Thursday, October 06, 2011

Glenn Kessler of WaPo "contextualizes" Iran's calls for Israel's destruction

Glenn Kessler writes a very strange and somewhat deceptive article in the Washington Post that brings up the old question of whether Iranian leaders ever said that Israel should be "wiped off the map."

He accurately notes that the real quote was along the lines of "wiped from the page of time" and he mentions or links to other anti-Israel statements, as well as links to many photographs of the phrase "Israel should be wiped out of the face of the world" in English in Tehran:

But in his conclusion, Kessler says:
In fact, Ahmadinejad is not the power broker in Iran; it is Khamenei. Khamenei, in fact, has been consistent in speaking of his hatred of Israel, but without a military context, as he demonstrated once again this week. Moreover, the fact that Ahmadinejad was merely quoting Khomeini suggests that even less weight should have been given to his words, especially since there is a dispute over the precise meaning in English.

Kessler's proof that Khamenei spoke about the destruction of Israel outside a military context comes from this part of his speech this week, to which he does not provide a link:
The Islamic Republic’s proposal to help resolve the Palestinian issue and heal this old wound is a clear and logical initiative based on political concepts accepted by world public opinion, which has already been presented in detail. We do not suggest launching a classic war by the armies of Muslim countries, or throwing immigrant Jews into the sea, or mediation by the UN and other international organizations. We propose holding a referendum with [the participation of] the Palestinian nation. The Palestinian nation, like any other nation, has the right to determine their own destiny and elect the governing system of the country.

However, Khamenei also said something else later in the speech, which was quite specifically military:
What is posing a threat to the Zionist regime is not the missiles of Iran or resistance groups… the real threat, which can never be countered, is the strong will of men, women, and the youth in Muslim countries, who no longer want the United States, Europe, and their subservient elements to rule over them and humiliate them. However, if a threat is posed by the enemy, those missiles will fulfill their functions.
Once Kessler goes so far to try to provide context for Iran's threats against Israel, it is very strange that he concludes that those threats have never been military.

Sorry, but mentioning Iran's willingness to use its missiles is a very military context.

Even if he would argue that Iran's military threats have been carefully calibrated to sound as if they are purely defensive, one must also add the small fact that Hezbollah is effectively an arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and now that Lebanon is under effective Hezbollah control Iran can use any future Israeli defensive actions in Lebanon as a pretext for military reprisal.

Kessler needs to award himself a "pinocchio" or two for this "fact check."

(h/t JW)