For some reason, the book title Lies My Father Told Me comes into my head in regards to this post. In this case, I’m writing about lies the anti-Iran hawks tell repeatedly. One of the chief ones is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad once said that Iran would “wipe Israel off the face of the earth.” Here’s even the supposedly distinguished Gray Lady getting it wrong:
Iran’s conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be “wiped off the map” and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.
The only problem is–that’s not what he actually said. As many have previously reported this is a grievous mistranslation from Farsi, having no basis in reality.
So let’s set the record straight for once. I asked an authority on this subject to weigh in. He is Muhammad Sahimi, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Southern California, and an expert on Iran’s nuclear program, quoted regularly in the pages of the NY Times and other major publications. Prof. Sahimi is Iranian-American, but no friend of the current regime. Here is what he wrote me, quoting a precise Farsi translation and his gloss on the text:
Here is the exact translation of what Ahmadinejad said:
“The Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] said this regime, occupying Jerusalem, must vanish from the page of time.”
1. This is what Khomeini said. He had said it years earlier, and at that time no one took it seriously.
2. He said “this regime,” not Jews,
3. He did not say “must be destroyed,” rather “must disappear.”
What he meant was that Israel’s regime and political system “must” disappear, akin to what happened in the Soviet Union, where the regime disappeared without bloodshed. In fact, Khomeini, in a famous letter to Gorbachev, had made that prediction.
Now, people may argue that this is a hostile statement against Israel which it surely is. But it in no way supports the claims which have been made in its name that Iran has called for the destruction of Israel, that Iran plans to use its supposed nuclear weapons against Israel, etc. None of this is true.
Again, one may argue whether Iran considers itself an enemy of Israel (and vice versa). But one may not abuse, distort, or falsify the historical record as anti-Iran hawks do to support regime change, war, military assault, whatever.