Wow, what an orgy of emotion was unleashed in New York City Monday, most of it rather nasty and negative, when President Ahmadinejad of Iran arrived to begin his Big Apple itnerary, which included a speaking engagement at Columbia University yesterday (where its president rudely attacked his guest for several minutes as an introduction) and a speech at the United Nations today, Tuesday September 25. AIPAC and other pro-Israel organizations brought out their phalanxes of troops and ratcheted up the propaganda machinery to try to will him off the planet, which didn't work, and they probably would have torn him to pieces if there hadn't been lots of cops protecting the motor entourage to boot. For Ahmadinejad is, you see, the Demon Persian of Tehran, this image largely based on the infamous statement attributed to him that Israel should be "wiped off the map".
Unfortunately, it is hopelessly lost on those locked into total hatred of the man that this was never what he said. The original, above diabolical phrase was actually a terrible translation of what he had recited in Farsi (Persian language). He had originally quoted an old Ayatollah Khomeini statement that I am now going to let Arash Norouzi enlighen us about from his article dated January 18, 2007. Here is the original statement and Norouzi's commentary.
"Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad."
That passage will mean nothing to most people, but one word might ring a bell: rezhim-e. It is the word "Regime", pronounced just like the English word with an extra "eh" sound at the end. Ahmadinejad did not refer to Israel the country or Israel the land mass, but the Israeli regime. This is a vastly significant distinction, as one cannot wipe a regime off the map. Ahmadinejad does not even refer to Israel by name, he instead uses the specific phrase "rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods" (regime occupying Jerusalem).
So this raises the question.. what exactly did he want "wiped from the map"? The answer is: nothing. That's because the word "map" was never used. The Persian word for map, "nagsheh", is not contained anywhere in his original farsi quote, or, for that matter, anywhere in his entire speech. Nor was the western phrase "wipe out" ever said. Yet we are led to believe that Iran's President threatened to "wipe Israel off the map", despite never having uttered the words "map", "wipe out" or even "Israel".
The full quote translated directly to English:
"The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time".
Word by word translation:
Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from). (Reference: click here)
So, we have been brought to the edge of war with Iran based largely on, as with Iraq, Neocon-hyped bullshit like this. To the global, maniacal Neocon movement, this of course doesn't matter. Any excuse will do to attack Iran. The Cheney faction in the White House and the Israeli Right-wing, which basically controls Israel these days, both simply want a cowed and broken Iran smoldering in ruins, just as Rome continuously had it in for Carthage in ancient times. Rome ultimately destroyed the entire city of Carthage after decades and decades of war and salted all its farming fields so crops would not grow again.
However, it would be naive not to think that Iran is a rival of Israel, but a rival not because it is a pseudo-Nazi enclave of not-so-blond Aryans who fanatically hate Jews (they have their own Jewish population which is not being oppressed), but basically because it supports the cause of Moslem Palestinians trapped in the giant concentration camp called Palestine, as well as being in strong solidarity with the large Shiite Moslem faction in Lebanon, whose spokesgroup is Hezbollah.
Just as most Jews around the world tend to act in solidarity when Israel is attacked, is it surprising that most Moslems tend to act in solidarity when Palestine or Lebanon are attacked? Of course not! The trick then is to stop the polarization between these two largely religiously-defined bodies, to get everyone to learn to live as harmonious neighbors, so that the Middle East is precisely not divided into armed camps. That means dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, trade, trade, trade, exchanges of students, culture, literature, and on and on.
Moreover, it is impossible for one side to vanquish the other militarily and live happily ever after atop a large pile of skulls and bones, because violence just sets mighty new problems in motion. You know, bad Karma, and all that.
Enough said now from my point of view. At this point I want to let you share the perspective of one of the most astute and well-sourced writers on the planet about what just transpired in New York with President Ahmadinejad. I am referring to Pepe Escobar, the ROVING EYE reporter for the widely read Asia Times, who just wrote a new piece entitled:
The Roving Eye:
'Hitler' does New York
By Pepe Escobar
Here are some excerpts from Escobar's article. I am inserting more than I would normally, but this is an exceptional situation, what with war against Iran a few stupid mistakes away. Note that Escobar is pointing out the larger, positive impact the Iranian President is making globally from this trip, no matter how many tomatoes may have hit him here in New York. I quote:
[The new "Hitler", at least for a while, has lodged in a prosaic midtown Manhattan hotel. Contrary to a plethora of demonizing myths, this Persian werewolf did not evade his abode to eat kids for breakfast in Central Park. Instead, he turned on a carefully calibrated public relations charm offensive. Whatever his polemical views, for a now-seasoned head of state like Ahmadinejad to turn astonishing US disinformation on Iran, the Middle East and US foreign policy for his own advantage ended up as a string of slam-dunks.
Articulate, evasive, manipulative, the Iranian president - even lost in translation -was especially skillful in turning US corporate media's hysteria upside down consistently to paint those in the administration of President George W Bush as incorrigible warmongers. Both at the National Press Club, via video-conference, and live at Columbia University, Ahmadinejad even had the luxury of joking about fabled Western "freedom of information" - as so many are still "trying to prevent people from talking".
He scored major points among the target audience that really matters: worldwide Muslim public opinion. Contrasting with a plethora of corrupt Arab leaders, Ahmadinejad has been carefully positioning himself as a Muslim folk hero capable of standing up to Western arrogance and defending the rights of the weak (the Palestinians). The way he deflected US ire on the enemy's own turf will only add to his standing.....
He was also clever in preempting ear-splitting rumors of a next war: "Talk about war is basically a propaganda tool." One of his key points may not have made an impact in the US, but resonated widely around the world, and not only in the Muslim street: "We oppose the way the US government tries to rule the world"; there are "more humane methods of establishing peace". He assured that no Iranian weapons are flowing into Iraq, adding that "regional countries in the Middle East don't need outside interference".
On uranium enrichment, he repeatedly stressed that it is Iran's right, as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to conduct a "legal" and "peaceful" nuclear program. "Why should a nation depend on another?" But if the US would engage in peace talks, so would Iran: "International law is equal to everyone." As for the US and France, they "are not the world" - a reference to both the Bush administration's and the French saber-rattling. "France is a very cultured society, it would not support war." Humanitarian imperialist French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was summarily brushed aside: he needs to attain "higher maturity".
On Israel, Ahmadinejad said, "We do not recognize a regime based on discrimination, occupation and expansionism," and he said that country "last week attacked Syria and last year attacked Lebanon"; pretty much what most of the Middle East agrees with. He may have granted that the Holocaust did take place, but the world needs "more research on it". The Holocaust is not his main point: it always serves as an intro to one of his key themes - why should the Palestinians pay the price for something that happened in Europe? He said he wanted a "clear" answer. No one deigned to provide it.....
US corporate media's treatment of the new "Hitler" seemed to have been scripted by the same ghostwriter lodged in the same (White) House. On 60 Minutes, the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) was firing on all cylinders for a casus belli - from "There's no doubt Iran is providing the IEDs" (improvised explosive devices, in Iraq) to "Why don't you just stop denying that you're building a nuclear bomb?" Ahmadinejad was bemused, to say the least. CNN for its part could not resist proclaiming, "His state even sponsors terrorism ... in some cases even against US troops in Iraq."
Ahmadinejad succinctly unveiled to the Associated Press the reasons for so much warmongering - in a way that even a kid would understand: "I believe that some of the talk in this regard arises first of all from anger. Secondly, it serves the electoral purposes domestically in this country. Third, it serves as a cover for policy failures over Iraq."
An even more appalling measure of Western arrogance - also speaking volumes about "us" when confronted with the incomprehensible "other" - is the diatribe with which the president of Columbia University, Lee Bollinger, chose to "greet" his guest, a head of state. Bollinger, supposedly an academic, spoke about confronting "the mind of evil". His crass behavior got him 15 minutes of fame. Were President Bush to be greeted in the same manner in any university in the developing world - and motives would abound also to qualify him as a "cruel, petty dictator" - the Pentagon would have instantly switched to let's-bomb-them-with-democracy mode.
Ahmadinejad, to his credit, played it cool. Stressing, in a quirky fashion, his "academic" credentials, he unleashed a poetic rant on "science as a divine gift" just to plunge once again into the Palestinian tragedy. He stressed how Iran "is friendly with the Jewish people" - which is a fact (at least 30,000 Jews live undisturbed in Iran). Then back to the key point: Why are the Palestinians paying the price for something they had nothing to do with? Iran has a "humanitarian proposal" to solve the problem - a referendum where Palestinians would choose their own political destiny.
In the absence of informed debate, Ahmadinejad stressed his points the way he wanted to. Iran does not need a nuclear bomb. Iran does not want to manufacture a nuclear bomb. But telling other countries what they can and cannot do is another matter entirely. He is more than aware that the nuclear dossier is "a political issue" - a question of "two or three powers who think they can monopolize science and knowledge". It's up to a sovereign Iran to decide whether it needs nuclear fuel. "Why should we need fuel from you? You don't even give us spare parts for aircraft."
He also stressed that Iran is a victim of terrorism - a reference to the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a micro-terrorist group by any other name, formerly protected by Saddam, now supported by the Bush administration; but he was also referring to destabilizing black ops by US special forces in the strategically crucial provinces of Khuzestan and Balochistan.
Ahmadinejad was not questioned in detail on internal repression, intimidation of independent journalists, what his Interior Ministry is up to, from a crackdown on women not wearing the veil properly to more sinister, unsubstantiated "collaboration with America" charges. When executions were mentioned, he quipped, "Don't you have capital punishment in the US?" - and defended them on the ground that these were drug smugglers.
Nobody questioned him on his disastrous economic policies, on the competence of his ministers, on an embryonic pact between Iran and Saudi Arabia to prevent another war in the Middle East, on the upcoming, pivotal summit of the Caspian littoral states in Tehran where Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Vladimir Putin will discuss what happens next - from technical aspects of Iran's nuclear program to Bush's warmongering impetus. Anyway, Ahmadinejad made it clear: Iran is "ready to negotiate with all countries". The same could not be said about the Bush White House........]
To read Escobar's entire article, please click here.