Bintel Blog

Don’t Worry, Ahmadinejad Only Wants Israel ‘Wiped From the Pages of Time’

By Daniel Treiman

  • Print
  • Share Share

Bintel Blog reader James Holstun objects to an earlier post of mine in which I quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as having called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Holstun writes:

I know that this is a widespread accusation — it’s on THE WEB, after all, so it must be true! But people who speak Farsi note that this is a tendentious mistranslation of Ahmadinejad’s comments, and I haven’t seen any refutation… See http://democracyrising.us/content/view/736/164/.

In the era of pre-emptive attacks, it is appropriate to exercise a little caution in one’s accusations, unless one’s aim is precisely to heat things up and prepare the way for a pre-emptive attack based on a non-existent threat. Ahmadinejad is a Jew-hating scumbag, but that’s not an adequate reason to reduce Tehran to a heap of glowing rubble.

There has, indeed, been a great deal of debate over how to translate Ahmadinejad’s now-infamous remark. University of Michigan historian Juan Cole and others have argued that “wiped off the map” is a mistranslation — a mistranslation, moreover, that is being used to beat the drums of war against Iran. “I smell the whiff of war propaganda,” Cole warned The New York Times.

But if it is a mistranslation, it is one that is not the exclusive province of those who are concerned about the Iranian regime’s intentions and nuclear ambitions. In fact, as the Times’s Ethan Bronner noted, “All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statement, including a description of it on his Web site (www.president.ir/eng/), refer to wiping Israel away.” (Bronner’s thorough analysis of the debate over Ahmadinejad’s words can be read in full here.)

In any case, the most likely alternative translation would seem to be that Ahmadinejad actually called for Israel to be “wiped from the pages of time,” which is hardly more comforting.

This whole debate, though, begs the question: Are there more benign interpretations of popular Iranian regime-endorsed chants like “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”?

And while we’re on the topic of insanely belligerent statements, it’s worth mentioning an oft-overlooked (and even more disturbing) one from former Iranian president and present-day powerbroker Hashemi Rafsanjani, widely regarded as a more moderate alternative to Ahmadinejad. At a December 2001 “Jerusalem Day” rally, Rafsanjani said:

If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists’ strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.

But why worry?

UPDATE: The latest from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s lips: “God willing, in the near future we will witness the destruction of the corrupt occupier regime” — by which he means, of course, Israel.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Reader Mail, Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hashemi Rafsanjani

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
Jim Holstun Wed. Jun 6, 2007

Dear Mr. Trieman, Well, almost a correction, but not quite--clearly, THE FORWARD is more like THE NEW YORK TIMES than I thought: duck, link to something else, try to change the subject. Evidently, running a blog means never having to say you're sorry. Incidentally, congratulations on your amazingly-quick mastery of Farsi: "In any case, the most likely alternative translation would seem to be that Ahmadinejad actually called for Israel to be 'wiped from the pages of time,' which is hardly more comforting." Incidently, note the implication of your own final tendentious paraphrase: Israel is nothing more or less than the corrupt occupier regime. Enough. Bye.

Bill Bartmann Thu. Sep 3, 2009

Excellent site, keep up the good work

Bill Bartmann Wed. Sep 9, 2009

Great site...keep up the good work.

Robert Shumake Wed. Feb 3, 2010

Hey, I found your blog while searching on Google your post looks very interesting for me. I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

-Robert Shumake




Find us on Facebook!
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.