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Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Dan Meridor Admits Iran’s Ahmadinejad Never Vowed to “Wipe Israel off the Map”

It is one of the most widely cited reasons why Iran poses an existential threat to Israel, used to justify all sorts of militant rhetoric towards a country that hasn’t started a war with any of its neighbors in centuries. And now, a leading Israeli official has finally come forward to admit it was all a lie.

It is accepted as a given in Israel and the United States that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to “wipe Israel off the map.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and successive US presidents have referred to Ahmadinejad’s threatening promise as proof that he’s a crazed madman hell-bent on the destruction of the Jewish state.

But Ahmadinejad never said those words. 

Delivering a 2005 speech titled, not helpfully, “The World Without Zionism,” Ahmadinejad gave a nod to the late Ayatollah Khomenei, the George Washington, if you will, of Iran’s Islamic revolution. He said, in Farsi:

“Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad as safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.”

Translation: “The Imam (Khomenei) said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.” The Israeli regime. What Ahmadinejad was advocating was not the destruction of Israel, but regime change in Israel– the very same thing that the United States had just done in next-door Iraq (and was perhaps considering doing in Iran itself).

Never in the speech did he mention wiping anyone off the map.

Never did he utter a word about killing Israelis.

His beef is with the Israeli regime that is occupying Jerusalem and Palestine against international law and the wishes of the overwhelming majority of humanity.

Ironically, it was the Iranians themselves who bear much of the responsibility for the “wipe Israel off the map” misquote. IRNA, the state news (and propaganda) agency used the mistranslated phrase in their coverage of the speech, and international media outlets like the BBC, al-Jazeera, Timeand others gleefully grabbed the shocking headline and ran with it without verifying it or referring to its source.  In doing so, they handed US hawks– on a silver platter– a splendid casus belli for waging war on Iran. Ahmadinejad’s juvenile obfuscation when pressed on the quote does not help matters one bit.

Now, years later, a leading Israeli official has come forward to confess that the “wipe Israel off the map” comment never left Ahmadinejad’s lips. Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, told Al Jazeera that Iran never vowed to “wipe Israel off the map,” despite the false assertions of Netanyahu, Bush and other Iran-haters.

Meridor opined that Iran’s rulers  “all come basically ideologically, religiously with the statement that Israel is an unnatural creature, it will not survive.”  But… “they didn’t say ‘we’ll wipe it out,’ but (rather) ‘it will not survive, it is a cancerous tumor, it should be removed’. They repeatedly said ‘Israel is not legitimate, it should not exist’.”

Meridor is to be commended for his honesty. But it is highly likely that Iran hawks in Israel and the United States will always have that false “wipe Israel off the map” comment burned in their heads. As Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels famously said, “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

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