For close to two years, the media has stubbornly
clung to a long discredited story about the Iranian president's alleged threat
to "destroy Israel" with nuclear weapons Iran doesn't have and denies
any intent to acquire. "Wiped off the map, wiped off the map," they
bleat incessantly, even though his actual words, "The Imam [Khomenei] said
this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,"
were paralleled with the fall of regimes like the Soviet Union and Iran's
former U.S.-installed monarchy (see this
for a thorough refutation of this claim). From the start of his presidency,
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rhapsodized regularly about the demise of the "Zionist
regime" in various metaphorical terms. He and his associates in the Iranian
government have compared its fate to that of the pharaohs of Egypt and the former
apartheid regime in South Africa (which they also did not recognize), but never
have they threatened to start a war with any country.
Yet the rumor persists. Top respected journalists, advocates for peace and
dialogue with Iran, and individual Iranians themselves bring up the misquote
regularly, as do noted Iranian-American scholars. The media's constant drumbeat
has even duped top world leaders into believing the myth. On Oct. 29, 2005,
the false quote was officially condemned by all 15 Security Council members
in a United Nations statement, following Israel's demand that the Security Council
expel Iran from the UN due to the remark.
The effect this misquote has had on American policy toward Iran is undeniable.
The majority of 2008 presidential candidates in both parties have repeatedly
mentioned the alleged threat in speeches and interviews, obviously influenced
by media reports.
And yet suddenly, after all this hoopla, at least two of the biggest media
titans, the BBC and the Associated Press, appear to be backing away from the
incorrect "wiped off the map" quotation they've been drilling into
people's minds for so long. It's happening quietly and undemonstratively, but
some recent subtle changes in their presentation indicate a tacit acknowledgment
of their previous misreporting.
The details of how this reversal came to be, their curious handling of the
subject in some of their recent news items, and contradictory arguments defending
their work are a story in themselves. Let's begin with the legendary British
The BBC's Adolescent Excuses
Formed in 1922, the BBC has a history of disinformation
campaigns against Iran. In the early 1950s, Iran's democratically elected prime
minister, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh,
had enraged Britain by nationalizing his country's British-dominated oil industry.
The BBC, which was funded by the Foreign Office (FCO), was directed by the government
to "destroy Persian confidence in the present policy of the Persian government,"
which they branded as "stupid and obstinate." The BBC's Persian Service
broadcasts in Iran reflected this to a tee, pumping out anti-nationalization
propaganda to the Iranian people regularly, which pleased the folks in Tehran's
British embassy immensely.
In the summer of 1953, at the request of the British government and in coordination
with the American CIA, the BBC broadcast a code word over its radio airwaves
to signal the young shah of the start of the coup which Britain and America
had plotted to overthrow Mossadegh. The BBC's role in the coup d'état
is confirmed by the CIA's own declassified documents and by the
BBC itself. Britain's use of the BBC as a state propaganda arm and extension
of the British Empire was not denied by the head of the BBC's Eastern Service,
Gordon Waterfield, who admitted at the time, "There is, on the whole, little
divergence between what the Foreign Office want us to do, and what in actual
fact, we are doing." London-based news agency Reuters was also not immune
from state influence. Their official biography states, "During both World
Wars, Reuters came under pressure from the British government to serve British
Misinformation continues to thrive in the information age of the 21st century.
In 2006, British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted on Sky TV his complete ignorance
of the British-American coup that caused Iran's young democracy to vanish from
the page of time, claiming that he had never even heard of Mossadegh. But in
a speech given the same year, Blair warned ominously, "Iran's president
has called for Israel to be – and I quote – 'wiped off the map.' And he's trying
to acquire a nuclear weapon." Yes, the most powerful man in Britain has
never even heard of the monumental 1953 coup – one of the most significant events
of the 20th century – which his own country helped carry out, yet a mistranslated
sound bite and an unproven suspicion about Iran's nuclear intentions, that he
With over 85 years of history, the BBC, which continues to receive funding
from the Foreign Office, cannot include juvenility among its reasons for getting
Ahmadinejad's words wrong. The BBC was just one of countless organizations which
jumped on the "wiped off the map" bandwagon in 2005. Yet mention of
the phrase largely disappeared from their reports in 2007. Then, in a June 8,
2007 article, the BBC finally published the following
"In October 2005, the Iranian president made a statement in which he
envisaged the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian state. This was widely
translated as a call for Israel to be 'wiped off the map.'
"While he has repeated similar comments many times, he has insisted
that Iran is not a threat to Israel."
The first statement referencing Palestinian statehood is an astonishing departure
from what has been consistently presented in the media as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's
"calls for the destruction of Israel." As for the "widely translated"
plea – this same phrase was reported ad nauseam by the BBC itself in its print,
radio, and television outlets. In essence, the BBC's rationale recollects that
typical adolescent excuse: but everybody was doing it!
In passing the blame to others, the BBC seems to indicate that it did no independent
verification, translation, or fact-checking with regard to the quote and merely
repeated what everyone else was saying. Yet three months earlier, a BBC journalist
made a claim that totally contradicts this version of events.
On March 6, 2007, BBC editor Peter Rippon wrote a blog
post on the BBC Web site, "Wiped off the Map?," which acknowledged
that although the BBC has regularly cited the quote, "others" have
argued that a "more accurate" translation would be "The Imam
said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time."
Rippon did not bother to mention who any of those "others" would be or acknowledge
his source for the alternate quote.
Moreover, Rippon claims to have looked into the matter and reports matter-of-factly
that the phrase "was picked up and translated from the Farsi" by BBC
Monitoring, and he even quotes unnamed "experts" at the service defending
their translation. Ah, but this story is completely negated by the BBC's own
original reports from October 2005, which clearly and unmistakably named Iran's
state media department, IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency), as the source of
For proof, see the following
passage, which occurred repeatedly in several BBC articles on Oct. 27 and
28, 2005, just after the Oct. 26 World Without Zionism conference where Ahmadinejad
first made his statement:
"He was addressing a conference entitled The World without Zionism
and his comments were reported by the Iranian state news agency Irna.
"'As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,' he said, referring
to Iran's late revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini."
BBC Monitoring is a government-funded subscription service founded in 1939,
with a staff of about 500 translating press and agency reports spanning a claimed
reach of over 150 countries in more than 100 languages. If, in fact they did
independently translate the quote as Rippon reports, then their contributions
appear to have been disregarded in the final analysis. British journalist Jonathan
Steele wrote about the mistranslation in his June
14, 2006 column in the Guardian ("Lost in Translation")
and reports querying a BBC Monitoring spokesperson (who, as in Rippon's piece,
spoke on the condition of anonymity), who said their original translation was
"eliminated from the map of the world." Upon further inspection, the
spokesperson said their Farsi translators were in a rush, and if they had to
do it all over again, would have gone with "eliminated from the pages of
To quote the anonymous spokesperson:
"The monitor has checked again. It's a difficult expression to translate.
They're under time pressure to produce a translation quickly and they were searching
for the right phrase. With more time to reflect they would say the translation
should be 'eliminated from the page of history.'"
Does this level of professionalism square with BBC Monitoring's own assessment
of its service and standards?
"Editors at BBC Monitoring possess specialized knowledge of countries
they cover … they translate reports in a way that preserves the tone of the
original, allowing subscribers to draw their own conclusions from what they
Rippon's piece also relates a relatively frivolous viewer complaint over BBC
One host Andrew Marr's presentation of the quote on Oct. 30, 2005. It seems
Marr referred to the phrase as "wiped off the face of the map" rather
than "wiped off the map," and this viewer objected to the change,
which he felt contained several false implications. What is noteworthy, however,
is the BBC Governors' Complaints Committee's careful
examination of the matter in their complaint review process (which ultimately
did not uphold the complaint), evaluated under the criteria of Accuracy, Impartiality,
In their explanation, the BBC states:
"The Committee carefully considered the wording of the translation
of the speech from a number of sources, including translations from BBC Monitoring
and from the Middle East Research Institute in Washington. The Committee also
reflected on how the speech had been translated in British newspapers and on
According to this explanation, having pondered over what other media were saying,
including some of their own British competitors, the BBC felt satisfied that
the quote was acceptable to run. The mention of al-Jazeera is also specious,
as they too relied on the same wrongly worded IRNA press item from which the
rest of the international media took the quote. Even the committee's reference
to BBC Monitoring is highly dubious, since, as previously mentioned, their own
reporting already credited IRNA with the quote.
Most curious of all, though, is the mention of the Middle East Research Institute
(MEMRI) as a major source. That's because MEMRI had an entirely different interpretation
of Ahmadinejad's words, bearing almost no similarity whatsoever to the BBC's
favored "wiped off the map" selection. MEMRI's
"Imam [Khomeini] said: 'This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem]
must be eliminated from the pages of history.'"
Note again the absence of words such as "Israel," "wipe out,"
and "map." MEMRI is no impartial body either – it's an organization
which focuses almost solely on translating and exposing examples of Islamic
fundamentalist propaganda, hate speech, and terrorist ideology in the Arab and
Iranian media. Founded by former Israeli Defense Force Col. Yigal Carmon, its
supporters include many figures from far right and pro-Israel media such as
The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, The National Post,
and Fox News channel. MEMRI's Web site lists glowing praise for its work from
people such as right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer, former CIA chief James
Woolsey, and Israeli political figure Natan Sharansky, who cites MEMRI's "invaluable
contribution to the struggle against anti-Semitism, hate, and racism."
So an outfit such as MEMRI, with a clear political agenda, has produced a far
less inflammatory version of the quote than the venerable British Broadcasting
The BBC implicates itself further by admitting that translations of foreign
languages are inherently fraught with inaccuracies:
"The Committee noted the inherent problem with accuracy in translations.
It noted that all the translations varied to a greater or lesser degree, and
it was difficult to decide which, if any, was the most accurate."
If the act of translation is such a delicate guessing game, then why trust
translations? According to the BBC's logic, journalists apparently have a license
to interpret foreign languages in a myriad of ways. With so many options on
the table, what's to stop a media outlet with a political bias from choosing
a preferred interpretation?
The BBC also rationalized:
"The Committee felt that the language used by the Iranian president
was highly emotive by its nature and had been recognized as such in the international
condemnation of what he had said."
Do these visceral, buck-passing comments sound consistent with the BBC's stated
"The BBC's commitment to accuracy is a core editorial value and fundamental
to our reputation. Our output must be well sourced, based on sound evidence,
thoroughly tested, and presented in clear, precise language. We should be honest
and open about what we don't know and avoid unfounded speculation."
How does the BBC achieve accuracy?
"We aim to achieve accuracy by:
the accurate gathering of material using first hand sources wherever
checking and cross checking the facts.
validating the authenticity of documentary evidence and digital material.
corroborating claims and allegations made by contributors wherever possible."
The bottom line: the BBC's various stories do not check out. Their initial
reports cite IRNA as the source of the quote, later documents list a hodgepodge
of sources and rationalizations, and they later reported that the entire quote
was translated "directly from the Farsi" by BBC Monitoring. Finally,
a June 2007 article seems to assign responsibility to others, saying that the
quote was "widely translated as a call for Israel to be wiped off the map,"
making no mention of their own alleged hand in the translation process or the
responsibility incumbent upon them to verify its accuracy.
Reuters: Deny, Deny, Deny
A global news juggernaut, Reuters has been in
existence since the mid-1800s and bills itself as "the largest international
multimedia news agency." Though Reuters has stuck to its guns on the map
quote, they are well aware of the controversy surrounding it. In January 2007,
they responded to reader
concern about their story "Iran President Says Israel's Days Are Numbered,"
which repeated the map rumor and also contained the misquote, "Just as the Soviet
Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon
be wiped out." The reader wrote:
"You continue to report that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has
called for Israel to be 'wiped off the map' even though many Mideast experts
have stated that the interpretation of what Ahmadinejad actually said was that
the 'Zionist regime will not last.'
"In other words, rather than calling for ethnic cleansing, as your
news stories imply, Iranian officials are calling for regime change – a common
enough phrase these days. Are your reporters and editors deliberately misinforming
the public? - Jan"
"We actually had access to this speech, and heard the president's words
verbatim from our own TV footage. We stand behind our translation. In this case,
he used the word 'mahv,' which in Farsi means 'wiped off.' - Editor"
Reuters' response skips over the reader's major point – that regime change,
not genocide, was the true message – and ignores the crucial context of Ahmadinejad's
words as they related to the other faded regimes, including Iran's previous
ruler, the shah.
Reuters again responded to a reader's
complaint on the matter on June 14, 2007:
"President Ahmadinejad never said any such thing. That 'quote' is a
complete fabrication. It's an urban myth. What he REALLY said is 'The regime
occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.'
"You'll note that there is an enormous difference between an active
threat 'to wipe something of the map' and a passive comment that 'something
must vanish from the page of time.' You will also note that the Farsi word for
map, 'nagsheh,' appears nowhere in the speech text.
"I would think that if a multi-million dollar organization such as
Reuters News Service is going to continue agitating for an American attack on
Iran it could afford to spend two or three hundred dollars to have Ahmadinejad's
speeches professionally translated into English. - Mark K."
"Thanks for your interest in this matter. Reuters is confident that
its translation of what Ahmadinejad said is correct. We watched the original
speech in 2005 and have not altered our rendering into English since. The Iranian
authorities have never challenged our translation of the words, which echoed
those of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, when
he spoke on the same issue. - GBU Editor"
Like the BBC, Reuters has just publicly stated that they translated the quote
by themselves, on their own. And, as with the BBC, this far-fetched story can
easily be disproved. In their very first reports in 2005, Reuters clearly identified
IRNA as the source of the quote in the opening sentence!
For proof, see these Oct.
26, 2005, and Oct.
27th, 2005, Reuters news items:
"TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday
that Israel should be 'wiped off the map,' the official IRNA news agency reported."
Contrary to Reuters' claims, Iranian officials and Foreign Ministry office
have refuted the quote's interpretation numerous times. Reuters itself
has reported on this.  Take, for example, Reuters' own
article from Feb.
20, 2006, "Iran Denies Wanting to 'Wipe Israel Off the Map.'"
In this piece, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki directly refutes the
quote in English, acknowledges the reality of the Holocaust, and reiterates
that Iran's nuclear program is purely peaceful.
"'Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding
in Europe of what our president mentioned,' Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference,
speaking in English, after addressing the European Parliament.
"'How is it possible to remove a country from the map? He is talking
about the regime. We do not recognize legally this regime,' he said."
Not only that, the February 2006 article again cites IRNA as the source of
the infamous quote, which contradicts their repeated claim that the translation
was their own. As Reuters noted: "Ahmadinejad caused a storm of
condemnation last October after Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted him
as telling a conference: 'Israel must be wiped off the map.'"
Reuters must have overlooked the April 2006 CNN interview with Iran's ambassador
to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, where he said,
"Iran … will not threaten any country, and we want peace in the Middle
East and the whole world … but if you are going to conclude that we have said
the people there [In Israel] have to be removed or they have to be massacred
… this is [a] fabricated, unfortunate, selective approach to what the mentality
and policy of Islamic Republic of Iran is. I have to correct, and I did so."
Perhaps Reuters also missed Ahmadinejad's Feb. 13, 2007, ABC News interview
with Diane Sawyer in which he responds to the "map" charge: "What
happened to the former Soviet Union? It disappeared, disappeared from the face
of the Earth. Was it because of war? No, it was through the decision of the
people, and what we say is quite clear."  There are
many other examples.
Reuters may claim plausible deniability, but they already had early warning
of the issue long before these complaints and rebuttals. After helping organize
a workshop in Beirut in December 2005 that brought together six American and
six Middle Eastern journalists, Reuters republished a St. Louis Dispatch
article about the event by participant Jon Sawyer. The piece quoted another
participant, Tehran Daily's Khosrow Soltani Kasseb, who explained
his take on Iran's recent "map" outrage:
"For the journalists at the Beirut workshop, there was a lesson a few days
after they headed home in how words can inflame – and confuse.
"The only thing missing, said Iranian journalist Soltani, was any acknowledgment
that Ahmadinejad's remarks were neither new nor, in the Iranian context, incendiary
– not in a country where 'Death to Israel' chants have been a staple of Friday
prayers since the era of Ayatollah Khomeini two decades ago.
"'These slogans remain slogans and nothing more,' Soltani told fellow journalists
in an e-mail. 'Let's not forget the occasion in which Ahmadinejad said those
things,' he added, 'a conference dubbed "The World Without Zionism."
What else did you expect him to say? Viva Israel?'
"'What is certain is that no one here (I mean the officials) has any intention
of wiping out a state by killing its people!' Soltani said. 'They just wish
Israel did not exist or would somehow perish for the cause of Palestine.'"
So Reuters has had plenty of opportunities to rectify the error, yet have chosen
not to do so. According to Reuters' editorial policy, "We are committed
to accurate and balanced reporting. Errors of fact are always promptly corrected
and clearly published." Further:
"We are committed to reporting the facts and in all situations avoid
the use of emotive terms . … We aim to report objectively actions, identity,
and background and pay particular attention to all our coverage in extremely
"We do not take sides and attempt to reflect … the views of all sides.
We are not in the business of glorifying one side or another or of disseminating
propaganda. Reuters journalists do not offer their own opinions or views.
"The world relies on Reuters journalists to provide accurate, clearly
sourced accounts of events as they occur, wherever they occur, so that individuals,
organizations, and governments can make their own decisions based on the facts."
Reuters also adds that they do pay attention to feedback, and in fact, "we
often spot and correct errors faster with the help of sharp-eyed readers. Other
e-mails have made us question and sometimes change the way we describe people,
countries, concepts, and controversies." Yet to date, despite reader complaints,
media articles to the contrary, and its own blatantly contradictory explanations,
Reuters is still standing by its story, which it is "confident" is
The Associated Press and Those Imaginary "Supporters"
Along with Reuters, there may be no other source
that has exploited this misquote more relentlessly than the Associated Press,
which calls itself "the largest and oldest news organization in the world."
The misquote has infected hundreds of AP articles since 2005 and is almost certainly
one of the most frequently repeated quotes attributed to any individual in their
history of reporting. Since October 2005, the AP has hammered this fake quote
into the consciousness of millions of people around the world, and it continues
to do so. But in May 2007, a change occurred. Whereas before the AP's quote
always read, "Israel must be wiped off the map," as of May 24, a new
version has begun appearing in some of their articles:
"[The] Zionist regime should be wiped off the map."
"Israel" has now magically transformed into the "Zionist regime,"
i.e., the government. "Must" has become "should." The distinction
is enormous. If Ahmadinejad was referring to the regime, then it cannot be claimed
that he has made "genocidal" threats to physically and militarily
"destroy Israel." This new interpretation is further validation for
those who have disputed the quote's accuracy.
Here is the AP's new "Zionist regime" version in its context. On
24, AP introduced the following block of text in some articles. The entire
"In October 2005, he raised outrage in the West when he said in a speech
that Israel's 'Zionist regime should be wiped off the map.'
"His supporters and some independent analysts have since argued Ahmadinejad's
words were mistranslated from Farsi and should have been better translated as
'vanish from the pages of time' – implying Israel would vanish on its own rather
Beginning June 3, AP articles reusing the stock text were suddenly missing
the words "independent analysts" and "from Farsi":
"His supporters have argued Ahmadinejad's words were mistranslated
and should have been better translated as 'vanish from the pages of time' –
implying Israel would vanish on its own rather be destroyed."
While AP's acknowledgment of those who have disputed the quote is a victory,
the gratuitous and misleading inclusion of the phrase "his supporters"
sabotages the clarification – readers are less likely to take the claim seriously
if they believe that Ahmadinejad's fans dispute it. The unnecessary removal
of the "independent analysts" phrase in subsequent reports is additionally
In May 2006, University of Michigan professor Juan Cole, an expert on Middle
Eastern affairs, squarely refuted the quote on his
blog, where, by the way, he denounced the Islamic Republic, saying, "
I personally despise everything Ahmadinejad stands for, not to mention the odious
Khomeini, who had personal friends of mine killed so thoroughly that we have
never recovered their bodies." In June 2006, veteran journalist Jonathan
Steele took Cole's correct translation as his lead and examined the controversy
further in his own column in the Guardian. There is nothing to suggest
that Steele supports Ahmadinejad.
As the rumor rampaged on despite the new analysis and protests, I recognized
the need for a critical mass to influence the discourse. In January 2007, I
wrote a comprehensive examination of the quote and its context in Ahmadinejad's
speech. The piece has become something of a phenomenon. To date, the "Rumor
of the Century" article has traveled the world and been translated
into languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Slovak, and Swedish.
In Thailand, the Bangkok Post featured
an entire column about it. Numerous writers, academics, and authors quote and
reference it. Newspapers have printed letters to the editor that quote from
it, and others have created YouTube videos
inspired by it. I have discussed it on American and Canadian radio programs,
and it was recently selected for an award and inclusion in a forthcoming book.
Since the map quote was first called into question at least a year earlier,
and these revisions were only made after my January 2007 article was released,
I believe that I'm one of the people being referenced here. If the AP is attempting
to include my article as a defense of Ahmadinejad, then they have conveniently
overlooked my association with the Mossadegh Project and condemnation of his
"backwards regime." There is no comparison whatsoever between the
benevolent, secular democracy of Dr. Mossadegh and the Islamic Republic's oppressive,
fundamentalist dictatorship, which has always openly despised him. Since none
of the prominent media critiques are pro-Ahmadinejad, just who are these "supporters"
to whom the AP refers?
House of Representatives Charges Iran with Inciting 'Genocide'
Two years after Ahmadinejad's speech, the quote
is still causing a stir. On June 20, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives
overwhelmingly passed a resolution
calling on the UN to charge Ahmadinejad with the crime of inciting genocide
"because of his calls for the destruction of the State of Israel"
– specifically citing the erroneous "wiped off the map" statement.
(Somehow the person whom Ahmadinejad was quoting, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,
seems to have averted all international condemnation and censure over the statement
in the 1980s).
In his June 18 testimony before the House, the resolution's co-sponsor, Congressman
Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) referred to Ahmadinejad as a "lunatic" five
times and a "madman" twice, compared him to Hitler, and falsely accused
Iran of openly admitting to a nuclear weapons program with the purpose
of destroying Israel. Said Rothman:
"Here we have the president of a sovereign nation … who says that a
fellow nation … should be wiped off the face of the Earth, the people killed.
… Lest one think that Mr. Ahmadinejad, a twisted, backward, lunatic, be some
non-threatening individual crazy man who happens to talk about the death of
millions of innocent people, this is the head of a nation, a sovereign nation
with oil wealth and an army and with a stated goal of acquiring nuclear weapons
to use to carry out his homicidal, genocidal, lunatic delusions of wiping out
the State of Israel."
The only congressmen who voted against the resolution were Ron Paul (R-Texas)
and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), both of whom recognized H. Con. Res. 21 as a pretext
to lay the groundwork for war. Paul called it "an exercise in propaganda
that serves one purpose: to move us closer to initiating a war against Iran,"
and he questioned how the U.S. could not consider its own threats of a possible
nuclear attack on Iran as an incitement to genocide itself. "Does anyone
believe that dropping nuclear weapons on Iran will not wipe a people off the
map?" he asked.
Congressman Kucinich has said the resolution "sets a dangerous precedent
in foreign affairs. A mistranslation could become a cause of war. The United
States House may unwittingly be setting the stage for a war with Iran."
He repeatedly raised questions about the accuracy of the words being condemned.
"There is reasonable doubt with regard to the accuracy of the translations
of President Ahmadinejad's words in this resolution," he said in a subsequent
press release. "President Ahmadinejad's speeches can also be translated
as a call for regime change, much in the same manner the Bush administration
has called for regime change in Iraq and Iran, making this resolution very ironic."
Kucinich's attempts during his June 18 testimony to insert four other alternate
translations into the Congressional Record (including my own article,
parts of which he read into the official record) were formally blocked by House
members.  None of Kucinich's suggested texts were taken
seriously by the resolution's supporters, who continuously interrupted his testimony.
"When I learned of these translations, I felt obligated to bring it to
the attention of the House," Kucinich said in a press statement. "It
seems that much has been lost in translation. Members have a right to know of
the translations, and the refusal to permit them to become a part of the Congressional
Record does a disservice to members."
In his testimony, Kucinich quoted from significantly different translations
from MEMRI and the New York Times' Tehran bureau. The members remained
unimpressed, and the suggested documents were dismissed without any logical
explanation. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who has publicly called
for the illegal assassination of Fidel Castro (which she denied and later admitted
to), gave the baffling reasoning, "I would hate to have Ahmadinejad's statements
be included as a part of the record in this part of the debate where we are
saying that he is a despot." In other words, she and her colleagues, like
countless others, have already made up their mind.
The Truth – War's First Casualty
The U.S. war against Iraq has caused enormous
tragedy for both countries, with hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost
on the basis of a flawed narrative. Clarifying the narrative vis-à-vis
Iran has nothing to do with supporting a particular regime. It's about truth,
accountability, and preventing yet another conflict that is in nobody's interest.
As Congressman Kucinich cautioned regarding the mistranslation, "We must
make every effort to ascertain the truth, because peace in the world may hang
in the balance."
1. Reuters reports:
March 4, 2007:
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fueled fears … by urging
that the Jewish state be 'wiped off the map,' though Tehran officials said this
did not constitute a threat."
June 4, 2007:
"He has often referred to the demise of the Jewish state but says Iran
does not pose a threat to it."
June 8, 2007:
"He has often referred to the destruction of the Jewish state but says
Iran is not a threat."
2. CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer, April 2, 2006.
from an interview with Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh:
"[T]hese are fabricated news that they are … using … as an excuse for
the military aggression or the aggressive policy."
"[T]he policy of Islamic Republic of Iran … is against any sort of
school of thought or regime such as apartheid, Zionism, racism, and this is
a matter of principle. Therefore, what you are talking about as apartheid was
disappeared and it could not be accepted by civilized world, this Zionism and
aggression of racism is also condemned. That is the message, and I'm sure that
we are – this message is shared with all the international community and peace-loving
people of the whole world."
"And I assure the whole world that Iran is for peaceful activities
and will try to continue it, and we spare no effort to assure that these activities
will be peaceful and will not threaten any country, and we want peace in the
Middle East and the whole world."
"[B]ut if you are going to conclude that we have said the people there
have to be removed or they have to be massacred … this is [a] fabricated, unfortunate,
selective approach to what the mentality and policy of Islamic Republic of Iran
is. I have to correct, and I did so."
3. ABC News, Good Morning America, Feb. 13, 2007.
Quotations from Diane Sawyer interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (1,
"We shy away from any kind of conflict and any kind of bloodshed, and
we will be sad by such. We are opposed to any kind of conflict and as we have
said repeatedly we think the world problem can be solved through dialogue, the
use of logic and a sense of friendship. There is no need for the use of force."
"And what we have said about Palestine, it's quite clear, based on
the charter of the UN, based on international regulations, we say let Palestinians
decide. … Please allow the Palestinians to decide. Please respect their decision.
But please give them the opportunity for decision-making."
"We believe that in Palestine, there should be a referendum and Palestinians,
Muslims, Jews, any Palestinians, and this is based on international regulations,
and I think it's their right to determine their future. Any decision made by
Palestinians must be respected, and I think this is a very clear proposition."
"Why are people opposed, what we say is clear. If you continue massacring
innocent people, if you continue to make them refugees, and if you continue
attacking neighboring countries, then the countries and the people of those
countries, regions … get angry, because the Zionist regime was imposed upon
"We are opposed to any proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
and nuclear weapons. We believe that the time is now over for nuclear weapons.
It is a time for logic, for rationality, and for civilization. Instead of thinking
of finding new weapons, we are trying to find new ways to love people. And if
talking about the 'Death to America' slogans, I think you know it yourself,
it is not related in any way to American public. Our people have no problem
with American public, and we have a very friendly relationship."
4. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, June 18, 2007:
"At this time, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask unanimous consent to
include a New York Times translation of the text of President Ahmadinejad's
speech, a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute of his speech,
articles relating to an analysis of the speech, and the words that were used
by Virginia Tilley of Johannesburg, South Africa, and by Arash Norouzi written
on the 18th of January 2007."