Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 5/20/2012: How Explicit Does Iran Have To Be About Destroying Israel?

From DG:
1) What part of "wipe off the map" don't you understand?

When Israel cites threats against its existence, there are many who tend to underplay these threats and suggest that Israel is exaggerating for one reason or another. An example of this, Glenn Kessler's "Did Ahmadinejad really say Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’?" Kessler, the Washington Post's "fact checker" concluded:

“Wipe off the map,” in other words, has become easy shorthand for expressing revulsion at Iran’s anti-Israeli foreign policy. Certainly attention needs to be focused on that — and Iranian behavior in the region. But we’re going to award a Pinocchio to everyone — including ourselves — who has blithely repeated the phrase without putting it into context.
Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar recently answered the question about Tehran's actual policy regarding Israel in a conversation with Dore Gold (viaDaily Alert):

Aznar was in Israel as a guest of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, currently headed by former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Dore Gold. 
Gold asked him, "When Khamenei was talking about wiping Israel off the map, was he referring to a gradual historical process involving the collapse of the Zionist state, or rather its physical-military termination?" 
Aznar answered, "He meant physical termination through military force." The former Spanish leader also told the crowd that Khamenei described Israel as "an historical cancer, an anomaly," and said that he was "working toward Iran defeating the United States and Israel in an inevitable war against them."
So it wasn't figurative or speculative.

In case this isn't convincing enough, here's an item from Iran's semi-official news agency, Fars. (via Challah Hu Akbar)
Addressing a defense gathering here in Tehran on Sunday, General Firouzabadi said that nations should realize the threats and dangers posed by the Zionist regime of Israel. 
He reiterated the Iranian nation and Supreme Leader's emphasis on the necessity of support for the oppressed Palestinian nation and its causes, and noted, "The Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel." 
The top military official reminded that the Iranian Supreme Leader considers defending Palestine as a full religious duty and believes that any kind of governance and rule by anyone other than the Palestinians as an instance of usurpation.
So in case someone doubts Aznar's understanding of a conversation from 2000, here's a current leader of Iran's military explaining what Tehran's goal is.

2) Wiped from the map

But it does bother Iran when some things are wiped off the map.
Incensed over what it views as a Western-Arab plot, Iran on Thursday threatened to sue Google for deleting the name Persian Gulf from its online mapping service and leaving the body of water nameless. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, was quoted by the state-run news media as saying that Iran had already warned Google of possible legal action and “serious damages” if the Persian Gulf was not identified as such.
3) "Maturing" 

Last week I noted that AP reported:
The late Yasser Arafat's powerful moneyman is the target of the highest-profile Palestinian corruption probe to date, facing allegations he syphoned off millions of dollars in public funds, the chief investigator said Wednesday. 
Anti-corruption campaigners lauded the case against the shadowy former aide, Mohammed Rashid, as a sign of the maturing of the Palestinian political system, although the probe also appeared to be tinged with political intrigue.
At the time I thought that the "political intrigue" was likely more true than the "maturing of the Palestinian political system."

Khaled Abu Toameh confirmed my suspicion. In two recent articles, How much is Mahmoud Abbas worth?
The Palestinian Authority's decision to issue an arrest warrant against him does not seem to worry Rashid, who this week demanded a probe into Abbas's personal fortune, which he estimated at more than $100 million. 
So Abbas is saying that Rashid stole hundreds of millions of dollars, while Rashid is accusing the president of embezzling "only" $100 million. This is happening at a time when international donors are continuing to channel more funds every month to the Palestinian Authority, often without holding its leaders accountable or demanding to know how the money is being spent.

What is needed is an independent commission of inquiry to restore the public funds belonging to the Palestinian people. The Palestinians have many Mohammed Rashids who turned into wealthy businessmen during the peace process with Israel -- thanks to the naivety of Americans and Europeans.
and The Main Goal of the Palestinian Government:
Khreishah says that the Palestinian government is in fact lying when it talks about a financial crisis; its main goal is to get Western and Arab donors to channel more funds to Ramallah:
"Corruption in the Palestinian Authority is more widespread than in the past," he said. "We hear about the suffering and hunger of the poor and the difficulties facing the unemployed, farmers, villagers and civil servants," Khreishah said. "At the same time, we hear about the luxurious life of senior and influential officials and the involvement of some in money laundering." 
What Khreishah is saying is that Western donors, specifically the US and EU, are continuing to pour billions of dollars on the Palestinian Authority without holding its leaders fully accountable.
Abu Toameh makes the case that the Palestinian government remains as corrupt as it's ever been.
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