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      Ahmadinejad: Conditions for Removal of Israel Are at Hand

      Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, clearing up any ambiguity in previous calls to “wipe Israel off the map,” uses an Arabic word for the removal of body hair to describe his plans for Israel.
      By Ezra HaLevi
      First Publish: 7/10/2006, 9:24 AM / Last Update: 7/9/2006, 7:32 PM

      “All the conditions for the removal of the Zionist regime are at hand,” Ahmadinejad told an Arab Conference of Iraqi Neighbors meeting on Saturday. For the first time, he employed the Arabic word ezaleh, which is used to describe the irreversible removal of body hairs.

      “Nations in the region will be more furious every day. It won’t take long before the wrath of the people turns into a terrible explosion that will wipe the Zionist entity off the map,” Ahmadinejad told the foreign ministers of Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Bahrain and Egypt. The heads of the Arab League and the Islamic Conference were also present, in addition to a special United Nations representative.

      None of the foreign ministers present, including Jordan, Egypt or Turkey - commonly regarded as Israel’s friends in the Arab/Muslim world - objected to the call for annihilation. Instead, the following statement was issued: “The Arab foreign ministers participating in today's Tehran meeting expressed their strong condemnation of this continuing and increasing aggression against the Palestinian people."

      The Iranian president went on to blame all of the region’s troubles on the Jewish state:
      "The basic problem in the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime, and the Islamic world and the region must mobilize to remove this problem. It is a usurper that our enemies made and imposed on the Muslim world, a regime that prevented the progress of the region’s nations, a regime that all Muslims must join hands in isolating worldwide.”

      He ended with a call on all nations to cease their support of Israel:
      “[All nations] should realize that their support for the illegitimate, usurper, Zionist regime is a mistake. The waves of fury of Muslim nations will not be confined within the boundaries of the region, and the people who close their ears to the cries of the Palestinians and blindly support this regime will be responsible for the consequences... I tell them to dissociate themselves or face the terrible consequences.”

      Since Ahmadinejad’s call to “wipe Israel off the map” last October, some academics have claimed the Iranian leader was mistranslated or misunderstood.

      "Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map, because no such idiom exists in Persian," left-wing University of Michigan professor Juan Cole told the New York Times. "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse… Since Iran has not attacked another country aggressively for over a century, I smell the whiff of war propaganda."

      Jonathan Steele of the British Guardian newspaper also told the Times:
      "The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran's first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that 'this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,' just as the Shah's regime in Iran had vanished. He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The 'page of time' phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon."

      Neither of the two have responded to Ahmadinejad’s latest clarification and call to action, which were translated and distributed by the Iranian state-run IRNA news agency.

      The Iranian leader's threats are particularly significant as the Islamic Republic continues to pursue nuclear technology and world bodies continue to pursue diplomatic means of inducing Iran to give up its nuclear aspirations.