Iran’s president had his big day at the United Nations yesterday, giving a speech slamming Zionists and replete with classic anti-Semitic motifs: The Zionists are murderers, deceitful and dominate global finance despite their “minuscule” number, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.
Then he went on CNN to talk with Larry King about how the Zionists start wars, have no religion, and are “uninvited guests” (he starts talking about Israel at minute 13:40).
As with many other American media personalities who have sat down with Ahmadinejad over the years, King was outmaneuvered by Iran’s president (and his shrill translator) when it came to Israel’s right to exist and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Where King, and others, have failed to challenge Ahmadinejad is on his assertion that, if the Holocaust is true, Jews should get a state in Germany, not Palestine (for more on that, Israeli artist Ronen Eidelman has a project proposing the establishment of a Jewish state in Weimar, Germany). King should have pointed out that, as a devout Muslim, Ahmadinejad ought to know from the Bible (considered a holy book by Islam) that the Jews are indigenous to the holy land, and not a European people – to say nothing of the fact that half of Israel’s Jews are immigrants or children of immigrants from the Middle East, that Jews continually lived in Palestine/Israel since the last Jewish state there 2,000 years ago and that Israel is a democratic nation of all its citizens and not just its Jews (Israeli Arabs have the vote, too).
And when Ahmadinejad was talking about Palestinian suffering, King could have pressed him about the Arab attacks against Israelis that perpetuate the conflict – and Palestinian suffering. The point is not to get into a pissing contest about whose suffering is worse – the Israelis’ or the Palestinians’ – but to understand the context for the suffering of the Palestinian side and its root causes: the refusal of powerful Palestinians to give up their war against Israel.
JTA’s Ron Kampeas notes that CNN’s Christiane Amanpour made her own bungle of an analysis of Ahmadinejad’s speech, which she characterized as Ahmadinejad “trying to actually pull back from some of that very fiery rhetoric that he’s directed towards Israel.”
For Ahmadinejad’s interviews with NPR and the L.A. Times, read yesterday’s post.