Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Iranian, in U.S., Denigrates Israel

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Iranian, in U.S., Denigrates Israel

Article excerpt

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the Israelis had been around the region for only 60 or 70 years, in contrast to the Iranians, whose civilization has existed for thousands of years.

Defying a warning by the U.N. secretary general against inflammatory remarks, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran said Monday that Israelis had no historical roots in the Middle East and that the existence of Israel was just a passing phase in the region's long history.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, who arrived in New York on Sunday for the annual General Assembly meeting, made the remarks in a breakfast session with selected members of the news media. He said the Israelis had been around the region for only 60 or 70 years, in contrast to the Iranians, whose civilization had existed for thousands of years.

"They have no roots there in history," Mr. Ahmadinejad said of the Israelis, according to Reuters. "They do not even enter the equation for Iran."

In a meeting with Iranian expatriates in New York on Sunday evening, Mr. Ahmadinejad belittled Israel's significance and the military threats Israel has made against his country over its disputed nuclear program. "A number of uncultured Zionists that threaten the Iranian nation today are never counted and are never paid any attention in the equations of the Iranian nation," he said, according to a summary of his remarks on his English-language Web site.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, known for incendiary language against Israel, is in the last nine months of his final term in office, and there had been widespread expectations that he would use his remaining appearance at the General Assembly to excoriate and provoke Iran's enemies, who suspect that Iran is developing the ability to make nuclear weapons. Iran has repeatedly denied that its nuclear energy program is for military use.

The secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who has repeatedly admonished Iranian leaders against making anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks, had a conversation with Mr. Ahmadinejad on Sunday to reiterate the warning that such language could cause "potentially harmful consequences," Mr. Ban's press office said in a statement.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's speech on Monday came during a one-day high- level conference on effecting universal standards of law. In his comments, he sounded many of the themes that have run through all his past appearances.

Without mentioning any country by name, he lashed out at the United States for ignoring Israel's nuclear arsenal while trying to shut down Iran's nuclear program. "Some members of the Security Council with veto rights have chosen silence with regard to the nuclear warheads of a fake regime, while at the same time they impede the scientific progress of other nations," he said.

He also indirectly attacked the United States and others for defending freedom of speech even when it defames religion, a reference to the online video attacking the Prophet Muhammad that incited demonstrations around the Muslim world, including Iran, over the past three weeks. …

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