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Wiped off the map

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    Place anti-Israel remarks in context Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi Saturday, November 5, 2005 http://www.detnews.com/2005/editorial/0511/05/E07-372491.htm
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2005
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      Place anti-Israel remarks in context
      Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi
      Saturday, November 5, 2005

      Controversy has surrounded President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of the
      Islamic Republic of Iran since making a highly criticized speech about
      Israel at a Teheran conference entitled "A World without Zionism." As
      an American Muslim, I would like to provide my personal opinion on
      some context of what the Iranian president meant when he reportedly
      said Israel is a "disgraceful blot" that should be "wiped off the
      map." My point is not to defend what he said, but to clarify some
      politicial double standards related to this issue.

      During the eight years of the Khatami presidency in Iran, he tried
      repeatedly to engage the world and especially Israel in a meaningful
      dialogue about the Palestinian issue. But Israel remained hostile to
      Iran, and on numerous occasions threatened Iran with military and
      possibly nuclear attacks. Why was there no similar media frenzy when
      Israel called for regime change in Iran?

      Ahmadinejad, like many Americans, objects to Israel's hostile behavior
      against the Palestinian people. After almost 60 years of United
      Nations resolutions on the occupation, Israel continues to refuse to
      abide by international law.

      Admadinejad's statement reflects the growing frustration of billions
      of people who are weary of Israel's refusal to fulfill its legal
      obligations to the Arabs. Israel continues to stockpile more than 200
      nuclear missiles and refuses to sign a nuclear nonproliferation
      agreement. We are faced with a nuclear proliferation crisis that
      threatens the safety not only of Palestine, but every country within
      reach of Israel's weapons.

      Radical words can hurt feelings, yet Israel's policy in the region has
      caused more than merely hurt feelings. Because Israel was created by
      war and the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their homes, of
      course those benefiting from these tragedies will react with
      guilt-related panic when call for justice for Palestinians.

      It is very clear that Ahmadinejad was not making an anti-Semitic
      statement. Jews live in Iran and have representatives in the
      Parliament. The Iranian president was referring to Israel's unjust
      political system.

      In fact, the Iranian president's quip can best be understood in the
      American context of the Declaration of Independence:

      "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
      equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
      Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of
      Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted
      among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

      Americans fought a civil war and struggled for a century to end racial
      discrimination. "One man, one vote" worked for us here in the United
      States, and it is worth a try in the Holy Land. Rather than exaggerate
      the significance of a few angry words, we must remain focused on the
      keys to peace and prosperity. Iran's provocative words offer a basis
      for a real dialogue and lasting peace. We must deal with Israel
      honestly and stop walking on eggshells.

      Israel must end the property confiscation of ethnic groups considered
      "inferior" to Jews. Israel must stop instigating violent conflicts in
      the Muslim world. Israel must return the occupied territories back to
      its original owners.

      The tensions between Iran and Israel will cease with Israel's
      fulfillment of its humanitarian and international obligations.

      Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn


      Wiped off the map
      Thursday, October 27, 2005

      Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has caused a political storm by
      calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map". The hardline
      authoritarian President was speaking in front of 3,000 students at a
      conference in Tehran entitled "The World without Zionism".

      The west reacted angrily to Ahmadinejad's statement. The British
      Foreign Office described it as "sickening". The White House said that
      it "underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear operations".
      Israel's Vice-Prime Minister Shimon Peres called for Iran's expulsion
      from the UN, saying that the remark "contravenes the United Nations
      charter and is tantamount to a crime against humanity".

      Whilst this reaction might sound like moral outrage, it can hardly be
      described as such. The term `moral outrage' describes anger provoked
      by the violation of some ethical principle. To allow ourselves to be
      morally offended by one nation's president calling for another country
      to be "wiped off the map" we must first have ensured that our own
      actions do not contravene the same operative ethical principles. In
      this respect, every citizen of the UK, the US and Israel has a very
      long road to travel.

      In 1947, the UN decreed that historic Palestine should be partitioned,
      with 56 percent of the land going to the 600,000 strong Jewish
      population and the remaining 44 percent going to the 1.2 million
      strong Arab population. Earlier, in 1938, the Zionist leader David
      Ben-Gurion, later the first Prime Minister of Israel, wrote, "[I am]
      satisfied with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption
      that after we build up a strong force following the establishment of
      the state -- we will abolish the partition of the country, and we will
      expand to the whole Land of Israel". In the 1947-49 Arab-Israeli war,
      around 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their
      historic homeland by Israeli forces subjecting them to assasinations,
      rapes and massacres. Israel seized about 78 percent of the British
      'Mandate' Palestine by force of arms, with Egypt and Jordan taking the
      remainder. The Palestinian state decreed by the international
      community had been forcibly `wiped off the map', to use Ahmadinejad's
      phrase. Successive Israeli governments ensured that it was never to

      Does calling for the elimination of a state constitute "a crime
      against humanity", as Shimon Peres contends? If so, then Ahmadinejad
      would be joined in the dock by every Israeli official who has not only
      advocated but effected the policy of expansionism that continues to
      prevent a Palestinian nation state from emerging. The list would be
      long and illustrious. In 1936, Ben Gurion said that "the boundaries of
      Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no
      external factor will be able to limit them". Moshe Dayan, famed
      military commander and later an Israeli government minister told the
      youth of Israel that expansionism was a continuous enterprise. "You
      have not started it, and you will not finish it!". Elsewhere, he said
      that "[Israel] must see the sword as the main, if not the only,
      instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral
      tension. Toward this end it may, no - it must - invent dangers, and to
      do this it must adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge...And
      above all - let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that
      we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space".

      Since 1967 Israel has held further occupied territory in open defiance
      of international law. It has built vast settlements on that land and
      repressed the occupied population with a ferocity that has been savage
      in the extreme (more of which in a moment). In spite of this Shimon
      Peres has, with considerable self-restraint, never described Israel's
      actions as crimes against humanity, or conceded its right to be a part
      of the United Nations, whose laws it treats with utter contempt.

      The outrage displayed by western politicians at Ahmadinejad's denial
      of Israel's right to exist was nowhere to be seen when Dov Weisglass,
      one of the principal advisers to Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, set out
      his government's strategy to prevent the creation of a Palestinian
      state in an interview last year. Weisglass was describing the policy
      aims behind the fraudulent Gaza withdrawal plan. Recounting the
      interview, Le Monde Diplomatique noted that "according to Weisglass,
      Sharon decided to give up Gaza, which he had never considered as a
      national interest, to save the settlements in the West Bank and, more
      important, to prevent any negotiated agreement with the Palestinians".

      In the interview, Weisglass left very little to the imagination:
      "There was a very difficult package of commitments that Israel was
      expected to accept. That package is called a political process. You
      know, the term `political process' … is the establishment of a
      Palestinian state …. [its] the evacuation of settlements, it's the
      return of refugees, it's the partition of Jerusalem…we succeeded in
      taking that .. and sending it beyond the hills. Effectively, this
      whole package that is called the Palestinian state, with all that it
      entails, has been removed from our agenda indefinitely".

      Did the stated intention of keeping Palestine off the map
      "indefinitely" cause the White House any of the "concern" it expressed
      this week at the remarks of the Iranian President? Hardly. Weisglass
      boasted that he had achieved "all this with authority and permission.
      All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses
      of Congress."

      Israel enacted the plan, making a great show of leaving 19 sq miles in
      Gaza and evacuating 8,500 illegal settlers, whilst expropriating 23 sq
      miles in the West Bank Land and introducing 14,000 illegal settlers
      there. The land grab would also involve, Sharon and Weisglass
      declared, the permanent annexation of the whole of Jerusalem,
      including the Arab eastern segment. Far from finding this whole
      charade "sickening" as the UK Foreign Office described Ahmadinejad's
      remarks, Tony Blair wrote to Ariel Sharon, saying "I greatly admire
      the courage with which you have developed and implemented this policy".

      Despite Israel's continued expansionism, open dismissal of Palestinian
      self-determination, brutal treatment of civilians in the occupied
      territories and total rejection of international law, the Blair
      government expresses its "admiration" for Sharon's "courage" far more
      profoundly than with warm words alone. The historian Mark Curtis,
      formerly of Chatham House and a specialist in British foreign policy,
      notes that "[UK] arms exports [to Israel] doubled from 2000 to 2001,
      reaching £22.5 million as Israel stepped up aggression in the occupied
      territories. Supplies included small arms, grenade-making kits and
      components for equipment such as armoured fighting vehicles, tanks and
      combat aircraft. [The UK] has recently supplied Israel with machine
      guns, rifles, ammunition, components for tanks and helicopters, leg
      irons, electric shock belts, tear gas and categories covering mortars,
      rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons and military explosives".

      The contribution of Britain's principal ally, the United States,
      hardly requires any review. By one estimate, US support for Israel
      between 1973 and 2002, military and otherwise, totalled $1.6 trillion,
      over $5,700 per head of population, more than twice the cost of the
      Vietnam War.

      Moral outrage on the part of Britain and the US was conspicuously
      absent, as the weapons they had sold to Israel were put into murderous
      effect during the early years of the second intifada. US historian
      Norman G. Finkelstein describes the conduct of our Israeli ally: "To
      repress Palestinian resistance, a senior Israeli officer in early 2002
      urged the army to "analyze and internalize the lessons of…how the
      German army fought in the Warsaw ghetto." Judging by Israeli carnage
      in the West Bank culminating in Operation Defensive Shield - the
      targeting of Palestinian ambulances and medical personnel, the
      targeting of journalists, the killing of Palestinian children "for
      sport" (Chris Hedges, New York Times former Cairo bureau chief), the
      rounding up, handcuffing and blindfolding of all Palestinian males
      between the ages of 15 and 50, and affixing of numbers on their
      wrists, the indiscriminate torture of Palestinian detainees, the
      denial of food, water, electricity, and medical assistance to the
      Palestinian civilian population, the indiscriminate air assaults on
      Palestinian neighborhoods, the use of Palestinian civilians as human
      shields, the bulldozing of Palestinian homes with the occupants
      huddled inside - it appears that the Israeli army followed the
      officer's advice. When the operation, supported by fully 90 percent of
      Israelis, was finally over, 500 Palestinians were dead and 1500 wounded."

      Finkelstein quotes a Human Rights Watch report on the Israeli assault
      on the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002. According to the report, a
      "thirty-seven-year-old paralyzed man was killed when the IDF [Israel
      Defense Forces] bulldozed his home on top of him, refusing to allow
      his relatives the time to remove him from the home"; a
      "fifty-seven-year-old wheelchair-bound man…was shot and run over by a
      tank on a major road outside the camp…even though he had a white flag
      attached to his wheelchair"; "IDF soldiers forced a
      sixty-five-year-old woman to stand on a rooftop in front of an IDF
      position in the middle of a helicopter battle."

      An Israeli soldier who operated a bulldozer in the assault on Jenin
      breathlessly described the experience: "I wanted to destroy
      everything. I begged the officers…to let me knock it all down, from
      top to bottom. To level everything…. For three days, I just destroyed
      and destroyed…. I found joy with every house that came down, because I
      knew that they didn't mind dying, but they cared for their homes. If
      you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people for generations.
      If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp
      down.…I had plenty of satisfaction. I really enjoyed it."

      As pressure builds on Iran over its nuclear weapons programme, the
      remarks made by President Ahmadinejad will be seized upon as evidence
      of Iran's pathological depravity, and justification for the
      increasingly menacing stance the US and the UK are taking towards it.
      Tony Blair expressed his "revulsion" at the Iranian President's
      statement. Saying that he had never heard of the president of a
      country saying they wanted to wipe out another country, Blair added:
      "Can you imagine a state like that with an attitude like that having a
      nuclear weapon?". The Prime Minister is of course well aware that he
      has no need to use his imagination. His government arms and otherwise
      backs just such a country: Israel.

      Ahmadinejad's remarks were offensive indeed. But if our disgust is to
      rise anywhere above the level of mere hypocrisy we should first
      acknowledge, reverse, and atone for the material support we have given
      to those who deny a people's right to self-determination, not just in
      word, but in savage bloody deed.



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