It is not every day that all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council rally to Israel's defense. The wider context of the unanimous vote on Friday condemning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls to "wipe Israel off the map," however, must be concern that condemnations, in this case, are not enough.
Iran's Foreign Ministry has since sought to downplay Ahmadinejad's embarrassing remarks, but only compounded them with a pack of lies, namely that Iran is "committed to its UN charter commitments" and has "never used force against a second country or threatened the use of force." Last we checked, the UN charter does not permit turning the fomenting of terrorism against a range of countries into a staple of a nation's foreign policy. We also fail to see how Iran's repeated - the most recent were not the first - calls to destroy Israel are not "threats of force."
Nor was the Iranian president's call some offhand remark taken out of context. The context was a speech at a conference of students majoring in "world without Zionism" studies, showing that the desire to destroy Israel is being actively developed as a part of a comprehensive ideology by the regime.
Moreover, unlike his diplomats Ahmadinejad seems eager to dispel any ambiguities. On Friday, this time fanning emotions at the anyway virulently anti-Israel "Jerusalem Day" rallies, Ahmadinejad repeated his assertions that Israel is "a blot which must be erased from the map." He seemed to go out of his way to disprove Western delusions that his bark may be worse than his bite. Ahmadinejad in fact keeps barking, as if to underscore that he didn't misspeak and wasn't just carried away by the volatile crowds and the occasion.
As to his bite, Iran is the chief sponsor of Islamic Jihad, the terrorist organization that just murdered five Israelis in Hadera. There is, in addition, no doubt that Iran is involved in the terrorist onslaught that has taken the lives of so many Iraqis, Americans, and others in Iraq.
If that weren't enough, Iran has nuclear aspirations and may be only months away from that fateful point of no return, when it would be capable of manufacturing atomic warheads for long-range missiles already in its arsenals.
Iran is the quintessential rogue state. As amply evident from Ahmadinejad's rhetoric, his country has motive for malevolence, and will soon have the means and the opportunity to create even more devastation, depending only on its own caprice.
This is cause for deep existential anxiety for us. Israel obviously tops Iran's hit list. America is next but no European nation can afford complacency.
Iran's missiles can reach quite far and the pretext may be irrational and fanatic from the Western perspective - certainly nothing which goodwill or appeasement can mitigate.
Some of the gravity of the Iranian peril seems to have at last impressed itself on the international community and hence condemnations of Ahmadinejad's declarations from the UN Security Council, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and British Premier Tony Blair, to name but a few.
Even official Israel, which had become largely inured to insults that other nations would not tolerate, seemed to realize that this is no commonplace verbal onslaught and has urged that Iran be expelled from the UN. No one expected such a call to be heeded, but it had to be made.
In addition, Israel should be pointing out the obvious: that Iran's genocidal call against Israel is not just one country's problem. Iran's support for terrorism, its nuclear ambitions, and its threats against Israel are not isolated concerns. They must be addressed as a package by the community of nations as a whole.
This means moving beyond condemnations to doing what the UN charter was designed to do: protect international peace and security by imposing stiff multilateral sanctions against international aggressors. The charter, which the Iranian regime has the gall to wrap itself in, was written to be used in precisely such instances. We hope, not just for our own sake but for the world's, that Iran's contempt for that charter and the nations meant to implement it are misplaced.
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Salomon Benzimra, Toronto, Canada:
Mr. Ahmadinejad's declaration is close to a call for genocide. There is a legal precedent of the international response to this kind of incitement: the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
condemned three media executives to long jail sentences for "incitement to genocide and crimes against humanity," not for what they did, but just for what they said, and the massacre that resulted from their call to murder in 1994.
Why should we wait until after another massacre is committed?
Jeremy Paton, UK:
A column in the anti-Israel British newspaper "The Independent
" today compared Ahmadinejad's threat of a new Holocaust with the kind of thing Hitler used to say before launching the second world war. Ahmadinejad, like Hitler, was threatening not only Israel but any other country that recognizes Israel, which includes most of the world. It is not surprising that the revelation than an oil-rich country is trying to bring about nuclear world war both frightened and angered many members of the United Nations, including some of Iran's friends and business partners. For the Jewish people, 2005 is different from 1939 in one important respect: in 1939 we were almost completely defenseless with no state of Israel and no army. We still have one dangerous weakness, however, which is the fact that the international media is full of anti-Israel propaganda and there is no international television channel promoting world peace and recognition of Israel by those countries like Iran which still refuse to do so.
What do you think will happen when Iran gets the bomb? The Palestinians will get cold feet and flee, that's what's going to happen. They might even be encouraged by their leaders to leave since Iran won't use the bomb if they risk killing millions of Palestinians. Go on then, leave so Iran can remove Israel from the map!
Ho-hum, Iran getting the bomb might be a good idea after all.
Albert Bello, Toronto, Canada:
I believe Israel is entitled to demand Iran a direct meeting, in public, to clarify Iran's president intentions.
A statement "to wipe out Israel" requires an apology.
With Iran's refusal to meet Israeli delegates on this matter, the UN should consider to expel Iran from "United Nations"
If President Ahmadinejad's
words really are the wish of the Iranian people, the UN should not allow Iran to continue its nuclear progress in any way, shape or form.
Laura, United States:
"The Iranian press, according to MEMRI's
translation of his speech, called for the elimination of the 'Zionist regime.'"
This seems to be the new spin point by apologists for Islamo-fascists. I read this "explanation" earlier today on another board. Everyone knows exactly what the Iranian tyrant meant in his speech.
Dan Friedman, NYC:
"It is not every day that all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council rally to Israel's defense."
Nobody's doing you any favors. If "the members" thought Iran could "wipe you off the map" without the risk of Israel wiping the Iranian oilfields off the map in return, and the nuke cloud drifting over Europe, they wouldn't have bothered to deal with the subject at all.
The Iranian press, according to MEMRI's translation of his speech, called for the elimination of the 'Zionist regime'. No different from the crazy Israeli-US-neocon's calls for 'regime change'. Except that these crazies have threatened military action against Iran. Israel has said that it will not tolerate an Iran with the same capabilities it has.
Calling for the eradication of Zionism is as wishful as calling for the eradication of its sister evils - Muslim and Christian and Hindu fundamentalism.
The argument that Zionism equals Judaism equals Israel equals Jews made by the Western media is unconscious anti-Semitism. Removal of the Zionist regime in Israel [and probably in the US] would bring peace, we hope, as would a similar change in Saudi Arabia
Nevertheless, Iran is a stable country that has mechanisms for educating the new president - the former street sweeper who boot strapped himself via a democratic election to the presidency. Consider the mob and horse trading of the Israeli regime's 'elections' or the frauds of the American one.
Oh, well, the world's not yet perfect.
Ron, GA, USA:
The comments coming from Iran's top elected official shouldn't surprise anyone. This type of rhetoric out of Islam is an everyday thing. Even if they achieve nuclear weapons they are not as dumb as they sound. They are so far behind militarily, starting a war would surely be the end of their madness and they know it. The few that lead privileged lives over the masses of poor that have nothing to cling to but radicalism, stoke this fire. They stoke it for their own gain, for greed, they are masters of this. They don't hold fair elections when they do hold them, for the simple reason they would be replaced and punished. They have no other pulpit from which to preach their greed, do they? So, the worry is not with supreme leaders, or crazies like Ahmadinajad. It's to the uneducated poor who believe what they say and have nothing else to cling to for hope. Someday, the Muslim world may come to their senses and realize we can live in peace, and that being hell bent on the destruction of Israel will no doubt lead to their own.
Rabbi David Hoffman, Cape Town, South Africa:
It is easy to understand why everyone tends to lose perspective when approaching the very necessary condemnation of Iranian governmental genocidal intention, but that is all the more reason to maintain level headedness in our responses. At all times we must condemn the government, but praise the people and its civilization, which is as old as our own. When one calls for the expulsion of Iran from the United Nations, as did Shimon Peres
, and does not differentiate between government and people, one is seemingly helping to push the proudly nationalist Iranian people into the hands of their reactionary leaders. Has the world of political persuasion become so oversimplified that this fundamental distinction cannot be written into the regular beat that is drummed out by our spokespeople?
Herb Glatter, Pittsburgh, PA, USA:
Repeating statements to destroy Israel made by Khomenei, former president Rafsanjani "prays for a Muslim atomic bomb to destroy Israel, would be worth the retaliation of 200 Israeli atomic bombs" is worrisome enough. Ahmadjinead threat to those Muslim nations that engaged Israel with Islamic "fire" was heard clearly in Riyadh
, and Islamabad
. Let me remind you that the Palestinians have already "wiped Israel from the map" in all their official logos, textbooks.
Robert Koslover, Tyler, TX, USA:
You say that "Iran's genocidal call against Israel is not just one country's problem. Iran's support for terrorism, its nuclear ambitions, and its threats against Israel are not isolated concerns. They must be addressed as a package by the community of nations as a whole." Well, the international community is well aware of this and does indeed have a plan: their plan is to deal strongly with Iran just as soon as Israel is destroyed, and not a moment sooner.
You can almost forget the help of the UN. The UN has one goal, and that is to make money to be pocketed by the few elite. I think I would make it clear of the ramifications that will come about if Iran does indeed get nuclear weapons. I just don't get the feeling that most of the world understands the gravity of the situation. With the world the way it is, this is not an Israeli problem, but a global problem. No one will escape the results of a maniacal regime with the power to destroy on that scale.
Owen Cramer, Canada:
Is the rally to support Israel by the UN out of protection of Israel, or rather out of fear of Israel's response? I think because the World knows of Israel's nuclear arsenal and that there is a concern of Iran rattling Israel's sabre too much. Hence it may be because of Israel's strength that the world supports her and not out her weakness.
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