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March 9, 2012 8:07 am

Don’t Misread Iran’s Intentions, They Want Israel’s Destruction

avatar by Dore Gold

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Iran's Shabab 3 missile. Photo:

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul went out of his way just last month again to defend the Iranians. In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan broadcast on Feb. 3, the Texas Congressman objected to Morgan’s referring to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call for “wiping out Israel” in his famous speech of Oct. 26, 2005.

Paul said that Morgan was misquoting Ahamadinjad like “99 per cent of the media.” He tried to clarify the Iranian position by asserting that what Ahmadinjead called for was “removing the regime in charge of Jerusalem.” He argued that the Iranian leader “did not say that Israel should be wiped from the face of the Earth.” Removing a regime, according to Ron Paul, was like “getting rid of our administration.” Ron Paul made the same arguments on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox in December 2011.

Why should Israel care what Ron Paul says since he is not going to be the Republican nominee? He is not an expert in Farsi, the Iranian language. In any case, his position is not new, since he has been making this argument since 2007, when he raised it in the House of Representatives. Given that most public opinion polls indicate that the American people are overwhelmingly anti-Iranian, Paul’s ideas on Iran might be seen as off the wall by many. But as a presidential candidate, Ron Paul gets enormous television exposure to spread his ideas. Using the stage he has been given, he repeats his theories about Iran to millions of Americans.

Until now Paul’s ideas on Iran have been extremely unpopular. But, in a country like the U.S. where many felt deceived after Washington claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and then found none, Paul’s statements on Iran might gain traction, depending on how the crisis with Tehran develops. A tendency could develop in some circles to say that the whole Iranian threat is being exaggerated, in order to get the West to pull back from dealing with it. This is where Paul’s theories might come in.

To add to his credibility, Paul has also been backed by a number of Western academics, like Professor Juan Cole of the prestigious University of Michigan, who has argued that there is no such expression like “wipe off the map” in the Persian language. The truth is that the original translation of Ahmadinejad’s 2005 remarks was made by Nazila Fathi, who was the Tehran bureau chief of the New York Times. She decided to use a colloquial translation and not a literal translation, which would have been, “The Jerusalem-occupying regime must be erased from the page of time.”

No one has yet made the argument that what Ahmadinejad says is insignificant since real military power in Iran is held by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In fact, in the parliamentary elections held at the beginning of March, Khamenei loyalists have just crushed those candidates associated with Ahmadinejad’s camp. But the destruction of Israel is not just the position of Ahmadinejad alone. Indeed, well before Ahmadinejad’s 2005 speech, Khamenei himself said in 2001: “The foundation of the Islamic regime is opposition to Israel and the perpetual subject of Iran is the elimination of Israel from the region.”

The next time Ron Paul and others like him start questioning the veracity of the translations of Iranian leaders about the destruction of Israel, they should look carefully at video clips of Iranian military parades. On Sep. 22, 2004, the Iranians showed off their new Shahab-3 missiles, which had become operational the previous year, during a parade in Tehran. With a 1,300 kilometer range, the Shahab-3 can strike Israel from Iranian territory. Along the side of the truck carrying the Shahab-3 missile in the 2004 parade, the Iranians draped a banner stating, “Israel must be wiped off the map.” Just so no one misunderstands the message, the Iranians also printed it in English. There is no reference to a “regime,” only to “Israel.”

In last year’s parade, the Iranians shortened the slogan they put on the trucks carrying the Shahab-3, writing instead, “Israel must be destroyed.” The Iranian message became even more compelling considering that the International Atomic Energy Agency reported last November that Iranian engineers were seeking to replace the conventional explosives in the Shahab-3 with a nuclear warhead. Michael Axworthy, who headed the Iran section of the British Foreign Office in the late 1990s, wrote in 2008 that considering what was written on the Iranian missiles, the arguments that were being raised disputing Iran’s exact intentions were baseless. The meaning of what they were saying, he warned, “was pretty clear.”

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  • Geeza

    Memo to Middle East:

    Sort out your differences among yourselves or blow each other to oblivion. We just don’t care any more.

    No more US troops to the Middle East and no more Aid either. We’ve got enough problems of our own to deal with.

    That goes for you too Israel.

  • Charles Fortner

    It is impossible for anyone other than a fool to believe anything Israel says.

    • Diane Rabinowitz

      Well, I guess you really had to get that off your chest! But you clearly did not read the article! Israel is not quoted anywhere in it, so what is it that it’s impossible to believe?

      What’s written in the article is word for word what’s on the banners the Iranians have placed on the sides of the missiles.

      You would be much smarter to say “It is impossible for anyone other than a fool to believe that the Iranians do not want the destruction of Israel”

      You give your anti-semitism away so willingly!

  • salvage

    How many nations has Israel invade?

    How many has Iran?

    How many nuclear weapons has Israel got?

    How many has Iran?

    It’s weird how Iran is the war mongering aggressor bent on the annihilation of their enemies.

  • robin

    Will we be fooled Iran
    Let us not be fooled again..
    “In addition to the audacity of the event itself, other factors made the Holocaust hard for most to believe. Remembering the atrocity stories of world war 1 that proved False {such as the tales of the germans use of corpses to make soap], people did not want to be Fooled” for the Second time in One generation” The members of this school-those who closed their minds to the halocaust , having decided to disbelieve any more reports of horor-provide an example of how not to think. Also adding to the incredibility of the Holocaust was the sheer Bombast of Hitlers rhetoric. If he proclaimed his INtention to wipe out European jewry {notably in his speech january 30, 1939}, he also proclaimed that the third reich would last a thousand years. Those inclined to disbelieve the holocaust for one reason or another could tell themselves that hitlers death sentence on the jews was merely rhetorical flourish like his operatic gestures- iIgnoring the grave Assaults on the Legal and Human status on the jews that had already taken place” Stewart Justman
    All kinds of people shut their mind to truths that are playing out in plain sight…….

  • justin

    I would have to agree with the previous comment. What gives us the irght ot say who is right and wrong and intervene? Pack our stuff and come home, stay out of there business and if (IF) something happens we will be able to protect ourselves. Where has all of this intervention and policing other countries gotten us? I would ask for PROOF that Iran has created nuclear weapons and that has not been proven. Are we going to have a repeat of Iraq? We swore they had weapons of mass destruction and didnt find a single w.m.d. How many of our brothers and sisters fought and died in a war based on a rumor. I personally dont want to see history repeat itself. The old way isnt working chief so maybe Ron Paul is right.

  • Bob D

    Lets look at this in reverse. Do Israel and the US want to erase the Iran regime(we cannot even argue it is an occupying regime like they can about the Israelis regime)from the pages of time? I think YOUR intentions are pretty clear. But one thing about bullies and perpetual war advocates like you, you cannot walk a mile in the other fellow’s shoes. You don’t even try.