Iranian president says move Israel to Europe

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Friday, December 9, 2005

Map of Iran

In October, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called Israel a "disgraceful blot" to be "wiped off the map." Ahmadinejad further remarked Thursday at a summit of Muslim nations in Islam's holy city of Mecca that the Jewish state should be moved to Europe and questioned whether the Holocaust actually took place.

In an interview with Iran's Arabic channel 'Al-Alam', Ahmadinejad said that if Germany and Austria feel responsible for the massacre of Jews during World War II, they should host a state of Israel on their own soil. Speaking at a news conference on the summit sidelines, Ahmadinejad said most Jews in Israel "have no roots in Palestine, but they are holding the destiny of Palestine in their hands and allow themselves to kill the Palestinian people." The summit condemned terrorism and extremism, stressing the themes of moderation and tolerance.

"Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps," Ahmadinejad said. "Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned. Although we don't accept this claim [of the holocaust], if we suppose it is true... If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe -- like in Germany, Austria or other countries -- to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it."

Rabbi David Saperstein, head of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, called the comments a "repugnant distortion of history."

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged all UN States to combat Holocaust denial, and to "educate their populations about the well established historical facts of the Holocaust, in which one third of the Jewish people were murdered, along with countless members of other minorities."

Tension between Israel and Iran began before the 1979 Islamic Revolution when the Israelis joined the United States in siding with the Shah before he was deposed. Recent tensions between Iran and Israel over the nuclear activities in Tehran and Israel's many existing nuclear bombs and missile delivery systems have increased as a result of Ahmadinejad's comment.

"Just to remind Mr. Ahmadinejad, we've been here long before his ancestors. Therefore, we have a birthright to be here in the land of our forefathers and to live here. Thank God we have the capability to deter and to prevent such a statement from becoming a reality," said Ra'anan Gissin, Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's adviser.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said the statement should be a wake up call to all of us around the world.

"We should do everything we can in order to stop him, and to stop the Iranian effort to develop a nuclear bomb," said Shalom.

"[Ahmadinejad's comment] further underscores our concerns about the regime in Iran," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. "It's all the more reason why it's so important that the regime not have the ability to develop nuclear weapons."

Reactions from Iranians

The Iranian blogger Babak Seradjeh reacted to Ahmadinejad's comments by stating, "I wondered why Mr. Ahmanedinejad doesn't provide the Palestinians with a piece of Iran. ... Such evil remarks in blatant [sic] disregard of documented history is nothing new of course coming from the kind of people that Mr. Ahmadinejad represents. Denying the Holocaust, calling to wipe a country off the map, or to move it, are all the stuff of my generation's childhood, in school, on the radio and on TV, in the bold and thick slogans on the walls, the streamlined propaganda that aimed to penetrate all the space it could find in our brains."

Another Iranian blogger, Shahram Kholdi, had responded to Ahmadinejad's earlier comments about "wiping Israel off the map of the earth" by saying that Ahmadinejad was calling for ethnic-cleansing. In response to the new statements, Kholdi has pointed out that "His Excellency President Dr. Ahmadinejad's" new comments "clarify" Ahmadinejad's point of view beyond any doubt. Kholdi's response included the direct statement: "First, Mr. President, if you do not know history please Shut up!"

Sources

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