Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Ahmadinejad: Lost in translation
It was October last year when we came home, flicked on the radio and listened aghast to the news that the Iranian president denied the Holocaust had happened and said the state of Israel should be wiped off the map. ‘Christ,’ we thought, ‘this nut job’s playing into their hands with this kind of rhetoric.’ Since then “the Cuban missile crisis in slow motion” as one US academic has described the Iran/US imbroglio has ratcheted up to high alert with Seymour Hersch of the New Yorker reporting that the White House is all prepared for nuclear strikes. It would take just 12 hours to deploy nuclear weapons for a bunker busting strike that would kill a million Iranians according to conservative estimates commissioned by the Pentagon. Nuclear armed planes are now on constant alert and public opinion has been framed around those mad, mad statements on Israel by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But what if the pronouncements by Ahmadinejad that cast him as this season’s baddie incarnate had been a) mistranslated and b) taken out of context?
When properly translated the Iranian president actually calls for the removal of the regimes that are in power in Israel and in the USA as a goal for the future. Nowhere does he demand the elimination or annihilation of Israel. He called for greater governance for Palestine. The word map does not even feature. And the president makes plain that the Holocaust happened, but, he argues western powers have exploited the memory of the Holocaust for their own imperialistic purposes. What the mainstream ran with is complete deception.
The deception has been aided by the fact that much of the media use an ‘independent’ company called Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) for translating Middle Eastern languages. Memri just happens to be owned by two right-wing neo-con Israelis: Meyrav Wurmser, the wife of one of Dick Cheney’s aides (and ex-special assistant to ‘Strap-on’ John Bolton), David Wurmser and former(?) Israeli Military Intelligence officer, Colonel Yigal Carmon. Indeed a look at Wikipedia’ s incomplete staff list seems to suggest a heavy Israeli bias in staffing and at least two more ex-Israeli Military Intelligence people. Still the little red email is sure that’s just a coincidence, as is the fact that the Israeli army (presumably military intelligence) has also used this mistranslation tactic in the past.
And once Ahmadinejad had been brushed with the wacko Jew destroyer tag, it was a short hop, skip and ein Sprung before he was alongside Adolf Hitler in the pantheon of baddies. Like Milosevic and Hussein before him, Ahmadinejad’s Hitler comparison is as sure a sign war is imminent.
Unlike Hitler though Ahmadinejad doesn’t rule Iran, nor does he control its foreign or military policy. The man in charge of all that is Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran is a theocracy, and Khamenei is the theocrat-in-chief. To give you an idea of where Ahmadinejad lies in Iran’s political hierarchy, note that no one can even run for the presidency in the first place without the approval of Khamenei and the Guardian Council, a group of six clerics and six conservative jurists that are selected by Khamenei.
Ahmadinejad serves the purpose of being a believable bogeyman. He’ll find his Ph.D. in civil engineering and being a founding member of the Iran Tunnel Society useful if Seymour Hersch’s bunker-busting nuke allegations come true.