Thursday, September 24, 2009

A quick comment about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

I'll just say that a lot of what you think he says, he didn't actually say. He's very aggressively mistranslated on a routine basis now.

I'd suspect that if you read the full texts of his statements you'd find him basically reasonable all the time.

He is an anti-Zionist. He does believe the creation of Israel was an injustice that should be corrected by the people there now and also the refugees who were forced out having a referendum where they'd be free to vote to end Israel's status as a Jewish state.

The problem is that his real point of view is very offensive to people who have emotional ties to Israel, but it isn't that offensive to people who aren't already attached to Zionism. The distortions and exaggerations are meant so you'll be as offended by what you think he says as Zionists already are by what he actually says.

Original "Wiped off the map" speech

Yesterday's UN speech

Interview with the Associated Press

Interview with Ann Curry from MSNBC


N. Friedman said...

One does not have to be a friend of Israel to recognize Ahmadinejad as a classic Antisemite - in the European sense of the word. That you do not is beyond me.

Moreover, his October 26, 2005 speech, cited by you, is not even pro-Palestinian. Rather, he proposes using the Palestinian Arabs to assist in a Muslim reconquista of lands lost to European Christians.

All of that may, to you, sound reasonable but it is, in fact, religious lunacy.

Arnold Evans said...

You again?

Of course Ahmadinejad isn't European. Give me a definition of "classic Antisemite - in the European sense of the word"

As I say, he is guilty of being anti-Zionist - and Zionists react to anti-Zionism emotionally. No rational argument can address that.

If your claim is that Ahmadinejad has some hatred of Jews, and that supposed hatred of Jews would be felt even if a Jewish state had been established in Utah, then your claim is ridiculous.

The thing is, N. Friedman, you are a friend of Israel for reasons that go beyond rationality. I have no hope of convincing you that I'm right or converting you. So we're rapidly going to reach the point where it's best for us to just agree to disagree, but further discussion would be pointless. Just telling you in advance.

N. Friedman said...

Antisemites claim that Jews are behind conspiracies. According to Ahmadinejad, Jews have the world in their control. That is classically European Antisemitism - essentially the same theory asserted by Hitler, by the way. Read Ahmadinejad's recent rants where he says exactly that.

Saying that one supports Israel is not an excuse to avoid dialogue. My impression is that Jews - including Israel's Jewish supporters - are not a stupid bunch and do not merely support Israel for emotional reasons. Your position sounds to me like a form of essentialist nonsense.

Now, you think Israel was a bad idea. Perhaps, you prefer that Jews had remained in Europe - where they would have been killed in large numbers - than to seek refuge where it was available. Or, is this all pie in the sky thinking, where the practical implications do not matter. And, consider: Palestinian Arabs can end the Arab Israeli dispute in an hour. Jews are not in that position. You do not have to have sympathy for the Israelis to understand that fact.

Arnold Evans said...

So that'll be your definition? Classical Anti-Semitism is the belief that Jews are behind conspiracies? I'll go with that definition if it's what you present.

Of course Ahmadinejad has never said Jews have the world in their control.

Ahmadinejad has said Zionists are not Jews, never that they are synonymous. But he has also never said that Zionists have the world in their control.

He does, rightly, believe that people sympathetic to Zionism have disproportionate influence in Western foreign policy regarding the Middle East and Western opinion-making more broadly.

That belief is an empirical question that certainly does not require any hatred of Jews as an ethnic group - my definition of anti-Semitism - or any specific Jewish conspiracy - my understanding of your definition of anti-Semitism.

We're reaching that point. You're not going to produce a link in which Ahmadinejad says Jews are Zionists. You're not going to produce a link where Ahmadinejad says Jews -- or Zionists -- have the world in their control. You're not going to produce a link where Ahmadinejad says Jews are more than anyone else prone to conspiracies.

You're not going to produce any link that by your definition demonstrates that Ahmadinejad is an anti-Semite.

Oh and Hitler clearly believed in an element of racial inferiority in his view of Jews and of course you'll never find anything analogous in anything Ahmadinejad has written or said.

But without producing a link, much less any reasonable connection between Ahmadinejad and Hitler, you're going to continue believing that Ahmadinejad - not from Europe, not raised or educated in any European tradition - follows the classical European tradition of anti-Semitism.

I'm not going to be able to convince you otherwise, and I don't mind that.

At this point, feel free to take the last word. Going back and forth would serve no purpose.

N. Friedman said...

Dear Arnold,

You are not going to find a link where Hitler said he would kill all Jews either. Which is to say, your point is nonsense.

Ahmadinejad is a classic Antisemite who uses the same formula that Hitler used. Substituting the word "Zionist" for "Jews" does not change that fact. Even the likes of a Roger Cohen realizes that.

Now, I do not know what point you have reached. I do know - and contrary to your bizarre claim that Israel's supporters are emotional, not rational - that a lot of very smart, rational people have supported Israel over the years.

Among them, Albert Einstein whose intelligence is second to none. Yes, he hoped that Israel would not have to take up arms. But, he did understand the justice in the claim by Jews to a homeland so that they would not have to be the butt of oppression from bigots in Europe and the Arab regions. That is something that people like you choose - mark my words here, "choose" - to overlook.

You, evidently, are blinded by your theory that the rights of Jews to find refuge and to form a polity are annulled on the basis that Europeans are imperialists and on the basis that there were a small number of people living on that land - as if attachment, like trees, to land were the sole basis for any polity and as if it were not the case that many of the world's polities are the result migratory activity.

The odor of your claims are, to me, strange but you do seem to have a few bedfellows these day. Antisemitism has a long history and, in most instances, Antisemites have thought they were acting for higher motives - which is not to accuse you of that but to say you are making bedfellows with them.

Anonymous said...

N. Friedman, the sad historical truth is that Jewish-Europeans forcibly invaded and occupied a slice of Middle Eastern territory. Many of the territory's Middle Eastern inhabitants were driven out at gunpoint. And the occupation and expansion continues to this day.

I seriously doubt that good ol' Albert Einstein would approve of what's going on in Gaza today. No way.

Ahmadinejad advocates a referendum be held among the entire territory's population, including all jews, muslims, christians, as well as the refugees, to determine the future of the land's political framework (as per what took place at the conclusion of apartheid South Africa). That sounds like a perfectly just means of ending the 60 years of injustice.


N. Friedman said...


I do not think that there have been 60 years or injustice for Palestinian Arabs, at least not due to Israelis. Let us assume, for sake of argument, that what you say is true - although it is not, as there was no invasion of the country, unless you think migration is the same thing as an invasion - and that the Israelis did an injustice to Palestinian Arabs 60 years ago.

Does that injustice run forever? If so, how do we judge other similar injustices from that same period. What should we do about the 2.5 million Germans thrown out of Poland and the former Czechoslovakia at the end of WWII - people who lost their ancestral homes of more than a thousand years? Such people cannot return to their homes and, at this point, they number in around 10 million people. To note: most such people now live in Germany. They moved on from their injustice and made lives for themselves. And, Poland and the former Czechoslovakia has done nothing for such people and, to be frank, they really were marched out of their homelands at gun point.

Why did Palestinian Arabs not do the same thing as the Sudetenland Germans?

Frankly, this 60 years of injustice is bunk. It is refuted by the tens of millions of other refugees from the same period who moved on and made lives for themselves instead of seeking revenge as the Arabs have done.

lidia said...

Arnold Evans, I respect you for your will to debate with a Zionist - grinding water would be a more rewarding task. They are usually helpless, so let them be. Of course, your words are useful for unbiased readers

lidia said...

Regarding "60 years" - some Germans did some bad things to some Jews about the same time ago. I suppose N.Feldman is all for returning all money Zionists got from Germany (because Palestinians did not got compensation for stolen land, homes and so on)

Then s/he could move on and close ALL "Holocoust museums" all over the world (including in USA, where were genocide of several peoples, but NOT Jews)

Really, Zionists are not too smart, or they would invent better apology for their colonial enterprise, which is fated the same future as any other colony, form Vietnam to Algeris