Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Iran really, not rhetorically, wants to destroy Israel, Supreme Leader told Spanish PM

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In the debate about what to do about the Iranian nuclear program, some have sought to downplay repeated Iranian calls for Israel's destruction - something that obviously strongly concerns Israel's leaders.

Despite Iranian President Ahmadinejad's promise to "wipe Israel off the map", and similar statements from Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, some sceptics have dismissed such talk as mere rhetoric, with no practical significance.

Others have challenged the official state translation of Ahmedinejad's words (but of a whole series of his unequivocal statement, see here), while still others simply re-interpret such statements as meaning that Iran is simply urging the peaceful political evolution of Israel into a Palestinian state. Those making such arguments often dismiss Israeli concerns that the Iranian nuclear program represents an existential threat to Israel, as bordering on paranoia.

However, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has now severely damaged all these attempts to explain away the belligerent Iranian statements. He has revealed that the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei unequivocally expressed to him, personally, his intention to destroy Israel, not politically but militarily and via Iranian military action.

Moreover, Aznar said that he believes the current nuclear drive is directly linked to the anti-Israel aspirations expressed by Khamenei.

Aznar told a crowd in Jerusalem on May 16:

"In a private discussion we held in Tehran in October of 2000, Ali Khamenei told me that Israel must be burned to the ground and made to disappear from the face of the Earth."

The former Spanish Prime Minister also said that Khamenei told him "Iran's war against the United States and Israel is inevitable."

Israel Hayom reported:

"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.'"

Aznar estimates that Iran's nuclear program is a direct by-product of national aspirations expressed by Khamenei during that meeting.

Regarding next week's scheduled talks in Baghdad between Iran and the world's powers over the Iranian nuclear program, Aznar believes that that international community must precisely define the limits of the negotiations, otherwise the Iranians would simply play for time.

Aznar led Spain's government from 1996 to 2004. Since then he has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and founded the Friends of Israel Initiative, a project to defend Israel's right to exist that includes in its ranks a number of other notable international figures, including: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate David Trimble, Peru's former President Alejandro Toledo, Italian philosopher Marcello Pera, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and British historian Andrew Roberts.

The project was established out of a concern about the "unprecedented campaign of delegitimisation against Israel waged by the enemies of the Jewish State and, supported by numerous international institutions."

Sharyn Mittelman

 

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