by Arundhati Roy
Rockefeller to Mandela, Vedanta to Anna Hazare…. How long can the cardinals of corporate gospel buy up our protests?
by Arundhati Roy
by Uri Friedman
Here is the passage in question from Ahmadinejad’s 2005 speech in Persian, rough transliteration, and Times translation (we’ve taken what appears to be the full line in Persian from an archived transcript of Ahmadinejad’s address):
امام عزيز ما فرمودند كه اين رژيم اشغالگر قدس بايد از صفحه روزگار محو شود
Imam ghoft een rezhim-i eshghalgar-i Qods bayad az safheh-i ruzgar mahv shaved
Our dear Imam said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map
Let’s isolate the key phrases in the line:
So there you have it. Depending on who you ask, Ahmadinejad was either endorsing Khomeini’s battle cry for Israel to be wiped off the map or invoking Khomeini’s wish that, someday, somehow, the Israeli government will collapse under its own weight. The varying translations, of course, may be inextricably linked to people’s political views on Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And some argue that the distinction is academic at this point. In a study for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Joshua Teitelbaum states that Ahmadinejad’s public statements, taken as a whole, indicate that the Iranian leader is bent on the “actual physical destruction of the State of Israel,” however one may translate his 2005 speech. Other Iranian leaders, he adds, have made even more militant comments.
And what of Ahmadinejad himself? He hasn’t exactly brought closure to the debate. In a 2006 interview with The Washington Post‘s Lally Weymouth, he evaded her question about whether he wanted to “wipe Israel off the face of the Earth,” in Weymouth’s words. “Let the Palestinian people decide their fate in a free and fair referendum, and the result, whatever it is, should be accepted,” he told Weymouth. “The people with no roots there are now ruling the land.”
More recently, Ahmadinejad has declared that a NATO missile defense system in Turkey “will not stop the fall of the Zionist regime” and that Iran’s response to any provocation by the “bankrupt, uncivilized and criminal Zionist regime” would be “crushing and regrettable.” Well, at least he said those things according to the Fars News Agency’s English translation.
*note: originally published on October 5, 2011 on The Atlantic Wire. Original here.