Iran Says It Wants to Destroy Israel. Why Is Everyone Shocked?

Efraim Karsh and Rory Miller (New Republic)- * The UN Charter was introduced in 1945, and since that time Arab and Muslim leaders have expressed the desire to obliterate the Jewish state with impressive regularity. No sooner was the State of Israel proclaimed on May 14, 1948, than it was invaded by neighboring Arab states, with Arab League Secretary-General Abdel Rahman Azzam proclaiming that "this will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades." * Such rhetoric has been used by a long line of Arab leaders. During the 1950s and '60s it was Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, the self-styled champion of pan-Arabism, who led the call for Israel's destruction. He proclaimed in late May 1967, "Recently we felt that we are strong enough, that if we were to enter a battle with Israel, with God's help, we could triumph...our main objective will be the destruction of Israel." * The baton passed to a new generation of aspiring pan-Arab champions, notably Syrian president Hafez Assad and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. For his part, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini emphasized the need to destroy the Jewish state well before coming to power in 1979; and during his reign the destruction of Israel evolved into one of the most fundamental tenets of his revolutionary creed. * And let's not forget the PLO. Since its establishment in 1964, the organization's publicly stated objective has been the destruction of Israel. Despite their official commitment to peace with Israel within the framework of the Oslo process, Arafat and his PLO successors have never truly abandoned their commitment to Israel's destruction. Instead they have embarked on an intricate game of Jekyll-and-Hyde politics, constantly reassuring Israeli and Western audiences of their peaceful intentions while at the same time denigrating the peace accords to their Palestinian constituents as a temporary measure to be abandoned at the first available opportunity. * Against this backdrop of six decades of international acquiescence in the face of constant calls for Israel's destruction, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would have legitimate reasons to feel that he has been singled out a bit unfairly these last few days. * We all hope that the West will now take a stand against all those who call for the destruction of Israel. Otherwise, there will be only one lesson from this tawdry affair: that countries should feel free to advocate genocide against the Jewish people - as long as they aren't developing weapons that can be turned on London, Paris, or Moscow once they've finished the job in Tel Aviv.

2005-11-02 00:00:00

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