Boy this is a hard topic to discuss without feeling like you're inadvertently supporting one side or the other.
I'll just preface this by saying this is a topic that has interested me for many years, but especially in light of 9/11, etc. I do not pretend to be any kind of expert on this (who could?)
Source? (other than Fox News, of course)
I was all set to say "how could you have missed all these news quotations saying the he wants to blow up Israel?!?!" But after doing some digging: It turns out that this is the first time I've heard anyone make a genuine distinction between what CNN / FOX / etc. keep quoting and what was actually translated from his original speech:
Our dear Imam (referring to Ayatollah Khomeini) said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world.
Source: http://wapedia.mobi/en/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel (Oct. 26, 2005)
Now: I am not supporting this guy (I can't overstate this), nor am I in support of Iran's totalitarian government, but it does appear that the press seem to have reinterpreted his speeches in words that will rile up Western populations.
His argument seems to be a common one from that region:
- Israel is a state and government which he and many others do not recognize, but which Western governments do.
- Israel as a state was created by Western governments following WWII and placed in what used to be known as Palestine, thus his (and many others) continuous reference to "occupied Palestine."
- He considers the state to be a fiction, and wants the Islamic world to work together to remove that state from the region, essentially returning it to the Palestinians.
I could only find this translation regarding his statements about the Holocaust:
The illegitimate Zionist regime is an outcome of the Holocaust... a political and power-seeking network claimed to be the advocate for one group of the victims, and sought reparations for their blood. [This network] ruled that the survivors of this particular group of victims must receive compensation - and part of this compensation was to establish the Zionist regime in the land of Palestine. On this pretext, they attacked Palestine and, after massacring the [indigenous] people and driving them from their homes, they occupied their homeland and created the Zionist regime - in order to ensure that no regional power would emerge in the Islamic lands except for the West, [because] Islamic civilization and culture have the dynamic potential to threaten their interests, which were based on oppression and thirst for power. These principles and philosophy comprise the Zionist regime.
So again: I don't see in that quote that he's "denying" the holocaust. (And yes: I know it's out of context, and it's from Wikipedia) He's saying that an "outcome of the Holocaust" was that they made these claims for reparation and compensation, and that they achieved this (the creation of Israel within Palestinian land) via less-than-acceptable means.
The fact that you clarified this particular oft-misquoted statement made me wonder what the precise text was. It's a bit difficult to find complete transcripts. (But I'll keep looking.)
Iran as a nation is still being ridiculous regarding how it communicates its nuclear intentions. "We don't have any nuclear arms. We're just firing these brand new shiny missiles -- just cuz!" That is far scarier than a predominantly Western misinterpretation of his statements.
I should read more about this. I just don't know where to begin (besides numerous references to Wikipedia, which is dubious in some cases.)