Editorial: Fanaticism from Iran and support for Israel

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There was no reason to be surprised by last week’s hideous speech from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After all, this is a man determined to take his country deeper into Muslim fanaticism.

And yet, even in a post-9/11 world, his open call for Israel’s eradication left us stunned.

Speaking in Tehran at a charming event called the “World Without Zionism” conference, Ahmadinejad said: “Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? You had best know that this surely can be achieved. Very soon, this stain of disgrace [Israel] will vanish from … the Islamic world.”

This was not some terrorist hiding in a cave or some nameless imam breathing fire from a backwater mosque. This was the elected leader of a nation of 68 million people, a nation bent on acquiring long-range nuclear weapons.

Needless to say, we condemn his comments in the strongest possible terms. In the time it took to deliver his speech, Ahmadinejad aligned himself with pariahs such as North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Syria’s Bashar Assad.

That the president of Iran hates Israel is nothing new. But the international revulsion in response to his words is worth noting.

The Russian foreign minister called his words “unacceptable.”

French president Jacques Chirac said, “I was profoundly shocked by the statements … which are totally senseless and irresponsible.” His foreign minister added, “The right for Israel to exist should not be contested.”

The German government statement read in part: “Israel’s right to exist is sacrosanct.

Even Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erakat weighed in, saying, “We have recognized the state of Israel … We do not accept the statements of the president of Iran.”

That’s a strong collective rebuke of Iran, though any other response from the community of nations would be inconceivable.

Such unqualified support for the Jewish state is heartening, but the world should remember Israel won’t stand idly by while dangerous enemies make existential threats.

In 1981, Israel took preemptive action by bombing Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility. While Iran’s nuclear weapons program remains underground, both literally and figuratively, Israel will not rule out similar action, nor should it. Like any sovereign nation under threat, Israel will do what it must to ensure security.

Judging from his remarks, Ahmadinejad is evil or stupid, or both. He’s not the first Haman type we Jews have had to face, and he will go the way of the rest, into the dustbin of history.

But until then, we can be sure Israel has its eye on him.