The same day that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared at a conference in Tehran entitled â€œThe World without Zionismâ€ that Israel should be destroyed, an Islamic Jihad suicide attacker murdered at least five people in the Israeli city of Hadera. No doubt Ahmadinejad had this kind of thing in mind when he stated that â€œthere is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic worldâ€: if he condemns attacks against civilian non-combatants, he has kept it to himself.
Imagine if George W. Bush had announced that he intended to wipe Iraq, or any other nation, off the map: the domestic and international outcry that would follow would effectively end his presidency. But in the context of Israel the world has always had a higher tolerance for such talk. The Hamas Charter states that its goal is to â€œraise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine,â€ and quotes Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan Al-Banna: â€œIsrael will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.â€ Hamas attacked Israel with 113 suicide bombers from 1993 to 2005 in pursuit of this end. Yet some Western analysts have actually advocated Hamasâ€™ inclusion in the political process in the Palestinian Authority, as long as the group renounces violence. Is the obliteration of Israel more acceptable if it takes place without violence?
And of course, Ahmadinejad wasnâ€™t saying anything new, as he himself made plain by invoking the Ayatollah Khomeini: â€œAs the Imam said,â€ the President reminded his hearers, â€œIsrael must be wiped off the map.â€ In 1979, not long after the triumph of his revolution, Khomeini dedicated the last Friday of Ramadan as an international day of jihad against Israel â€” making it particularly fitting that Ahmadinejad reiterated this lust for genocide and terror during Ramadan.
Ahmadinejad also made it clear that, like Hamas, he did not view the Palestinian conflict with Israel as one of nationalism, but of religion: â€œAnybody who recognizes Israel,â€ he warned, â€œwill burn in the fire of the Islamic nationâ€™s fury, any (Islamic leader) who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world.â€ It is unfortunate but true that many officials and observers in the West will be puzzled by his view that recognition of Israel would amount to defeat for Islam; although the President has begun recently to refer to the jihadistsâ€™ goal of establishing a unified caliphate under Sharia law, the totalitarian, supremacist, expansionist jihad ideology that Ahmadinejad and his ilk espouse has still received scant attention given its increasingly central role in so many world conflicts. Ahmadinejad, Hamas, and innumerable others believe that any land â€” not only Israel, but Spain also â€” that has once belonged to the House of Islam belongs to it forever. Non-Muslims may live in such lands, but only as dhimmis, protected people, subject to various forms of legal discrimination and harassment; they have no right to govern such lands. This is why Ahmadinejad views Israel as a â€œstigma,â€ and will, like Hamas, accept nothing short of its total destruction.
But this time the reaction has been different. Instead of ignoring Ahmadinejadâ€™s call to destroy Israel, as they have so many such calls in the past, at least some Western leaders were swift to rebuke the Iranian President. Said White House spokesman Scott McClellan: â€œThe Palestinian Authority needs to do more to end the violence and prevent terrorist attacks from being carried out. The terrorist attacks that take place only undermine the leadership of President Abbas and undermine his principle of one authority, one law, one gun.â€ Of course, even Abbas has not been unambiguous in his opposition to suicide attacks such as the one in Hadera on Wednesday. He attributed Israelâ€™s withdrawal from Gaza to suicide bombings: â€œWe must remember,â€ he told supporters, â€œthat our achievements are the result of the sacrifices of the martyrsâ€ â€” that is, suicide bombers. â€œThe martyrs have paved the road for us. The sacrifices of the martyrs, the wounded and the detainees, made the occupation leave Gaza and evacuate the settlements. This step will be followed by further withdrawals from the West Bank and Jerusalem.â€
But Ahmadinejad may have inadvertently initiated a shift in the prevailing winds. British Prime Minister Tony Blair was dismayed: â€œThere has been a long time in which I have been answering questions on Iran with everyone saying to me: â€˜Tell us you are not going to do anything about Iran.â€™ If they carry on like this, the question people are going to be asking us is: â€˜When are you going to do something about this?â€™ You imagine a state like that, with an attitude like that, having a nuclear weapon.â€ He condemned the call for Israelâ€™s destruction: â€œI have never come across a situation (where) the president of a country (says) they want to wipe out -- not that theyâ€™ve got a problem with, or issue with -- but want to wipe out another country. This is unacceptable, and their attitude towards Israel, their attitude towards terrorism, their attitude on the nuclear weapons issue isnâ€™t acceptable. If they continue down this path, then people are going to believe that they are a real threat to our worldâ€™s security and stability. How are we going to build a more secure world with that type of attitude? Itâ€™s a disgrace.â€
Exactly so. And Blair was not alone. Jacques Chirac said that Ahmadinejadâ€™s words were â€œcompletely irresponsible.â€ Even Kofi Annan issued a statement reminding UN members that â€œIsrael is a long-standing member of the United Nations with the same rights and obligations as every other member.â€
The Iranians, however, were unrepentant. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced that demonstrations would be held on Friday â€” the last Friday of Ramadan, which Khomeini had directed be set aside for such activities â€” to show popular agreement with Ahmadinejad: â€œThe world,â€ he predicted, â€œwill see the anger of the Islamic world against this regime.â€ And other Muslim states declined comment, although Ahmadinejadâ€™s words were splashed across front pages all over the Islamic world.
Ariel Sharon has issued a call of his own: expel Iran from the UN: â€œA country that calls for the destruction of another people cannot be a member of the United Nations.â€ If Ahmadinejad and his gang are to see that the anger of the civilized world against his criminal regime is genuine, world leaders should heed Sharonâ€™s recommendation -- and also work quickly to defuse Iranâ€™s nuclear program. Otherwise Iranâ€™s Thug-in-Chief will almost certainly use those weapons to make sure that there is indeed a â€œworld without Zionismâ€ â€“ and since the jihad Israel faces is the same jihad that threatens so much of the world today, this great â€œvictory for the Islamic worldâ€ will only herald even larger cataclysms to come.