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Ahmadinejad undermines Palestinian cause

One of the many terrible things about Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is how his denial of the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis enables Israeli leaders to claim the moral high ground even while they systematically repress the Palestinian people.

Such was the case at the United Nations yesterday where Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to the podium to attack delegates who had not joined the walk-out when Ahmadinejad spoke the previous night. “Have you no shame?” “Have you no decency?”, said Netanyahu.

Coming from a man whose country stands accused of committing war crimes in Gaza in a UN report into its assault on the territory last year, and ignores all calls to halt settlement building on occupied Palestinian land, this is rich indeed.

Netanyahu was given the golden opportunity to portray Israel as the wronged party by Ahmadinejad’s speech in Tehran last week. Ahmadinejad, who himself clings to his country’s presidency by naked repression following the disputed election earlier this year, is an out-and-out Holocaust denier. And he was at again on a day set aside by Iran to mark the plight of the Palestinians.

Israel, claimed Ahmadinejad, was an “historical fabrication … based on a lie". And the “lie”? After accurately describing how the British, who had the mandate over Palestine, stood by as Zionists bought up land in the inter-war period, Ahmadinejad then went overboard, claiming: “… After the second world war they created the story of Holocaust … and then they made hundreds of films and wrote hundreds of books to argue they have suffered and need a home … This is a myth and Zionists are criminals, and corrupt."

For good measure, when he addressed the UN this week, Ahmadinejad alluded to a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, saying; "It is no longer acceptable that a small minority would dominate the politics, economy and culture of major parts of the world by its complicated networks."

These are the dangerous and confused ranting of a man who almost certainly stole the Iranian election and has had his thugs beat up, arrest and kill young people who oppose the regime. All his speeches do is weaken the Palestinian cause and strengthen the hand of Netanyahu and his ilk.

Israeli leaders, for example, never tire of lumping together anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, when they are clearly different and Ahmadinejad comes in handy here because he makes no distinction. Yet there is absolutely nothing wrong in being against or hostile to Zionism – which historically campaigned for a Jewish state in Palestine – so long as it seen as just a political movement. This does not make you anti-Jewish. Far from it because many Jews, perhaps even most, do not consider themselves Zionists.

Fortunately, unlike Ahmadinejad there are movements that can make this distinction. Spain has expelled a group of Israeli scientists from a state-funded solar energy competition because they are based in occupied areas of the West Bank.

The team was from the Ariel University Centre of Samaria and was taking part in Solar Decathlon Europe. Their expulsion follows hard on the heels of the decision by the Trades Union Congress in Britain last week to campaign for a boycott of goods produced in and exported from the Occupied Territories.

These are just some of the ways to isolate the Israeli regime and support the Palestinians which are a million times more progressive than anything Ahmadinejad can utter.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor
25 September 2009

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