What Ahmadinejad Does Not Say

He is curiously silent about two things.

Shalom Freedman

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Time and time again, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for and predicted the destruction of Israel. The debate aroused by his October 26, 2005, remark as to whether he did or did not really intend to say that Israel should be "wiped off the map" has been clearly resolved by many subsequent statements in which he
He is trying by his words to terrorize and bring about the result that he predicts.
has called for and predicted Israel's destruction. He has repeatedly used abusive and degrading language, spoken of Israel as a rotting corpse and as a rat being chased by Hizbullah and the Palestinians. He has said that very soon the Middle East will be rid of the Zionist entity.

From 2005 to the present, there are repeated hysterical proclamations that the Zionist entity will soon come to an end.

Clearly his aim is, by threatening and predicting, to weaken the will of the leaders and people of Israel. Essentially, he is trying by his words to terrorize and bring about the result that he predicts. The words themselves are a weapon in the battle. But they cannot be the decisive weapon. Even he must know that threatening and predicting are not enough.

Moreover, despite his obsessive repeating of the call and the prediction, Ahmadinejad is curiously silent about two elements: the precise way he expects the "destruction" to take place; and the Iranian part in bringing this about. True, in the summer of 2006, Ahmadinejad praised Hizbullah and said that they, in fighting against Israel, had begun the process of its destruction. Ahmadinejad has also said that Palestinian groups are bringing this about. But he has never really gone into great detail about this.

Nor has he said that Iran will be the means to accomplish the end. And he has not, like his predecessor Hashemi Rafsanjani, made an explicit threat of wiping Israel out in a nuclear war. In fact, he has said that Islamic law forbids the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Ahmadinejad too does not rant and rail against all Jews in Nazi fashion, does not speak about wiping them from face of the Earth. He speaks instead about the "Zionists" and about "destroying Israel." He does not directly threaten genocide.

One reason Ahmadinejad is silent about the means he intends to use to bring about Israel's destruction is the feeling that should he declare this, the world would somehow have greater incentive to stop him. Declaring an intention to wipe out Israel through nuclear means would undermine the Iranian effort to attain nuclear weapons. The silence is tactical a means to enable Iran to go on in its effort to attain nuclear capability.
It is possible to strongly suspect that he would use any means at his disposal.

Silence, however, as to means is not accompanied by inaction. The effort to enrich enough uranium to produce a weapon, to "weaponize" - or prepare - the warhead continues. So do Iran's efforts to supply and train Hizbullah and Hamas, and to strengthen the Syrian regime. Ahmadinejad does not speak of these weapons transfers either.

Given Ahmadinejad's obsession with destroying Israel, it is possible to strongly suspect that he would use any means at his disposal to do so. One cannot, however, be absolutely certain as to how realistic he and other Iranian leaders are about not simply preserving their own power, but preventing the massive disaster and destruction to the Iranian people which would come as Israeli retaliation to an Iranian nuclear attack.

It is thus impossible to know whether the fanatic or the pragmatic will rule in Ahmadinejad, whether his adherence to Shi'ite mystical apocalyptic doctrine associated with the coming of the twelfth Mahdi means that he is so intent on Israel's destruction that he will risk collective Iranian suicide to attain it.