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Saturday, August 05, 2006


What is "the Zionist regime"?

The Washington Post headlines an AP article on the latest speech of Iranian President Ahmadinejad with this: "Ahmadinejad: Destroy Israel, End Crisis." Even Billmon, who qualifies as more "left" than "liberal," and who steered me to this article, characterizes it thusly: "Other than sending their own dimwit of a president out to opine that the solution to the crisis is to drive Israel into the sea (bin Laden: Damn, why didn't I think of that?) the Iranians are keeping their heads well down."

So, did Ahmadinejad really talk about "driving Israel into the sea" or "destroying Israel," as Billmon or the Washington Post would have it? Hardly. The speech isn't posted on IRNA yet, but here's the quote from the Post: "Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented," and later quotes him saying that "the Middle East would be better off 'without the existence of the Zionist regime' and that "Israel 'is an illegitimate regime, there is no legal basis for its existence.'" What can I say? Does it really take great knowledge to understand that the "Zionist regime" is not "Israel," but the existing system of government in the land occupied by Israel. Maybe you think Israel has a right to exist (within, say, the 1967 borders) or maybe you don't and agree that it is an "illegitimate regime," but there isn't a word in what Ahmadinejad says that even remotely suggests he wants to "destroy Israel" or "drive it into the sea." All he's asking for is "regime change." And isn't that a concept that Americans, more than anyone else, should be able to grasp?

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