Sunday, October 30, 2005

My opinion on the comment by the Iranian president

On October 27th, at a conference entitled The World without Zionism, Iranian president Ahmadinejad stated that Israel should be "wiped off the map." His statement is not surprising. In fact, it probably resonates with how many people feel due to Israel's continued atrocities & injustice towards the Palestinians & violation of international law.

How do I feel about it? I think it's an inappropriate remark on many levels:

1. It's immoral: Israel is not a non-living entity. It is a country that consists of innocent people who did not choose to be born there and now find themselves embrolied in a decades-old conflict just like the Palestinians. It is like saying “Death to Israel” and does not really make sense. Muslims don’t like to be regarded as “terrorists” due to the actions of a few extremist Muslims, and I think it is unfair to judge all Jews and Israelis based on the actions of a few political and religious leaders.

2. It's a bad political move: this statement is the last thing that Iranian administration needed when President Ahmadinejad is already facing international pressure about its uranium enrichment program. Secondly, it doesn't help Muslims and Arabs in the West who are trying to portray Islam in a positive light and working to live a normal life; nor does it help activists working on Muslim or Middle Eastern issues because they may now be required to respond or explain the Iranian president’s remark.

3. It's not pragmatic: I can understand if people don’t support the Zionist ideology or the initial creation of Israel. However, the country was established more than 50 years ago and it is apparent that it is not going away. Therefore, we need to accept this fact & move on. Instead of looking back, our efforts must be focused sincerely on the future of the Palestinians and creating a situation that provides them with a normal life sans the oppression they have suffered for so many decades.

This piece from a BBC article captured how I feel about the issue:

"What we need to be talking about is adding the state of Palestine to the map and not wiping Israel from the map," he said. (Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat).

"In principle, we are way beyond this type of political rhetoric that shows the weakness of the Iranian government," said an official at the Egyptian embassy in London.