Won’t Somebody Tell Juan Cole?

A couple of years ago, President Ahmadinejad of Iran made a speech in which he expressed the view that Israel should be “wiped from the map”.

Given Iran’s funding of Hezbollah and Hamas, and its eagerness to acquire nuclear weapons, it is pretty clear that Ahmadinejad meant precisely what he said: that Israel should be eliminated.

Calling for the destruction of a member state of the United Nations is, or at least should be, a serious matter.

However, fortunately for the President, Professor Juan Cole rushed to his defence, and explained that Ahmadinejad was the victim of malicious translation:

But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that “the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.” It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.

Later he repeated the argument:

Whatever this quotation from a decades-old speech of Khomeini may have meant, Ahmadinejad did not say that “Israel must be wiped off the map” with the implication that phrase has of Nazi-style extermination of a people. He said that the occupation regime over Jerusalem must be erased from the page of time.

Cole made the point again, here:

So, I have a suggestion for my readers. Every time you see a newspaper article that alleges that Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map, please write the editor. Say that this idiom does not exist in Persian, and that what Ahmadinejad actually said was, “This occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” And you can cite me.

If enough people do this often enough, the press will get tired of the propaganda line they are carrying, which is intended to whip up a manufactured war, and drop it. And that would be the most fitting response to Hitchens and his Neocon puppeteers.

Juan Cole’s line was repeated by newspaper commentators all over the world, including the Guardian’s Jonathan Steele.

Somebody should really explain to Iran, that their President did not call for Israel to be wiped off the map. And you can cite Juan Cole.

Here are two pictures from an anti-Israel rally in Tehran on 9 March 2008:

I’ve seen the “wiped off the map” quote in English on a number of banners, over time, coming from Iran. Just for the record, it would be nice to collect them on this page. If you’ve seen them around, post the URL below.

(Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon, dubi)


How about this:

via the NYT, from a billboard in Tehran: