More on the Iranian President’s comments

An Arab News editorial: Contrived Fury

It was certainly undiplomatic of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" at a conference on Zionism in Tehran. But the wave of Western fury, with countries such as Canada, France, the UK and Spain hauling in the Iranian ambassador and protesting, looks contrived.

Is this the same France that four years ago ignored the comments of its then ambassador in London, Daniel Bernard, who called Israel “that shitty little country”? Is this the same UK that likewise turned a deaf ear? Nor is it the first time an Iranian leader has used such language. Four years ago, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, regarded by the West as a moderate, called for the nuclear annihilation of Israel. The West did not blink an eye. Ever since the 1979 revolution, Iran has been consistently and vehemently anti-Israel. The rest of the world has known it and lived with it. It lived with the knowledge because it also knew that Iran was not in a position to wipe Israel off the map.

So why the apparent anger at something known? And why is it that only the West is making a fuss?

This response has far more to do with Western fears about Iran’s nuclear intentions than with its views about Israel. Washington, which does not have diplomatic relations with Tehran and so could not haul in the ambassador to protest, let the cat out of the bag when it said that the comment showed it was right to be concerned about Iran’s nuclear program.

This, of course, is Ahmadinejad the radical speaking, Ahmadinejad the politician who perhaps wants to divert attention from his government’s failure so far to deliver on his promises to Iran’s poor. That is where he needs to concentrate his energies and his passion. The danger is that with such rhetoric he gives his nation’s enemies the chance to act.

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