In his first major speech, in October 2005, the one that gained him notoriety, Ahmadinejad declared that the Zionist regime in Israel “must be eliminated from the pages of history.” Many will recall this quote. But only very few people have read the rest of the speech and so understood the context of the threat. Let me please quote just three more sentences of this famous talk.In it, Ahmadinejad said: “We are in the process of a historical war between the World of Arrogance and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years.”
So as we can see, the roots of this “historical war” have nothing to do with Israel or the Middle East conflict. The speaker views the destruction of Israel as a stage in a war that started long before the foundation of Israel. But what is meant by “World of Arrogance”? I will come back to this point.
He also said: “We have to understand the depth of the disgrace of the enemy, until our holy hatred expands continuously and strikes like a wave.” Here a religiously inspired feeling of superiority is contrasted with the “depth of the disgrace of the enemy”. But the notion of a “holy hatred” is also striking. This hatred is unconditional: it cannot be moderated through any kind of Western or Jewish behavior. It currently expresses itself in the first instance as hatred of a recalcitrant and rather pro-Western Iranian people that has to be silenced through stonings, public executions, mass arrests, torture and censorship. Above and beyond this, the expression of this “holy hatred” is destined to “expand continuously” to a global level and to overwhelm the world like a mighty tsunami.
Third and final quotation from the speech: “In this very grave war, many people are trying to scatter grains of desperation and hopelessness. They ask: ‘Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?’ But you had best know that this goal is attainable, and surely can be achieved.”
Imagine if the leader of a medium-sized Western country, for example Mr Berlusconi, the former Italian head of government, had made a speech in which he talked about a historical war against the Islamic world, denounced the “depth of the Islamic world’s disgrace”, summoned up Christianity’s “holy hatred” of Islam and finally pronounced the goal of erasing Saudi Arabia and Pakistan from the map realizable.
The entire talk is wonderfully argued. Read it all. I will only extract a few more ideas from it for reference, and to convey the four key characteristics of this Iranian Holy War against the world, which should be differentiated from the less dangerous but no-less objectionable Salafist/Al-Qaeda Holy War against the world.
The world beyond is more important than this one
During the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, the semi-official Iranian daily Ettela’at wrote the following:
In the past, we had child-volunteers: 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds. They went into the minefields. Their eyes saw nothing. Their ears heard nothing. And then, a few moments later, one saw clouds of dust. When the dust had settled again, there was nothing more to be seen of them. Somewhere, widely scattered in the landscape, there lay scraps of burnt flesh and pieces of bone.” Such scenes could henceforth be avoided, Ettela’at assured its readers. “Before entering the mine fields, the children [now] wrap themselves in blankets and they roll on the ground, so that their body parts stay together after the explosion of the mines and one can carry them to the graves.”
The children who thus rolled to their deaths formed part of the mass Basij movement that was called into being by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. They consisted of short-term volunteer militias and represented about 30 percent of the personnel on the battlefield. Most Basij members were between 12 and 18 years young. They went enthusiastically and by their thousands to their own destruction.
“The natural world,” Khomeini explained in October 1980, “is the lowest element, the scum of creation.” What is decisive is the beyond: the “divine world – that is eternal.” According to Khomeini’s mindset, the martyrs’ death is nothing but the transition from this world to the world beyond, where they will live on eternally and in splendor.
Before Khomeini, for a Muslim deliberately to be sent to certain death was considered sacrilege within Islam.
Reason as sin
The second characteristic of the holy war relates to Islamist epistemology. I must admit that it took me a long time to understand this aspect. For us, the employment of reason is the most self-evident thing in the world. For Islamists the use of reason – apart from in the natural sciences – is an expression of arrogance – hence our castigation as the “World of Arrogance” – and an offence against God. Their starting point is that the Koran must be interpreted and applied literally. But evidently, any kind of reason-based doubt undermines such an approach to the Koran. As a result, doubt and conjecture are opposed.
It is the Iranian leadership’s special sense of mission that propels them along the course toward confrontation with the West. “Our nation’s important mission” Ahmadinejad enthused only some days ago, “is to introduce the Islamic Revolution to the whole of mankind.”
Liberation through annihilation
The Iranian leaders do not at all regard themselves as antisemites.
“We are friends with the Jewish people”, stated Ahmadinejad in Columbia. Moreover, the 25,000 or so Jews in Iran represent the largest Jewish community in any Muslim country.
Nonetheless, Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric is steeped in an antisemitism not found in any state leader since World War II.
Ahmadinejad does not say “Jews” are conspiring to rule the world. Instead he says, “Two thousand Zionists want to rule the world.” Instead he says, “The Zionists” have for 60 years now blackmailed “all Western governments.” “The Zionists have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural, and media sectors.” “The Zionists” fabricated the Danish Muhammad cartoons. “The Zionists thrive on war and hatred,” Ahmadinejad claims. “Everywhere they exist there is war.” The pattern is familiar. He invests the word “Zionist” with exactly the same meaning Hitler poured into “Jew”: the incarnation of evil. Anyone who makes Jews – whether as “Judas” or as “Zionist” – responsible for all the ills of the world is obviously driven by antisemitism. He must want to eliminate Israel, as the “germ of evil”, in order to save the world. He must deny the truth of the Holocaust in order to pave the way for his “truth”. The demonization of Jews, Holocaust denial, and the will to eliminate Israel – these are the three elements of an ideological constellation that collapses as soon as one of the elements is removed.
“The extermination of Jewry throughout the world”, declared a Nazi directive from 1943, is “the precondition for an enduring peace.” Liberation through annihilation. This is similar to the mission that Islamism has set out upon whose first target is Israel. As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put it, “The Zionist regime will be wiped out and humanity will be liberated.”
He reiterated this belief in his most recent speech at the United Nations in September 2007: “The age of darkness will end”, he enthused to the General Assembly and “the peoples in Europe and America will be liberated from the burdens the Zionists have inflicted on them”.
So let me now sum up on this final point: There are other dictatorships in the world. But only in Iran are the fantasy-worlds of antisemitism and religious mission linked with technological megalomania and the physics of mass destruction. The specific danger presented by the Iranian nuclear option stems from the unique ideological atmosphere surrounding it – a mixture of holy war and high-tec, of antisemitism and weapons-grade uranium, of death-wish and missile research, of Shiite messianism and plutonium.
Trackposted to Outside the Beltway, third world county, Maggie’s Notebook, Adam’s Blog, Shadowscope, The Pink Flamingo, The Amboy Times, Democrat=Socialist, , CORSARI D’ITALIA, Dumb Ox Daily News, Conservative Cat, Gone Hollywood, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.