Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In which Linda defends Iran

Specifically, some of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's thoughts about Israel. I am so tired of hearing ignorant reaction to and poor translation of Ahmadinejad's comments, and again tonight in the presidential debate we were treated to some fearmongering about "wiping Israel off the map."

The first time I ever heard someone "quote" that statement the one-time ESL teacher (and the critical thinker!) in me said, "I bet that isn't an entirely accurate translation." By all accounts, of course, I am right. Ahmadinejad was talking about a regime he perceives as illegitimate. Why illegitimate? Because "Israel" or perhaps more accurately Occupied Palestine is a so-called nation that displaced Palestinians and has somehow managed to create a popular perception in the U.S. and who knows where else in the world of "Israel good. Arab bad." without much more thought to it than that.

Ahmadinejad and several other Iranian officials have repeatedly explained that no one wants to start a war, blow anyone up, nor massacre a group of people. They have clarified that they don't even want to displace the Israeli population. What do they want? Free elections! A voice for Palestinians! Freeing Palestinian refugees! Is that so much to ask?

They have called for an election in which ALL the residents of that land -- Jewish, Muslim, Christian -- get to vote, and that alone would create a legitimate government there in "Israel"/Palestine. Why don't we allow that to happen? Are we just afraid the Zionist regime will be revealed for the unpopular mistake that it is?

A friend of mine once pondered, if in the face of the holocaust the world felt compelled to give the Jews a nation, why did they have to send Palestinians into exile? Why not do it in Germany? Wasn't it Germany that was responsible? Kick them off their land instead! Yeah, ha ha - but seriously, why not? Because of all this "holy land" nonsense? Once again, as a different friend put it, once you wrap some nonsense in a religious cloak it becomes untouchable.

Well, I'll touch it. I am not for blowing anyone up or wiping any nation off a map in a violent sense. I am 100% for peace. But I won't say that Israel as we know it rightfully exists. I totally get Ahmadinejad's point - his actual point, not some mistranslated one - and I think it's irresponsible of the rest of you to not try to understand it.

Do yourself a favor and watch the documentary Promises.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

It's very rare that someone speaks out in defense of Palestinians, so I have to thank you for doing so. I knew nothing about the conflict over there until I went to visit my sister in February. She lives in Jenin (on the West Bank) and got married to a Palestinian refugee. When I went over for her wedding, I studied up what I could on the conflict and went over there without a real opinion on who was right and who was wrong. After going over there, my experiences shaped my feelings with regards to the conflict, and I get so angry now about the American support - unconditional support - going into Israel. I don't believe it's right for the Palestinians to blow people up, but I can certainly understand where they're coming from, and in the face of the torture and violence that occurs towards them, I imagine they feel they have little choice.

My brother in law gave me a copy of a book of essays written by the children of the Jenin refugee camp. It was an arabic/english double-language book which he helped translate. The experiences these kids tell are heartbreaking, and the situation isn't getting any better. It's hard to drive through Israel, with its very American-like wealth, and cross the border into gun-ridden, motion-sickness inducing roads, smelling of sewage, and not feel something's utterly wrong there.