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August 17, 2008

AP: Israel "Traded Threats" w/Iran

AP Equates Israeli Self-Defense with Iranian Threats of Genocide

The Associated Press article "Iran tests rocket for future launch of satellite," by Nasser Karimi, offers a particularly flagrant example of media moral equivalency between Islamist terror and Israeli self-defense. The story notes that Iran's "fledgling space program, like its nuclear program, has provoked unease abroad." But its only reference to Iran's repeated threats to destroy Israel appears in the 14th and final paragraph, which states:

"Israel, which is about 600 miles away from Iran, has often traded threats with the Islamic republic."

Iran has repeatedly threatened to annihilate Israel and its citizens, but Israel has never threatened to destroy Iran and its people. In the past, the Israelis have responded to potential nuclear threats (e.g. in Iraq and Syria) with pinpoint strikes against the nuclear facilities, but they generally do not announce or "threaten" these actions ahead of time, and such actions are hardly comparable to genocide.

Israel has "traded threats with" Iran? Is that how AP sees the conflict between Iran and Israel?

Let's see ... on Oct. 26, 2005, in a speech to a "World Without Zionism" conference, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed that "Israel must be wiped off the map." He also said that "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury."

On August 3, 2006, he said that "the main solution for the conflict is elimination of the Zionist regime."

On November 13, 2006, he said "Israel is destined for destruction and will soon disappear."

On January 23, 2007, he said "the United States and the Zionist regime of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives."

On February 28, 2007, he said "Zionists are the true incarnation of Satan."

On April 18, 2007, he said Iran "seeks peace and security all over the world and wants to have relations with all nations and states except for the Zionist entity."

On June 3, 2007, he declared that "the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed" and said that "we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future."

On October 5, 2007, he said the "creation of the Zionist regime, [and the] continuation of its existence ... are an insult to human dignity," and insisted that the world should not think that Iran and other countries in the region "will take off their hands off the throat of the Zionists and their supporters."

On January 30, 2008, he said "I warn you to abandon the filthy Zionist entity that has reached the end of the line" and said "the life of Zionists will sooner or later come to an end."

On February 20, 2008, he said "World powers have created a black and dirty microbe named the Zionist regime and have unleashed it like a savage animal on the nations of the region."

On May 8, 2008, he referred to Israel as a "stinking corpse."

And on June 2, 2008, he stated that "The Zionist regime has lost its raison d'etre. ... [T]his germ of corruption will be wiped off," and asserted that Israel "will soon disappear off the geographical scene."

Perhaps his most ominous recent threat, however, was on May 13, 2008, when he said that "the life of Zionists will sooner or later come to an end" and stated that "regional nations hate this fake and criminal regime [Israel] and if the smallest and briefest chance is given to regional nations they will destroy it."

These statements of contempt for Israel, dehumanization of Israelis, and repeated vows to bring about Israel's annihilation are clearly very serious threats -- not just to Israel's security, but to its very existence and the lives of its people.

By contrast, while Israel has made clear that it takes these threats seriously and will act to defend itself if necessary, it has not "threatened" to target Iran's civilian population, nor has it expressed an intent to annihilate Iran in the manner that Iran has threatened Israel. For example, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz recently stated: "If Israeli, U.S., or European intelligence gets proof that Iran has succeeded in developing nuclear weapons technology, then Israel will respond in a manner reflecting the existential threat posed by such a weapon. Israel takes Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements regarding its destruction seriously. Israel cannot risk another Holocaust." This is clearly an assertion of Israel's right to self-defense, not a threat.

Notably, when Israel carried out successful pinpoint strikes against nuclear weapons development sites in Iraq in 1981 (after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had publicly vowed to "burn half of Israel" with the nuclear weapons he was developing) and in Syria in 2007, Israel took steps to prevent civilian casualties.

Surely, the Associated Press is aware that there is a difference between Iran's president REPEATEDLY threatening to carry out a genocide against tiny Israel, on the one hand, and an Israeli deputy minister responding to these repeated threats by acknowledging that his country takes Iran's threats to Israel's existence seriously, on the other hand. Yet the AP report whitewashes the extreme nature of Iran's threats by summarizing this exchange as merely a case of Israel "trad[ing] threats" with Iran.

- Stephen A. Silver

Posted by LG at August 17, 2008 03:53 AM

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