Last week, Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said, “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury. Any who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world…As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map.”
British Prime Minister Tony Blair responded by tying the statement to Iran’s alleged efforts to obtain nuclear weapons and saying the West might have to take military action against the country, while George W. Bush called Iran and Syria “outlaw regimes” and spoke of denying Iran the ability to produce weapons of mass destruction, using language similar to that used in an attempt to justify the war on Iraq prior to the invasion on March 19, 2003. The statement that “Israel must be wiped off the map” was thus construed to almost suggest that Iran’s President had called for a nuclear bomb to be dropped on Israel.
It is interesting to ponder Bush’s and Blair’s reaction to this statement in light of Israel’s ongoing policy of wiping the Palestinian territories off the map, such as the continued illegal settlements and the attempt to annex much of the West Bank by building a “security fence” well beyond Israel’s borders.
It is also interesting to compare Ahmadinejad’s statement with those of several orthodox Jewish groups, such as Neturei Kartai, an organization of “international Jews united against Zionism”. On September 15, orthodox Jews protested outside the United Nations in New York to protest the state of Israel. “The State of ‘Israel’ is an embodiment of illegitimacy;” read a statement from the group, “it is the antithesis of Judaism and can not be the representative of the Jewish people. In fact, the leaders of the Jewish People, who have been and are steadfast in their commitment to the Jewish religion, have always stood in opposition to the creation and to the existence of the State of ‘Israel’.”
“Firstly,” the statement continued, “this is a rebellion against G-d who has expressly forbidden us, the Jewish people, from ending the G-dly decreed exile, by creating our own State… Secondly, this rebellion against G-d has been compounded immeasurably by the fact that in order to create this state, a land has been taken, clearly against the will of the indigenous population, the Palestinian people.”
The group Jews Against the Occupation similarly condemns the illegal occupation and annexation of Palestinian territory. Their mission statement reads, “We therefore stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom.”
The reaction to the Iranian President’s statement is interesting, considering that Israel actively engages in policies designed to wipe the Palestinian territories from the map. But rather than threatening war with Israel, the only country in the region known to actually possess nuclear weapons, the U.S. actively supports this policy by providing Israel with more than $3 billion annually in aid.
The contrasting reactions from the U.S. toward the statement from the Iranian President versus official Israeli policy are perhaps not insignificant. They may even be highly instructive, if we care to take a moment to examine them.
 Philip Webster, “Blair hints at military action after Iran’s ‘disgraceful’ taunt”, The Times (London), October 28, 2005
 Caren Bohan, “Bush Calls Iran And Syria ‘outlaw Regimes’”, Reuters, October 29, 2005
 “Sharon Does Not Belong in the Celebration of the United Nations”, Neturei Karta, September 15, 2005
 Mission statement of Jews Against the Occupation