Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Juan Cole defends Ahmadinejad, condemns Obama's denunciation of his anti-Semitic U.N. speech

As I recently posted, Barack Obama has strongly condemned the bigotry of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement to the U.N. and called for increased pressure on Iran to thwart their developing nuclear weapons (read here).

Ahmadinejad said the following to the U.N. General Assembly:

"A small but deceitful number of people called Zionists ... dominat(e) an important portion of the financial and monetary centers ... (in) a deceitful, complex and furtive manner."
Obama said this in response (read here):

"I strongly condemn President Ahmadinejad's outrageous remarks at the United Nations, and am disappointed that he had a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views. The threat from Iran's nuclear program is grave. Now is the time for Americans to unite on behalf of the strong sanctions that are needed to increase pressure on the Iranian regime.

"Once again, I call upon Senator McCain to join me in supporting a bipartisan bill to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by allowing states and private companies to divest from companies doing business in Iran. The security of our ally Israel is too important to play partisan politics, and it is deeply disappointing that Senator McCain and a few of his allies in Congress feel otherwise."

Now Juan Cole has written a lengthy column for Salon in which he condemns Obama's condemnation while entirely glossing over Ahmadinejad's outrageous bigotry. To Cole, it's as if it never happened.

from Salon:Obama goes over the top in bashing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

"Sen. Barack Obama responded with outrage to the remarks made Tuesday by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the United Nations General Assembly, expressing regret that the quirky little president was even allowed to speak."
--cut

"In his speech, Ahmadinejad said "the American empire ... is reaching the end of the road" and accused the U.N. Security Council of allowing "Zionist murders" because of "pressure from a few bullying powers." Obama issued a statement saying, "I strongly condemn President Ahmadinejad's outrageous remarks at the United Nations, and am disappointed that he had a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views." He added, "The threat from Iran's nuclear program is grave." Obama then called on his rival in the presidential race, Sen. John McCain, "to join me in supporting a bipartisan bill to increase pressure on the Iranian regime by allowing states and private companies to divest from companies doing business in Iran." He slammed McCain, saying that the senator was playing partisan politics by declining to join Obama in this divestment campaign.

"In the heat of the campaign, Obama surely overreached himself in appearing to advocate barring leaders of member states from addressing the United Nations because their views are obnoxious to Americans. He also fell into the trap of declining to make a distinction between anti-Zionist views and anti-Semitic ones."

Cole has swallowed whole Ahmadinejad's substition of the word "Zionist" for "Jew" in the context of a classic anti-Jewish stereotype: Jewish control of international finance. Moreover, Cole says that he doubts that Ahmadinejad has any ill intentions for Jews because he hasn't killed them in Iran.

"If Ahmadinejad wanted to launch a second Holocaust, would he not begin at home?"

So Cole is satisfied that Ahmadinejad is just a quirky guy who means no harm to Jews. The problem as he sees it is that bad guys like Barack Obama just don't understand Ahmadinejad like Cole does. After all, all Ahmadinejad wants to do is wipe out the state of Israel. But according to Cole, that's really no big deal, and people who do think it's a big deal are playing the anti-Semitism card. That kind of person just won't accept any criticism of Israel, and they will unfairly destroy the reputation of anyone who opposes them.

Cole says that Ahmadinejad merely supports what Cole calls the "vanishing of the regime" and replacing it with "a single democratically elected state in Israel and Palestine". Cole goes on to say:

Committed Zionists, that is to say, Jewish nationalists, who believe that Israel must remain a Jewish-majority state, often see the advocacy of a one-state solution (in which Israeli Jews might be reduced to a simple majority or even only a plurality of the population) as a dire threat to the Jewish people. They are also known to smear anyone who demurs from their rigid conception of nationalism as an anti-Semite or even a terrorist. However, neither their conviction that any criticism of Israel must be prohibited, nor their insistence on a state dominated by a single ethnicity, nor their often unpleasant tactics of the destruction of reputations should stand in the way of Americans seeking an unblinkered understanding of contemporary Iran and pursuing American interests in regard to relations with Tehran.

Wow.

Cole is very "understanding" of Ahmadinejad. He seems to think of him as a fellow misunderstood victim of Zionist smears.

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