Things Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not do: 1) deny the Holocaust; 2) say that Israel should be wiped off the map; 3) develop a nuclear weapons program

Intro

With the Iranian election results disputed (a dispute that the incumbent will likely win), I think it’s important to revisit the American conventional wisdom about the Iran and its president. Suspicious sources and a lazy media echo-chamber have instilled many misconceptions into the American public’s mind about Iran. This is worrisome because such misconceptions leave the American public vulnerable for the type of hawkish manipulations that led us into the Iraq war, and so for that reason US attitudes towards Iran need reexamining.

Nuclear Weapons Program

Top among the controversies surrounding Iran is the issue of their nuclear development. One goal of Iran’s energy policy is to use nuclear energy for domestic energy needs so that more of Iran’s oil supplies can be diverted for foreign sale.

In developing their domestic nuclear energy program Iran has often skirted certain IAEA regulations, with the ostensible reason being that strict adherence to the rules has allowed the US to sabotage nuclear development contracts forged between Iran and other countries. This evasion of IAEA directives has been the primary basis on which Iran has been accused of having a nuclear weapons program.

However, in 2007, part of a United States National Intelligence Estimate was leaked that concluded that Iran had not worked on a nuclear weapons program since 1993. Ironically, Iran’s first nuclear weapons programs was facilitated by America in the 1950s.

“Vanish from the page of time” vs. “wiped from the map”

Since he was elected in 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has received much criticism on his comments regarding Israel. The most famous of these was given in a speech called “A World Without Zionism” in which he quoted a line from Ayatollah Khomeini.

An improper English translation painted him as calling for Israel to be “wiped from the map.” When word got out there was an international uproar. As it happens, in Persian there is no such idiom. More accurate translations read “The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem must [vanish from] the page of time.”

The focus of the speech was a hopeful vision of a world free from Western oppression of Muslims, and, in context, it is clear that this is not policy—much less a military threat. In fact, Iran has never made a military threat against Israel. Israel has against Iran, though—many, many times.

Holocaust Denial

Ahmadinejad has also met sharp international criticism over his comments on the Holocaust. The widespread and misleading allegation is that he denies that the Holocaust ever occurred.

It is undoubtedly true that Ahmadinejad has raised some uncomfortable questions about the Holocaust. Indeed, in December 2006, he even convened a conference to explore historical evidence for the Holocaust, and he also occasionally referred to people making “a myth” of the Holocaust.

However, as Iran Specialist Professor Shiraz Dossa states, while Ahmadinejad’s “rhetoric has been excessive and provocative,” he“has not denied the Holocaust or proposed Israel’s liquidation. What Ahmadinejad has questioned is the mythologizing, the sacralization, of the Holocaust.”

Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory statements are all in the context of the Palestinian struggle. The questions are put in terms of skepticism towards the Holocaust’s use in justifying Zionist colonialism in Palestine. The intellectual exploration, undoubtedly born of a deep, sometimes justified, mistrust for the West, has never crossed the line into outright denial of the Holocaust.

When such statements have been conflated with anti-Semitism, Ahmadinejad has repeatedly clarified his position with statements like “creating an objection against the Zionists doesn’t mean that there are objections against the Jewish.”

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, the recent election dispute in Iran leaves one questioning the democratic scruples of the country’s leadership. Ahmadinejad’s Iran is far from the idyllic liberal democracy. But, however great the fervor for Ahmadinejad’s opponent, one need be careful not to lose sight of how unfairly Western caricatures of Iran have influenced attitudes toward the incumbent worldwide—a habit long in the making and likely slow to change.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The source of all this mistranslation is MEMRI. MEMRI is operated by a group closely associated with the Israeli intelligence organizations. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=MEMRI Their sole purpose is to mistranslate Arabic and Iranian news to the end of inflaming US public opinion. It is simply amazing that the entirety of US Corporate Media do not do their own Farsi translation and relies on a propaganda purveyor for it’s translation

  2. Dann says:

    About time someone got some facts right. Good work.

  3. Kit says:

    The MEMRI thing is not true. The wipe from the pages of history quote actually comes from the official Iranian government translation. If the Iranian government doesn’t agree with this translation, then why do they still have that translation on their website? (Actually I got a 404 error when I tried to see it, but as of 2007 it was still up)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel#.22Wiped_off_the_map.22_or_.22Vanish_from_the_pages_of_time.22_translation

  4. alec says:

    Kit would know: he’s spend the first 26 years of his life denying the Holocaust.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ahmadinejad has been constantly misquoted – and also mistranslated. No liberal; but also no fool.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Gee, after reading this, I would just love to give that man a GRAT BIG HUG, he sounds like such a nice guy!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m glad that the Iranian government is taking appropriate steps to stop that silly protesting of the election results, what a bunch of sore losers! Ahmadinejad is the man!!

  8. Jim Bim © says:

    The media here sucks ass and always comes up with twisted shit, especially about muslims. Ahmadinejad definitely has his Cheneys and cigarette smoking man too though. the real creepy kind of bullied then bullies guys. they need help.

  9. Dirnov says:

    Greatings, Onload of page my antivirus put alert, check pls.

  10. Thanks for posting this clear information countering the war propaganda that many are falling for

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