The Cole Report
When it comes to Iran, he distorts, you decide.
My source here is none other than a volume published by the Institute for Imam Khomeini. Here is the translation:
Israel has declared armed struggle against Islamic countries and its destruction is a must for all governments and nations of Islam.
This is especially important, and is also the reason for the wide currency given to the statement: It is making something into a matter of religious duty. The term "ghal-o-gham" is an extremely strong and unambivalent one, of which a close equivalent rendering would be "annihilate."
Professor Cole has completely missed or omitted the first reference in last October's speech, skipped to the second one, and flatly misunderstood the third. (The fourth one, about "eliminating the occupying regime," I would say speaks for itself.) He evidently thinks that by "occupation," Khomeini and Ahmadinejad were referring to the Israeli seizure of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. But if this were true, it would not have been going on for "more than fifty years" now, would it? The 50th anniversary of 1967 falls in 2017, which is a while off. What could be clearer than that "occupation regime" is a direct reference to Israel itself?
One might have thought that, if the map-wiping charge were to have been inaccurate or unfair, Ahmadinejad would have denied it. But he presumably knew what he had said and had meant to say. In any case, he has an apologist to do what he does not choose to do for himself. But this apologist, who affects such expertise in Persian, cannot decipher the plain meaning of a celebrated statement and is, furthermore, in need of a remedial course in English.
Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was a columnist for Vanity Fair and the author, most recently, of Arguably, a collection of essays.
Photograph of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images.