These are the words of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:
“Israel must be wiped off the map […]. The establishment of a Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world. The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of the war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land.”
“Israel is destined for destruction and will soon disappear”
Israel is “a contradiction to nature, we foresee its rapid disappearance and destruction.”
‘’We say that this fake regime (Israel) cannot not logically continue to live. Open the doors (of Europe) and let the Jews go back to their own countries.”
“The world powers established this filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime, which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast. … “[Israel] won support [from the other nations] which created it as a scarecrow, so as to keep the people of this area under control.”
“The Zionist regime wants to establish its base upon the ruins of the civilizations of the region…The uniform shout of the Iranian nation is forever ‘Death to Israel.’…”
“The Zionist regime’s establishment was based on numerous deceptions and lies and one of the biggest lies was the Holocaust.”
These vile remarks would be expected from a neo-nazi hate group, not the President of a large nation. Sadly, these are the words of the Iranian President, a member of a regime not only spreading hate, but also seeking nuclear weapons.
The ruthless Iranian regime has denied Israel’s right to exist. They have mocked and denied the Holocaust. They have threatened to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.
These remarks are an affront to all who support peace and justice. They are also profoundly sad, as many of us would hope that our world has moved beyond expressions of hate.
As Canadians, and as a generation that prides ourselves on our respect for the human rights of all individuals, I believe that our deepest values of respect for human rights and human dignity compel us to speak out against the anti-semitism of the Iranian President and the regime of which he is a part.
Imagine if it was Canada that faced these threats of violence and genocide. Imagine how you would feel if a ruthless regime was seeking weapons that would give them the power to carry out their genocidal threats.
To live under the constant threat of annihilation is a fate that no person or nation deserves.
It must be made clear that there is no moral equivalency between a nation that threatens to destroy others, and a nation that seeks only to secure a peaceful life for it’s people. As Canadians, we believe in a balanced approach to world issues. Balance does not mean neutrality. Neutrality between one nation fighting for it’s right to survive, and a regime threatening genocide is not balance, and it is not justice. A balanced approach means that we respect Israel’s right to defend itself from destruction, while at the same time hoping for, and supporting a peaceful end to Iran’s nuclear program.
We do not want to look back on this era and recall that, even with the benefit of history’s clear lessons, we failed to speak up on behalf of the Jewish people. We do not want to look back and recall that we were silent in the face of anti-Semitism and incitements to genocide. This is not a legacy we want to leave.
While we condemn the comments and actions of the Iranian regime, we must recognize that while the Iranian Regime is a disgrace to all who support peace, the Iranian people are not defined by it. Iranians have suffered the worst under the oppression of the regime, and we cannot confuse the condemnation of Ahmadinejad and the regime with condemning the Iranian people on the whole. The Iranian people do not deserve to suffer.
With our freedom and relative security comes a responsibility to speak out for those who are in danger, and to stay true to the values we hold. If we are courageous enough to speak the truth, and if we recognize that every individual and every nation deserves the right to be acknowledged, the right to exist, and the right to live in peace, I believe that, slowly but surely, we will move our world toward a brighter future.
Spencer Fernando is the Comment Editor of the Manitoban.