(photo credit: Associated Press [file])
(The following are excerpts from a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that aired on Iranian News Channel (IRINN) on April 24, 2006, as provided by MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute.)
Iranian President Ahmadinejad: "The greatest problem from which humanity suffers today, the main problem facing the countries of the Middle East, is the continuation of the processes that took place during World War II ... Let's assume certain things did happen [in World War II]. Why should the people of the Middle East, for over 60 years, be paying for it under this pretext?
"... The same people who claim to have saved humanity, and to have prevented further massacre in World War II, and who avenged the victims of that war - why have they killed over 100,000 innocent people in 60 years... Why do they grieve over some of the victims only? Let's assume that the [Holocaust] were true - who should be punished for this? This is a serious question facing contemporary humanity.
"... Although they claim that their hearts bleed for the Jews, during World War II and following it they caused the widespread phenomenon of anti-Judaism in two or three European countries. If you support the Jews - how do you explain this anti-Judaism? Why did you turn Europe in its entirety into a place unsafe for the Jews? Could there possibly be any other reason than creating unsafe conditions for the Jews, so that they would flee and find shelter in Palestine?
"Why do you think they are safe in Palestine? These people, who left their homelands as a result of your pressure and anti-Judaism, went to a country that did not belong to them. Different minorities from different countries came to live side by side, just like pieces of paper joined together with a paper clip. They live in an atmosphere of insecurity on a daily basis. I've said this once, and I'll say it again: Open the gates of this big prison. Allow these people to decide freely, and you will see that they will return to their homelands. Of course, you must first let go of your anti-Judaism. You must let go of it. We believe that just like the rest of mankind, the Jews have the right to live a life of prosperity, freedom, and security. Set them free, and let them return to their homelands."
"... Now allow me to say a few words to the people of Germany and Austria. Look at the atmosphere in the world today. See how those who purport to promote human rights and democracy actually want to run the world. Sixty years ago a war took place, and 60 million people were killed by both sides. If we had any power in those days, we would have prevented this carnage. To the best of our ability we would not have allowed such a massacre. Sixty years have passed since that war, and the people of Palestine are still paying the price for a war in which they did not participate. The people of today's Germany are paying reparation for a war in which they themselves did not participate.
"My question is the following: Let's assume that 60 years ago a certain regime in Germany started a certain war, and certain crimes were committed. Three generations later - what is the fault of the current German generation that it must be so humiliated? Why can't it play an independent role in international relations? They are constantly being reminded that their parents were criminals. Monuments are built there. All countries build monuments for things that they are proud of, and when tourists come, they show them these monuments. Over there, they build monuments, and every German who passes by a park is constantly reminded: 'Look, you are the son of criminals, and you must be humiliated.'"
"... In culture, science, and international politics, Germany should have a prominent standing. But 60 years later, they are still held prisoner by a handful of people, who themselves had planned all the events of that era. Now they say that no one is allowed to talk about or research this event. Why not research it?"
"... Why should a small handful of people ignite the entire world, merely in order to fill their pockets? Why? We are against this method of running the world, and we say this clearly. I am declaring clearly that I am against the policies of the US and England in running the world. And by the way, I support peace and quiet, and I am a very peace-loving man.
"How come whenever someone criticizes you or exposes your mistakes, you attack him through the media that you finance, and portray him as a criminal? Wrong! Ahmadinejad is a schoolteacher and a very peace-loving man. To this day, I have never harmed an ant in my life. Allah willing, I will never harm any living or inanimate object."