A day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's anti-Israeli speech at the UN General Assembly, President Shimon Peres said Thursday that the hard-line leader was the antithesis of moral.
Speaking to 1,000 students at the Kfar Hayarok school in central Israel, Peres said, "If there's anyone who is the antithesis of moral and of the Jewish people it's the Iranian leader Ahmadinejad."
"He preaches murder, hate, terror and the use of nuclear weapons for genocide," continued the president. "Ahmadinejad is a leader who belongs in the Middle Ages, a leader of darkness and gloom who seeks to kill like in the days of the Inquisition. The Iranian people feel that he is humiliating them and so they are rebelling against him. Yesterday, you all saw what it is to be anti-Jewish and how ugly it is. The whole world must stand like a firm cliff and fully condemn the defamatory words and shameful leadership of Ahmadinejad."
Earlier Thursday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman played down the significance of Ahmadinejad's speech, but not the significance of the walkout by Western delegates, saying it showed that Israel's diplomatic efforts were working.
"Ahmadinejad didn't say anything new," he told Army Radio. "What's important is the international response. Most countries of the free world got up and left, and that proves that our determination pays off."
In his speech Wednesday night, Iran's president assailed Israel for what he said was a "barbaric" attack on the Gaza Strip last winter, and claimed that the "brutalities in Gaza have not all been published."
In an apparent anti-Semitic reference, Ahmadinejad complained that a "small minority" controls politics, economics and culture across much of the world.
Western delegates, including those of Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, France, the UK, the US, Italy and Germany left the chamber when Ahmadinejad accused Israel of committing a genocide in Gaza.
Representatives of Israel and Canada were already outside the hall, having boycotted the speech in protest of Ahmadinejad's persistent denial of the Holocaust.
Mark Kornblau, spokesman for the US Mission to the United Nations, said, "It is disappointing that Mr. Ahmadinejad has once again chosen to espouse hateful, offensive and anti-Semitic rhetoric."
AP contributed to this report