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Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Ahmadinejad clarifies the meaning of "wiped out"

The standard meme, repeated in the article I'm about to cite here, is that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has called for Israel "to be wiped off the map." More than a year ago I wrote:
A reading of Ahmadinejad's statement suggests quite clearly that the "wiped off the map" is to be taken literally (i.e., that the political boundaries of the region should be redrawn), and not figurately as meaning "wiped off the face of the earth." He explicitly denies that he is talking about "A fight between Judaism and other religions," and explicitly describes the endpoint of the struggle in the Middle East by saying: "It will be over the day a Palestinian government, which belongs to the Palestinian people, comes to power; the day that all refugees return to their homes; a democratic government elected by the people comes to power." There is no talk of "driving the Jews into the sea" or "waging war against Israel" or anything remotely along those lines, merely the expression of support for the goal of a democratic Palestinian state.
Others, who could actually read the original in Farsi, argued for an interpretation of "eliminated from the pages of history," but I'd say that's virtually equivalent to what I wrote.

Now along comes Ahmadinejad, not particularly attempting to clarify the remark, but doing so anyway:

"Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out."
Now I hardly need to remind readers that the Soviet Union was not defeated militarily (although the Nazis tried), but self-destructed with a large push from the imperialist world. Nor was the country "destroyed" in any physical sense. What it was was literally (well, nearly literally) "wiped off the map" (or "wiped out" in the latest formulation), that is, the words "Soviet Union" no longer appear on any current map. And in just the same way, Ahmadinejad (and millions more around the world) envision the word "Israel" being "wiped off the map" as a more just, democratic state takes its place.

Incidentally, although the Soviet Union per se was not physically destroyed, hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of former residents of that country have perished thanks to the replacement of the socialist economy with a capitalist one, with life expectancy dropping sharply.

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