- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Not since the days of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich has a head of state spoken as openly about the destruction of Jewish people and his contempt for the Western democracies and international law as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On Saturday, as Mr. Ahmadinejad prepared to fly to New York and address the U.N. Security Council, he once again displayed his “peaceful” intentions at a military rally in Tehran. The Iranian government put on display for the first time a new long-range missile called the Ghadr-1 (Power-1), which it said had a range of more than 1,100 miles — enough to put in range, Israel, the nation Mr. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly vowed to destroy, as well as hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and other Americans working in the region. At the parade, there were banners and slogans such as “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”; “Israel should be eliminated”; and “Israel has to be wiped off the map.” Thousands of goose-stepping members of the Iranian army and the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps paraded by and saluted Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iranian military leaders reviewing the parade. To make sure that no one missed his message, Mr. Ahmadinejad vowed that neither sanctions nor military action could stop Iran’s nuclear program from going forward.

Mr. Ahmadinejad (whose government is, according to the State Department, one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terror) was rebuffed in his attempt to visit “Ground Zero,” where the World Trade Center towers were destroyed on September 11. That decision was certainly appropriate. While a New York City Police Department spokesman tersely cited “security reasons” for rebuffing Mr. Ahmadinejad, the real reason why he is being kept away is the eminently justified moral outrage of the American public. To permit a man whose government funnels hundreds of millions of dollars annually to Hezbollah and Hamas, who is providing weapons to Iraqi Shi’ite militias and Sunni insurgents that are being used to kill and maim American soldiers; who has given refuge to al Qaeda terrorists; and who is funneling weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan to visit Ground Zero would be an obscenity. This would be spitting on the graves of thousands of innocents murdered six years ago by the jihadists who are Mr. Ahmadinejad’s ideological soulmates.

The Iranian leader, who is behind the killing of American GIs in Iraq, is scheduled to speak today at Columbia University, where, incidentally, the ROTC is banned from recruiting because the military won’t admit avowed homosexuals. Columbia Dean John Coatsworth defended the university’s decision to enable Mr. Ahmadinejad to use the school as a prop. It’s an honor he would have accorded Hitler. “If Hitler were willing to engage in a debate and a discussion, to be challenged by Columbia students and faculty, we would certainly invite him.” The idea that there would be something useful to gain from engaging Hitler in a dialogue about the “Final Solution” or the “Jewish Problem” strikes us as idiotic; we expect that Mr. Ahmadinejad will parry any difficult questions and go on to make his propaganda points about the evils of President Bush and “Zionists.” But in the event that anyone at Columbia seriously decides to challenge him, it would be nice to ask him things like: Why have you called the Holocaust a “myth” and a “sheer historic lie?” Why did you invite “scholars” like former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke to Iran last year for a Holocaust-denial conference? A senior adviser to you and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has talked about a strategy for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization “by means of our suicide operations or by means of missiles.” Is this part of your government’s message of “peace?”

Perhaps the one redeeming aspect of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s visit is that all of the major presidential candidates — including Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and leading Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and John McCain — were in agreement that the visit to Ground Zero was wrong (but Mrs. Clinton, appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” ducked a question about Mr. Ahmadinejad speaking at Columbia University). However, there are deep differences when it comes to the usefulness of direct talks with Tehran: The Republicans are decidedly skeptical, while the Democrats favor negotiations. Yet it is difficult to see how the United States would benefit from having a “dialogue” with a jihadist despot who denies the Holocaust and is arming to the teeth.

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