Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Why the world was shocked by Ahmadinejad’s Remarks

When Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his recent remarks about wiping Israel off the map, the world took note. Here was the new, somewhat untested, president of a sovereign state—a state trying to justify to the world why it deserved nuclear technology—openly calling for the genocide of the people of another state. But why was his call heard ‘round the world? Why haven’t other similar declarations received the same amount of attention?

As I wrote before, and as most Israel supporters know, his was hardly a new sentiment, but merely a reiteration of a view held by literally millions of Muslims, as well as the policy of not a few Muslim countries.

The reason the world responded with such shock to Ahmadinejad’s remarks was because most of the world’s states view the Israeli-Arab conflict as being driven primarily by the “occupation.” When one views the conflict thusly, two things occur: One, the onus to make peace falls almost completely on Israel’s lap. End the occupation, end the conflict. The second is that the psychotic, medieval-like anti-Semitism that permeates much of the Islamic world is downplayed or ignored, since it’s the “occupation” that drives the conflict, not shocking displays of hatred that are hard for sophisticated, humanist Westerners to comprehend or believe.

But Ahmadinejad is not a two-bit leader of a terrorist gang, nor is he an obscure journalist spewing hatred and conspiracy theories in publications from the Middle East that are not even in English. Instead, he’s the newly elected leader of a geopolitically significant country bent on arming itself with nuclear weapons. Thus, it was hard to ignore his words.

However, there is another reason why the world took note this time—finally. Ahmadinejad’s remarks came on the heels of Israel’s unilateral evacuation of the entire Gaza strip, as well as the uprooting of thousands of Jewish settlers that were living there. Immediately after Israel’s withdrawal, missiles began flying from Gaza into Israel. Since then, there have been numerous terrorist attack attempts, and a few that have been “successful.” Those who argued vehemently that the occupation drove the conflict, and that Israel needed to make more concessions, were caught with their pants around their ankles. In fell swoop Israel pulled the rug out from underneath their argument. Many people who were not ideologically opposed to Israel were forced to wonder what could possibly justify the orgy of violence that came on the heels of hitherto unheard of unilateral concessions

And in the midst of all that, the newly elected president of Iran made his infamous comments. The world had to take note.

Update: Daniel Pipes has a must-read related article.


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