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Ahmadinejad in the big city

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With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, more than a few media outlets are taking the opportunity to weigh in on the regime in Tehran, and some have sat down with the president of the Islamic Republic.

  • National Public Radio‘s Steve Inskeep asks Ahmadinejad if he accepts the label as the man who would “wipe Israel off the map.” Here’s the response:
  • Please pay attention to the fact that there are two issues that go side by side in this discussion. The first part is the proposal we have given to resolve the problem of Palestine. For 60 years, wars and killings have been going on over there.

    Every peace proposal that has been put on the table so far has failed to give results. Why? Because it neglects the rights of the Palestinian people. Our proposal has been to offer the Palestinian people a free referendum. Everyone who lives in Palestine [should be able] to participate in a referendum to decide the future and the nature of its government.

    Let me create an analogy here — where exactly is the Soviet Union today? It did disappear — but exactly how? It was through the vote of its own people. So therefore in Palestine too we must allow the people, the Palestinians, to determine their own future.

    And then the second side of this same issue, and I’d really like to invite you to pay attention to it. Especially you — you must, because you are always being subjected to [the] unilateral sort of information that is coming from the administration here.

    Let’s ask ourselves, where exactly did the Zionist regime come from? Palestine has existed historically with people who live there for thousands of years. Then at gunpoint several million of the indigenous people there were forced out of their homes and became displaced. And it didn’t stop there; others were brought from elsewhere in the world to replace them. How can you accept this regime?

  • The L.A. Times asked Ahmadinejad a similar question: “You have said repeatedly that the state of Israel should disappear from the map. What action does Iran plan to take to bring about the result of Israel’s disappearance? Or is this just nothing more than talk?” Here’s the response:
  • Iran has made its proposal loud and clear: We’re calling for free referendums for the Palestinian nation to determine their own government. This will be reflected in a proposal which we will soon submit to the U.N. secretary-general. Palestine constitutes a nation that has lived there for hundreds if not actually thousands of years. Now, with the pre-planned thinking, [Israel has] actually displaced over 5 million people from their own lands and collected other people elsewhere from the world and has put them in their place. How is it possible to recognize a state that has come about as such?

    If we agree and accept that certain events had occurred during World War II, well, where did they indeed happen? In Germany, in Poland and in Great Britain. Now, what does this exactly have to do with Palestine? Why is it that the Palestinian people should pay for it?

  • And another question from the L.A. Times: “Does Iran feel or have any reservations about the possibility of a deal between Syria and Israel, in which Syria would get back the Golan Heights but in return would expel Hezbollah from its territory?” The response:
  • We welcome any part of the occupied lands that are freed. We believe that the freedom of the Golan Heights is exactly what the Zionist regime does not want. And we think it is very unlikely that it will happen as a result of the negotiations.

    The regime resembles an airplane that has lost its engine and is kind of going down. And no one can help it. This will benefit everyone – more than anyone, the American people. Because in the name of the American people, this regime is carrying out crimes, crimes that fill the pockets of capitalists, for which the American people pay.

  • In the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens finds Ahmadinejad has done more for the Islamic Republic in four years than all his predecessors combined managed in their 25.
  • Above all, you have given the world time to digest the notion that Iran will inevitably become a nuclear power, and that nothing can be done to stop it – at least at any kind of acceptable price. Will Americans agree to open a third military front in the Middle East? Does Israel, which couldn’t so much as defeat Hezbollah, want to roll the dice on a bombing run that will spark another bloody regional war but retard Iran’s nuclear programs by at most a few years? How will the U.S. afford its epic Wall Street bailouts if you shut down the Straits of Hormuz?

  • In an editorial, the New York Times says what’s needed is a game-changing diplomatic initiative to deal with Iran’s constant evasions on its nuclear program.
  • Europe and the United States must agree quickly on a more persuasive set of punishments and incentives… We don’t know if any mix of sanctions and rewards can persuade Iran’s leaders to abandon their nuclear program. But without such an effort, we are certain that Tehran will keep pressing ahead, while the voices in the United States and Israel arguing for military action will only get louder.

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