Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Anti-War Conscience

Manouchehr Mottaki, the foreign minister of Iran, has echoed his president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for Israel's destruction:

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called on the world's Muslims on Sunday to work to "erase" Israel, in the latest verbal attack by Tehran against the Jewish state.

"As the Imam Khomeini said, if each Muslim throws a bucket of water on Israel, Israel will be erased," Mottaki told a conference in Tehran, recalling a saying by Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sparked international outrage for his repeated attacks against Israel, which he has predicted is doomed to disappear and described as a "stinking corpse" and a "dead rat".

His most notorious attack was in 2005 when he repeated another saying from Khomeini calling for Israel to be "wiped from the map".

Mottaki added: "More than ever, the Zionist regime is disintegrating from within. Today, the Islamic resistance in this region has shattered the regime's legend of invincibility."

While Ahmadinejad and top military commanders reguarly predict the demise of Israel, such virulent attacks from the foreign ministry are relatively unusual.

This latter point is key. When Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be wiped off the map at the World Without Zionism conference in Tehran, Foreign Minister Mottaki was one of the Iranian government officials who came forward claiming that Ahmadinejad didn't really mean what he said. This fueled both the notions that the Iranian president was merely speaking metaphorically, and that no matter what he meant, Ahmadinejad is just a "puppet" whose opinions will not translate into government policy. Mottaki's defense was interpreted as a demurral to hard-line sabre-rattling by saner elements in the Iranian government.

Now, if we work within the framework set by Ahmadinejad's apologists in 2005, Iran's war party appears to have enlarged, but we need not do to be alarmed. Mottaki's foreign ministry also has been busy reassuring Hamas that a Syrian détente with Israel will not lessen Iran's support for its genocidal enterprise.

When Ahmadinejad trumpeted his desire to see Israel destroyed, a clutch of liars arose to retail the disinformation that he was mistranslated. They were led by Juan Cole and largely comprised left-wing foes of Israel. Minimizing or falsifying his words, they alternately claimed that he was expressing simple anti-Zionism, that he was calling for mere regime change, and, most risibly, in the words of Cole himself, that Ahmadinejad's statement was "in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem."

Insofar as Mottaki's echo of Ahmadinejad is noticed at all -- so far almost no one is reporting it -- it will be answered by the same apologists, who will do anything, even extenuate plainly genocidal decrees against Jews, to prevent a war against Iran. This is the "anti-war" conscience.

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