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Media Analyses





Michigan Muslim Leader Defends Iranian President's Call to Wipe Out Israel


On November 5th, the Detroit News featured one of the strongest editorials published to date condemning the Iranian President's call for Israel to be wiped off the map. It not only condemned it, but reminded the public that Iran is deadly serious in its genocidal threat and its nuclear program must be stopped at all costs:

Iran must be stopped at all costs from developing nuclear capability...if Iran gets the bomb, it will use it on Jews...Understanding that genocide remains the ultimate goal of at least some of Israel's neighbors, the United States must stand unshakably opposed to any measure that would leave Israel less secure if and when the peace talks move forward. Israel must not be left vulnerable for the sake of a peace deal that only serves to buy time for those plotting its ultimate destruction...The world has an obligation to stop pretending that the nut cases in the Middle East and elsewhere don't mean what they say when they shout over and over, 'Death to Israel.' That is exactly what they mean, and the implications are ignored at the risk of another holocaust.

Oddly, on the same day, the newspaper published an Op-Ed by Mohammad Ali Elahi, imam of a major mosque in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. He sought to explain the context regarding Iranian President Ahmedinejad's call to wipe Israel off the map. Unfortunately, Imam Elahi's column is laced with outright falsehoods and unsubstantiated accusations and even tries to justify the Iranian President's words by comparing it to a passage from the American Declaration of Independence!

Mr. Elahi contends he is only providing context for President Ahmedinejad's remarks. In fact the content of his article is a litany of misrepresentations and falsehoods that demonize Israel. Below is a list of the inaccuracies. We have commented on some [in brackets], but there are too many to go into detail on each, and some need no explanation.

Imam Elahi claims that:

1. "Israel...on numerous occasions threatened Iran with military and possibly nuclear attacks."
[Former Iranian President Rafsanjani threatened to use nuclear weapons against Israel. No Israeli leader has threatened Iran with a nuclear attack.]
 
2. "Why was there no similar media frenzy when Israel called for regime change in Iran?"
[ Israel has expressed the need for regime change in Iran — a change in leadership, not for the extermination of all Iranians.]
 
3. "After almost 60 years of United Nations resolutions on the occupation, Israel continues to refuse to abide by international law."
[ Virtually all of the anti-Israel UN resolutions are non-binding.]
 
4. " 'One man, one vote' worked for us here in the United States, and it is worth a try in the Holy Land."
[ Every citizen of Israel, including its more than one million Muslim and Christian citizens, has equal voting rights. Arabs vote and have elected representatives in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. ]
 
5. "Israel was created by war and the expulsion of the Palestinian people."
[ Israel was created out of the partition of Palestine approved by the UN in 1947 and its declaration of Independence on May 15, 1948. The next day the Arab armies invaded Israel in an attempt to destroy the new state. Many Palestinians fled out of fear and/or at the urging of Arab leaders despite pleas by Israeli leaders to remain as equal citizens of Israel.]

6. "It is very clear that Ahmadinejad was not making an anti-Semitic statement."

7. "Jews live in Iran and have representatives in Parliament."
[ * 3/4 of Iran's Jewish community fled after the Islamic regime was established. Those that remain are subject to discrimination and intimidation. In July 2000, 11 Jews were wrongly convicted of spying for Israel in what was widely regarded as a show trial.

* Under the laws of the Islamic Republic, the words or actions of an individual Jew may legally affect the well being of the entire Jewish community.

* Iranian courts refuse to accept the testimony of a Jew against a Muslim and in the case of murder or accidental death, a Jew's life is valued at one eighth that of a Muslim.

*The Jewish representative in Parliament is required by the Islamic state as the Jewish community is a recognized minority in Iran. The representative is severely restricted in what he can say and must support Iranian policy. ]

8. "The Iranian president's quip can best be understood in the American context of the Declaration of Independence.."

9. "Iran's provocative words offer a basis for a real dialogue and lasting peace."

10. "During ....the Khatami presidency in Iran, he tried repeatedly to engage...Israel in a meaningful dialogue about the Palestinian issue."

11. "Israel must end the property confiscation of ethnic groups considered 'inferior' to Jews."
[No Israeli policy describes any ethnic group as inferior. It is Islamic law (as practiced in Iran) that codifies treatment of Jews and Christians as second class citizens, called "dhimmis."]

12. "Israel must stop instigating violent conflicts in the Muslim world."

13. "Israel must return the occupied territories back to its original owners. "
[ Who exactly are these original owners - the Canaanites, the Jews, Arab invaders, Crusaders, or the Ottoman Turks? In 1947, and still true today, the vast majority of land in question was state owned land, not privately owned land.]

The newspaper has previously featured several op-eds by Imam Elahi. His views are well known to the staff:

* One op-ed described the assassinated Hamas founder, Ahmed Yassin as a "Palestinian spiritual leader, [who] had a heart full of love for humanity, especially for the poor and suffering. This was one of the worst and ugliest crimes Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ever committed."

* After the attack on the World Trade Center, in an exchange reported by Arnaud de Borchgrave, the Imam claimed that "It was Mossad and Israel that perpetrated those horrible crimes of Sept. 11."

Would the Detroit News publish an Op-Ed defending a call by the head of a radical state to wipe out the entire population of a Muslim country? Why is it ok to provide a forum to defend a head of state who calls for wiping out all Israelis?

Virtually the entire world outside of some hardline Muslim nations have condemned the remarks of President Ahmedinejad, including even the United Nations and moderate Arab states. As noted above, the paper printed a strong editorial condemning President Ahmadinejad's statement on the same day. But by including Imam Elahi's distorted, inflammatory piece, the Detroit News unacceptably signals that the call to exterminate Israel is a topic of legitimate debate where both points of view are given equal weight.



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