The World without Zionism (4)
Aljazeera.net has the following version of Ahmadinejad's speech:
NEWS GLOBAL NEWS, Friday, October 28, 2005
Ahmadinejad: Wipe Israel off map
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has openly called for Israel to be wiped off the map.
"The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world," the president told a conference in Tehran on Wednesday, entitled The World without Zionism.
"The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land," he said.
"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," said Ahmadinejad, referring to Iran's revolutionary leader Ayat Allah Khomeini.
His comments were the first time in years that such a high-ranking Iranian official has called for Israel's eradication, even though such slogans are still regularly used at government rallies.
Call for unity
Addressing about 4000 students gathered in an Interior Ministry conference hall, Ahmadinejad also called for Palestinian unity, resistance and a point "where the annihilation of the Zionist regime will come".
"The Islamic umma (community) will not allow its historic enemy to live in its heartland," he said in the fiery speech that centred on a "historic war between the oppressor and the world of Islam".
The term "oppressor" is used by the clerical government to refer to the United States.
"We should not settle for a piece of land," he said of Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip.
"Anyone who signs a treaty which recognises the entity of Israel means he has signed the surrender of the Muslim world," Ahmadinejad said.
"Any leaders in the Islamic umma who recognise Israel face the wrath of their own people."
Ahmadinejad, a veteran of Iran's hardline Revolutionary Guards, took office in August after scoring a landslide win in a June presidential election.
His tone represents a major change from that of former president Mohammad Khatami, whose favoured topic was "dialogue among civilisations" and who led an effort to improve Iran's relations with the West.
But Ahmadinejad instead spoke of a "historic war".
"It dates backs hundreds of years. Sometimes Islam has advanced. Sometimes nobody was winning. Unfortunately over the past 300 years, the world of Islam has been in retreat," he lamented.
"One hundred years ago the last trench of Islam fell, when the oppressors went towards the creation the Zionist regime. It is using it as a fort to spread its aims in the heart of the Islamic world."
In September, Bahrain announced it was ending a decades-old law banning trade ties with Israel. Earlier this month, Qatar said it was donating US$6 million to help build a soccer stadium for a mixed Arab-Jewish team, the first such financial assistance by an Arab state for any town inside Israel.
The modest but unprecedented steps were seen as a response to Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in September. Nevertheless, Ahmadinejad said, "There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world."
"Ahmadinejad has clearly declared the doctrine of his government. He is returning Iran to the revolutionary goals it was pursuing in the 1980s," said Mohammad Sadeq Hosseini, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs.
"By these comments, Ahmadinejad is committing himself to those goals. He is also sending the message that his government won't back down."