'Hitler speaks Persian,' says Knesset Speaker Rivlin

Rivlin warns of the dangers Ahmadinejad poses in letter to world parliamentarians.

Ahmadinejad UN racism conference 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Ahmadinejad UN racism conference 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
"This time, Hitler has a beard and speaks Persian," wrote Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday, in an impassioned letter to parliamentary counterparts abroad that called on legislators to take action against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and not to ignore his anti-Israel pronouncements and threats. Issued a day after the Iranian president's anti-Israel speech at the UN racism conference in Geneva, Rivlin turned to parliamentary leaders and asked them to "initiate action that will convey a clear message to the whole world that we have learned the lessons of the past and that 2009 will not be a repetition of 1939. "This morning, in contrast to Remembrance Days of past years, we the citizens of Israel, Jews all around the world and every man of conscience faced a new reality that we believed would never recur, a reality that we had thought was no longer possible in a world that had experienced the horrors of the Second World War," wrote Rivlin, after a description of Israel's commemoration of Yom Hashoah implying the ironic linkage between Ahmadinejad's speech and the annual memorial day. "Seventy-three years after the Berlin Olympics, yesterday the world witnessed the return of Adolf Hitler." Rivlin said that Ahmadinejad's words, aspirations and determination are identical to those of Hitler, and argued that the Durban II conference was similar to the "shameful Olympic event" in granting a platform to those beliefs. Rivlin complimented those delegates who walked out during Ahmadinejad's speech, but blasted the "hundreds of representatives of other countries" who "nodded in agreement and even cheered the words of the Iranian president. He also criticized UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon who, according to Rivlin, "remained in his chair and later softly and hesitantly condemned the appalling incitement." Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz, who met Sunday with the Iranian president, also received harsh treatment in Rivlin's missive, in which he said that the meeting "was carried out in the name of diplomatic protocol and the duty to maintain neutrality. Yesterday, more than a few Jews recalled Swiss neutrality during the 1940's." Rivlin described such neutrality as a "luxury" - and one that world leaders cannot afford under current conditions, which he said constituted a division between "the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness; the camp of the civilized world and the camp of the enemies of humanity." In such a situation, he argued, those who remain neutral also pay the price for "ignoring evil." "I therefore call upon you, my colleagues around the world, not to remain silent, not to turn away and above all not to think for one moment that Ahmadinejad is not a threat to you, too," concluded Rivlin.