Iran’s president gave a lengthy interview to Der Spiegel. (HT: K-Lo at The Corner.) People have to pay attention to President Ahmadinejad’s statements before urging talks or no talks with Iran. I support talks with Iran on the need to accept the legitimacy of Israel and to stop denying the Holocaust. Some excerpts:
SPIEGEL: First you make your remarks about the Holocaust. Then comes the news that you may travel to Germany — this causes an uproar. So you were surprised after all?
Ahmadinejad: No, not at all, because the network of Zionism is very active around the world, in Europe too. So I wasn’t surprised. We were addressing the German people. We have nothing to do with Zionists.
SPIEGEL: Denying the Holocaust is punishable in Germany. Are you indifferent when confronted with so much outrage?
Ahmadinejad: I know that DER SPIEGEL is a respected magazine. But I don’t know whether it is possible for you to publish the truth about the Holocaust. Are you permitted to write everything about it?
SPIEGEL: Of course we are entitled to write about the findings of the past 60 years’ historical research. In our view there is no doubt that the Germans — unfortunately — bear the guilt for the murder of 6 million Jews.
Ahmadinejad: Well, then we have stirred up a very concrete discussion. We are posing two very clear questions. The first is: Did the Holocaust actually take place? You answer this question in the affirmative. So, the second question is: Whose fault was it? The answer to that has to be found in Europe and not in Palestine. It is perfectly clear: If the Holocaust took place in Europe, one also has to find the answer to it in Europe.
On the other hand, if the Holocaust didn’t take place, why then did this regime of occupation …
SPIEGEL: … You mean the state of Israel…
Ahmadinejad: … come about? Why do the European countries commit themselves to defending this regime? Permit me to make one more point. We are of the opinion that, if an historical occurrence conforms to the truth, this truth will be revealed all the more clearly if there is more research into it and more discussion about it.
SPIEGEL: That has long since happened in Germany.
Ahmadinejad: We don’t want to confirm or deny the Holocaust. We oppose every type of crime against any people. But we want to know whether this crime actually took place or not. If it did, then those who bear the responsibility for it have to be punished, and not the Palestinians. Why isn’t research into a deed that occurred 60 years ago permitted? After all, other historical occurrences, some of which lie several thousand years in the past, are open to research, and even the governments support this.
Ahmadinejad: Where did the Israelis come from?
SPIEGEL: Well, if we tried to work out where people have come from, the Europeans would have to return to east Africa where all humans originated.
Ahmadinejad: We’re not talking about the Europeans; we’re talking about the Palestinians. The Palestinians were there, in Palestine. Now 5 million of them have become refugees. Don’t they have a right to live?
SPIEGEL: Mr. President, doesn’t there come a time when one should accept that the world is the way it is and that we must accept the status quo? The war against Iraq has put Iran in a favorable position. The United States has suffered a de facto defeat in Iraq. Isn’t it now time for Iran to become a constructive power of peace in the Middle East? Which would mean giving up its nuclear plans and inflammatory talk?
Ahmadinejad: I’m wondering why you’re adopting and fanatically defending the stance of the European politicians. You’re a magazine, not a government. Saying that we should accept the world as it is would mean that the winners of World War II would remain the victorious powers for another 1,000 years and that the German people would be humiliated for another 1,000 years. Do you think that is the correct logic?
And he expands on his letter to President Bush:
SPIEGEL: Is your letter to the president also a gesture toward the Americans that you wish to enter into direct negotiations?
Ahmadinejad: We clearly stated our position in this letter on how we view the problems in the world. Some powers have befouled the political atmosphere in the world because they consider lies and fraud to be legitimate. In our view that is very bad. We believe that all people deserve respect. Relationships have to be regulated on the basis of justice. When justice reigns, peace reigns. Unjust conditions aren’t sustainable, even if Ahmadinejad does not criticize them.
SPIEGEL: This letter to the American president includes a passage about Sept. 11, 2001. The quote: “How could such an operation be planned and implemented without the coordination with secret and security services or without the far-reaching infiltration of these services?” Your statements always include so many innuendos. What is that supposed to mean? Did the CIA help Mohammed Atta and the other 18 terrorists conduct their attacks?
Ahmadinejad: No, that’s not what I meant. We think that they should just say who is to blame. They should not use Sept. 11 as an excuse to launch a military attack against the Middle East. They should take those who are responsible for the attacks to court. We’re not opposed to that; we condemned the attacks. We condemn any attack against innocent people.
SPIEGEL: In this letter you also write that Western liberalism has failed. What makes you say that?
Ahmadinejad: You see, for example you have a thousand definitions of the Palestian problem and you offer all sorts of different definitions of democracy in its various forms. It does not make sense that a phenomenon depends on the opinions of many individuals who are free to interpret the phenomenon as they wish. You can’t solve the problems of the world that way. We need a new approach. Of course we want the free will of the people to reign, but we need sustainable principles that enjoy universal acceptance – such as justice. Iran and the West agree on this.