

Rather like Venezuala under Hugo Chavez, or Cuba under Fidel Castro, for US planners Iran is a dangerous example of intransigence (towards US imperial interests rather than towards the "international community" as Bush would like us to believe) to allow to exist right in the midst of an area that they wish to exert control over. This is one of the reasons why the US asserts that Iran is the world's leading State Sponsor of Terror for its support for Hamas and Hizballah. We shall not delve into the US sponsorship for terrorist regimes in Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Columbia, most of latin America in the 1980s, etc., or delve into detail regarding US arms sales but rather point out a glaring irregularity with regards to Israel and Palestine.

In 1947, the state of Palestine was an official state on UN maps. The territory still exists, but it is under the illegal occupation of Israeli forces. Pursuant to Article 51 of the UN Charter, the people of Palestine are legally entitled to defend their land from aggressors. To support the is in fact, by current legal interpretations, more legal than the support received by revolutionaries in the current territory of the US from countries in Europe in the late 18th century.

However, today Iran is in a position that requires that it become, once again, a target. As such, it is not surprising that some will "pull out all the stops" to make Iran a "diabolical enemy" on par with Hitler. The danger, as discussed on this blog on many occasions, is Iran's nuclear program. The fact that, according to every IAEA report on the subject, they seem to be abiding by the NNPT is irrelevant to western media sources apparently, as what has been manufactured as the "main issue" is Iran's uranium enrichment program.

One of the proponents of the US's policy towards Iran is the well known Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State under Richard Nixon. His statements on Iran's nuclear program are telling.

Prior to the 1979 revolution, when Iran was under the rule of the US-sponsored Shah, Kissinger stated that "introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran's economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals." Most recently, Kissinger is quoted as saying "For an oil producer such as Iran, nuclear energy is a wasteful use of resources." When asked why he had so completely changed his stand, Kissinger explained that prior to 1979 "they were an allied country." And of course their oil was going to the US, not Russia and China.

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