WASHINGTON POST-WATCH: Iranian President “Frequent Critic of Israel”

A country’s president calls another nation “a black and dirty microbe” and “a savage animal.” This is a nation he recently claimed was doomed and one his colleagues have suggested could be destroyed with nuclear weapons. When does that rate as simple criticism? When the chief executive is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the nation in question is Israel, and the outlet reporting the news is the Washington Post.

Ahmadinejad asserted that “world powers have created a black and dirty microbe named the Zionist regime and have unleashed it like a savage animal on the nations of the region” in a speech to a February 20 rally in the city of Bandar Abbas. In the address, broadcast live on Iranian state television, Ahmadinejad also “accused world powers of establishing Israel to create a ‘scarecrow’ to frighten and dominate other nations in the region.”

Agence France Press, in a February 21 dispatch headlined “Ahmadinejad in new attack on ‘savage animal’ Israel,” covered the address and also noted that the Iranian president “has provoked international outrage by repeatedly predicting that Israel is doomed to disappear. He also courted more controversy by playing down the scale of the Holocaust.”

According to AFP, the Iranian president

defiantly vowed that Iran has no intention of ceding to the main demand of the U.N. Security Council that it suspends uranium enrichment operations ….

[W]orld powers should know the Iranian nation considers nuclear energy its undeniable and definite right and will not accept any imposition or any additional cruel rules.

The wire service noted that the

tirade came a week after the murder in a car bombing in Damascus of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hezbollah commander hailed by Iran as a great martyr who was killed by Israel. Israel had denied any involvement in his murder although it welcomed the death of Mughniyeh, who was on America’s most wanted list for a string of anti-Israeli and anti-Western attacks. The head of U.S. intelligence, Mike McConnell, has suggested that elements within Hezbollah and Syria could have been responsible.

The wire service said that, in referring to Mughniyeh, Ahmadinejad declared that

they [Israel] assassinate pure and pious people and then they celebrate it, like what happened to the son of Lebanon who had stood against the savage onslaught of the Zionists and broke the Zionists’ horns.

The Washington Post also covered the Iranian leader’s speech, in a February 21 article headlined “Iran Affirms Its Defiance On Nuclear Program; Ahmadinejad Restates Intent to Ignore U.N.” Post Foreign Service correspondent Thomas Erdbrink focused on the president’s victory claim:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Iran’s determination to continue its nuclear program had brought major powers “to their knees.”

The Post added “the United States and European countries say they fear Iran’s goal is to make nuclear weapons” and discussed a pending International Atomic Energy Agency report on the subject.

Noting his remarks about Mughniyeh and claim that “the Jewish state and its supporters ‘assassinated pure people,'” the Post termed Ahmadinejad “a frequent critic of Israel.”

In the Democratic presidential primaries, Sen. Hillary Clinton has been “a frequent critic” of Senator Barack Obama, and vice versa. On the Republican side, some party conservatives likewise have been “frequent critics” of Senator John McCain. But Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “a frequent critic” of Israel? Not only is such a minimization inaccurate, it’s a virtual whitewash.

Before Ahmadinejad was elected president in 2005, the Post downplayed and sometimes deleted altogether musings and threats from Iranian leaders about the destruction of Israel. Ahmadinejad’s bombast is not omitted completely; rather, it’s rendered as “criticism.” The 20th century furnished numerous examples of “criticism” of minorities and small nations as “dirty microbes” and “savage animals” ending as genocide, foremost among them the Holocaust. Yet when it comes to a Holocaust denier whose regime seeks nuclear bombs and his threats against the Jewish state, the Washington Post ignores history and, looking into the screen of Iranian state TV, blinks.

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