Bintel Blog

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

By Daniel Treiman

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.

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