In 2005, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be "wiped off the map." Some people are now asking if that was a threat of war. The statement was translated from Farsi to English by news agencies. Of course this makes us all blanch at the thought of a nuclear powered Iran.
Iranian specialists are asking if we are using this threat to build a case for military action from a faulty premise. What did Ahmadinejad say?
Juan Cole, a MIddle East specialist at the U. of Michigan and critic of American policy says that Ahmadinejad was misquoted. What is for sure, he concludes is that he hoped the Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse. He bases this conclusion on the fact that Iran has not attacked another country aggressively for over a century.
Is he forgetting the war between Iran and Iraq that started September 22, 1980 and lasted until August 1988? True, Iraq invaded Iran after a history of having a border dispute and Shia insurgency but their advantage only lasted a few months. by 1982 they were beaten, but Iran kept attacking them for the next six years. This was called the Imposed War, or the Holy Defense War.
Translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and foreign ministry disagree. All translations, even on Ahmadinejad's web site (www.president.ir/eng/) read "wiping Israel away." They say that "wipe off" or "wipe away" is more accurate than "vanish" because the Persian verb is active and transitive. They continue to verify that the meaning is "Israel must be wiped off the geographical map."
Analysts agree that Ahmadinejad is hostile to Israel. Iran supports the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Hezbollah terrorists of Lebanon. Ahmadinejad continues to refuse to acknowledge the Holocaust.
On Wednesday, August 20, 2008, Ahmadinejad called Israel a "germ of corruption" that will be "removed soon." this was on his presidential site. He differs greatly from his Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashai who said that Iranians were "friends of all people in the word, even Israelis." Because of Mashai's rare statement, some officials are calling for his resignation. Evidently many in Iran agree with Ahmadinejad.
What will Israel's reaction be? So far, they are not allowed flight over Iraq as deemed by the USA.
Reference: New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/11/weekinreview/11bronner.html?_r=1&em=&oref=slo
International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/bin/printfriendly.php?id=15470777
Wikipedia on Iran-Iraq War