Ahmadinejad’s calls for eliminating Israel
With all respect, I believe my summary of the substantive non-jurisdictional issues raised by the genocide claim was, while brief, quite complete, non-tendentious, and fully engaged in the substance.
I stated quite clearly that Ahmadinejad called for the elimination of the state of Israel. While I think it is well understood that this would be accomplished by military means involving the slaughter of the Jewish population, I also said quite clearly that this is not what he directly called for. Indeed, I specifically stated that on this basis I think one could argue that he lacks the specific intent necessary for genocide. That is the crux of the substantive argument.
Professor Heller’s suggestion that Ahmadinejad was simply calling for the end of the Israeli government is untenable.
The Wikipedia entry cited by Professor Heller discusses differing interpretations of a speech of Ahmadinejad in 2005. The speech took place in a conference in Tehran entitled “The World Without Zionism,” organized by the Association of Islamic Students Societies. The translation controversy concerns a single phrase (“be wiped off the face of the earth”) in the following paragraph (the following is the translation provided by the Iranian government news agency ISNA):
“Our dear Imam [Ayatollah Khomeni] ordered that the occupying regime in Al-Qods be wiped off the face of the earth. This was a very wise statement. The issue of Palestine is not one on which we could make a piecemeal compromise… This would mean our defeat. Anyone who would recognize this state [Israel] has put his signature under the defeat of the Islamic world. In his struggle against the World Arrogance, our dear Imam targeted the central and command base of the enemy, namely the occupying regime in Al-Qods.”
A later paragraph adds: “The issue of Palestine will only be resolved when all of Palestine comes under Palestinian rule, when all the refugees return to their homes, and when a popular government chosen by this nation takes the affairs in its hands. Of course, those who have come to this land from far away to plunder this land have no right to participate in the decision-making process for this nation… God willing, [the Palestinian struggle] will pave the way for the annihilation of the Zionist regime and it will be a downhill route.”
It is perfectly clear from this that — irrespective of whether one translates the controversial phrase as “be wiped off the face of the earth” as did the Iranian news agency, or as “vanish from the page of time,” as did Juan Cole — Ahmadinejad is calling for the elimination of the state of Israel and its replacement with a state of Palestine in which Jews will have no right to participate. The euphemism of “Zionist regime” is an old and familiar one for the Jewish state of Israel. It does not refer to any particular government of that state. Similarly the reference to the Jewish population of Israel as “those who have come to this land from far away to plunder this land” is a familiar one, and is particularly appropriate to Ahmadinejad who speaks of the Jewish population of Israel as interlopers imposed on the Middle East by Europe in response to the Holocaust.
It is quite clear that the “Zionist regime” here refers to the state of Israel under any government, rather than a particular government in Israel. Thus, it is quite misleading for Professor Heller to suggest that Ahmadinejad was “calling for the end of the Israeli government.”
Even Juan Cole, who claims that there is no call for eliminating Israel (which claim I referred to as apologetics in my earlier posting) does not pretend that Zionist regime means anything other than the state of Israel. Cole’s claim is that Ahmadinejad wasn’t calling for Israel’s elimination; he was just predicting it. Of course, Cole’s claim is rather difficult to maintain in the face of the speech’s suffusion with military imagery.
For instance: “In his struggle against the World Arrogance, our dear Imam targeted the central and command base of the enemy, namely the occupying regime in Al-Qods.”
Or: “… There is a historic battle going on between the Oppressor World and the Islamic world … [T]he Oppressor World created the regime occupying Al-Qods as the bridgehead for its domination of the Islamic world. Bridgehead is a military term in warfare. … The occupying state [Israel] is the bridgehead of the Oppressor World in the heart of the Islamic world. … The battle that is going on in Palestine today, therefore, is the frontline of the conflict between the Islamic world and the Oppressor World. It is a battle of destiny that will determine the fate of hundreds of years of conflict in Palestine. … I must say that you have chosen a very valuable title for your gathering [World Without Zionism]. … you know well that this slogan and goal can be achieved and can definitely be realised.”
Incidentally, this speech is not the only instance in which Ahaminejad has called for the annihilation of the “Zionist regime.” See, for example, this Washington Post story, which I linked in my original post, stating that the main solution for Israeli-Hezbollah fighting in south Lebanon was “the elimination of the Zionist regime.”
See also, this report of Ahmadinejad explaining that “the fact is that Israel can ultimately not continue its existence.”