Column: Off the map

By Elie Dvorin

Iran has been the target of minor criticism after comment by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, calling for the destruction of Israel. In a rant that has become commonplace in the Arab world, Ahmadenijad called for the state of Israel to be “wiped off the map.” Hello, Ayatollah.

If Ahmadenijad was a Western leader calling for another nation to be arbitrarily obliterated, the depths of hell would open like never before. And that’s a fair response, because in the West we hold ourselves to a standard of diplomatic behavior that’s as foreign to the Arab world as … democracy.

A relatively large contingent of public officials and world leaders have criticized the remarks. At the same time, most have come to expect that type of rhetoric from the Iranian leadership. The irony is that while Ahmadenijad promised to make Iran “modern and advanced” during his election a few months ago, he’s ensuring that Iran won’t escape the Stone Age anytime soon.

After publicly calling for Israel’s destruction, Ahmadenijad couldn’t miss the opportunity to add the United States’ demise to the wish list when he said “God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism.”

After expressing revulsion over these remarks, Tony Blair hit the nail on the head. “There has been a long time in which I’ve been answering questions on Iran with everyone saying to me ‘tell us you’re not going to do anything about Iran,'” he said. “If they carry on like this, the question people are going to be asking us is, ‘When are you going to do something about this,’ because you imagine a state like that with an attitude like that having a nuclear weapon.”

Ahmadenijad has proven that he’s no different from the other Islamofascists in the Iranian government – past and present. But he may prove to be more dangerous. A nuclear weapon in the hand of the Iranian government would spell certain destruction for Israel and would serve as a constant threat over the United States. If the Iranians find a way to expedite their nuclear program, the rules of war will have to be rewritten.

The Iranians know one thing is certain. Israel, for good reason, will not let the Iranian nuclear program come to fruition. Whatever it takes to stop the program, Israel is willing to do. Its very survival is dependent on neutralizing the terrorist-supporting radical regimes in the Middle East.

The question we have to ask is whether the United States is willing to take military action against Iran to prevent a nuclear weapons program. Iran has proven time and time again that it is unwilling to halt their nuclear program despite constant efforts from the United Nations and European nations to work out a diplomatic solution. Unfortunately, the disaster in Iraq has significantly hurt the Bush administration’s ability to militarily address the Iranian nuclear program.

Critics of an Israeli pre-emptive strike against the Iranian nuclear facilities would argue that we shouldn’t read too much into a single comment by a radical leader. The problem with that thinking is that this comment is commonplace in this backwards regime. In 2001, the former Iranian president, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said, “When the Islamic world acquires atomic weapons, the strategy of the West will hit a dead end – since the use of a single atomic bomb has the power to destroy Israel completely, while it will only cause partial damage to the Islamic world.”

Israel recognizes that these Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction coupled with the Iranian attempt to acquire nuclear weapons pose a threat that must be taken seriously. The Israeli government has a moral obligation to its citizens to destroy any ability Iran has of attacking Israel. The Iranian officials have made their political careers by throwing threats at the Jewish state, but will they continue to do so after they feel the wrath of the Israeli defense force?

Elie Dvorin is a senior in LAS. His column appears every Monday. He can be reached at [email protected] dailyillini.com.