Saturday, October 06, 2007

My Ahmadinejad experiment...

Hamas crowdI've always been sceptical with regards to the precise veracity of President Ahmadinejad's alleged "wipe Israel off the map" statement. Why? Let me begin by stating which aren't the reasons for my scepticism.

I'm not an Ahmadinejad or Iran supporter. The former is without a shimmer of doubt a president that isn't good news for Iran. He's also a Holocaust denier and enabler of millions of other mainly quite young Iranian Holocaust deniers. And Iranian internal views on Mr Ahmadinejad's policies are hardly unitedly positive, to put it very mildly.

But some of us that aren't too young or too ostrich-like will remember a currently raging Middle East war against another country starting with I and r. In the case of that illegal and immoral war too, the casus belli were similar to the sounds of the war drums being pounded against Iran. To justify Iraq, it was claimed that that country presented a clear and present danger to the world because of its alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that its then president, Saddam Hussein, had had a dab hand in the 9/11 atrocities. Subsequent evidence, much of it gathered prior to the invasion, the balance unearthed after the Iraqi army had been subdued in what can only be described as a walk-over, showed those claims to be almost complete baloney, either based on fabricated evidence or reports presented by the dumbest intelligence officers the world has hitherto known.

BlogRush advertIn the case of Iran, the Neocon casus belli that is being constructed and rammed down our throats through a variety of Washington's mouthpieces, is actually remarkably similar to le cas de l'Iraq. Here too, we see fear-mongering with regards to WMD that, at least at this point in time, clearly don't yet exist. Here too, the president of that country is being accused of mass-murderous intent, in this case vis-à-vis Israel.

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. And so, naturally, I feel deeply skeptical about some of the allegations that are being leveled at Iran. And I may not be an Iran-supporter, but I'm yet to be convinced that a justifiable case for war against that country can be built.

I'm not the only one of course. Some skeptics have gone much further than me and claim Ahmadinejad's alleged "wipe Israel off the map" is the result of a self-serving Western mistranslation from Farsi. In short, this argument claims that Ahmadinejad isn't calling for the destruction of Israel, by means of a conventional or a nuclear Holocaust, but that he is calling for an end to the "Zionist regime", in a similar way that the West worked towards ending the Soviet Communist regime and not the wholesale destruction of the USSR and the mass-slaughter of its citizenry.

Being torn between the two interpretations (the harder, more literal one and the softer "regime change" one) I decided to run a little experiment, the operative word here being little, because I don't proclaim that the experimental data gathered from it would deal either viewpoint the decisive blow it perhaps deserves.

I decided to ask some Iranian bloggers what they thought of the mistranslation argument. Was it true that Ahmadinejad wasn't actually referring to turning the Holy Land to waste land? That he was perhaps talking about regime change in much the same way we in the West cackle on quite a bit about that, notably
in the context of Iran herself?

No answers from these bloggers have as yet been forthcoming but one Iranian American got the problem referred to him and responded on my blog here and following our short discussion decide to put up a blog post of his own, addressing my question. The blogger in question goes by the handle Plateau and you can find his blog post on the subject at hand, here.

I was originally going to reprint Plateau's entire post on this space here but I think that wouldn't do it justice. The post relies on important graphical evidence as well as a number of outbound links, all of which would be difficult and time consuming to reproduce here in full. I would therefore urge readers to jump over to Plateau's post and read the source text.

So, what's my own conclusion? Well, it's probably impossible to establish exactly what Ahmadinejad has in mind when he makes statements like that. Even the imagery Plateau exhibits is open to interpretation. But what or what Ahmadinejad doesn't mean precisely is probably somewhat irrelevant. During his Columbia appearance when given a very public opportunity to answer the question of his intentions clearly by means of a simple yes or no, Ahmadinejad declined and dodged. Simply put, I broadly speaking accept Plateau's conclusions.

As regards the case for war against Iran, that's a much more complicated question and a different kettle of fish altogether...


At 8:08 PM, Blogger Eitan Ha'ahzari said...

I didn't have the patience to read your ramblings about Iran(it's always the same thing but then again, the same goes for my posts) but I just want to stress one thing: The mullahs of London will not be one bit sorry if(G-d forbid)Iran attains nuclear capability and eliminates Israel. And btw: that's a bunch of bull about monkey-face not meaning every single word that comes from his foul mouth.

At 9:23 PM, Blogger Gert said...


Not feeling to friendly today then? (wink)

At 12:07 AM, Blogger Eitan Ha'ahzari said...

Yeah guess not;) excuse me for the often grobby ramblings...

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Frank Partisan said...

It seems the WMD argument is so bankrupt, that Cheney is switching to want to bomb so called arms supply routes to Iraq.

At 1:17 PM, Blogger Gert said...

Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran... as John McCain would sing...

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Mad Zionist said...

Gert, any speech in a foreign language is subject to scrutiny about whether the proper intent of the speaker was communicated by the translation. Because of this, we must rely on the background and history of the speaker to give us a clear idea if the translation was an aberration of sorts, inconsistent with the speaker's past words and actions, or if it fits the pattern.

Ahmedinijad has a proven history of terrorism, openly denies the Holocaust - even hosted a conference for Holocaust denial - has repeatedly spoke out against Israel's right to exist, and has been an open supporter and supplier of Hizballah's attacks against Israel.

If you believe that this entire body of work is just a big misunderstanding you'd have to be a fool. Gert, open your eyes.

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Gert said...


"If you believe that this entire body of work is just a big misunderstanding [...]"

I never implied anything of that sort.


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