Wash. post defends Iran against Netanyahu's nuke warnings
As Benjamin Netanyahu prepares for his meeting with President Obama at the White House next Monday, the Washington Post runs an article by Jerusalem correspondent Joel Greenberg about the prime minister's repeated warnings that Iran is determined to acquire nuclear weapons and eliminate the Jewish state. ("Netanyahu sharpens his message of action on Iran - Israeli leader weighs options as he prepares for visit to U.S." page A12, March 1).
Calls by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the "dissolution of Israel, his denial of the Holocaust and his support of militant groups sworn to Israel's destruction have led Netanyahu to depict him as another Hitler," Greenberg writes. And he quotes Netanyahu as telling the Knesset on Holocaust Remembrance Day that "another genocide" could be in the offing if the world remains silent.
Greenberg, however, buys none of this. As far as he's concerned, Netanyahu's warnings are way over the top and there's no genocidal threat from Iran. Here's how Greenberg sets out to refute Netanyahu:
"Iran scholars have disputed Netanyahu's characterization of the Iranian threat, saying Ahmadinejad was misquoted in threatening to 'wipe Israel off the map.' They say that Tehran's aim is actually the collapse of the Israeli government and its replacement by Palestinian rule, rather than a new genocide against the Israeli people. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly stressed this point, although he also has made clear that he is implacably opposed to Zionism and the existence of the Israeli state."
So there you have Greenberg's benign view of Iran and its intentions. The world can heave a sigh of relief and shrug off Netanyahu's dire forecasts. Because make no mistake, this is Greenberg - not some unidentified "Iran scholars" - who's making light of Iranian threats and knocking down Netanyahu's warnings.
In a similar vein, Greenberg cites U.S. military and intelligence officials, again unidentified, as denying that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.
However, notably missing from Greenberg's piece is the recent warning by the International Atomic Energy Agency - the UN's nuclear watchdog - that there is growing evidence that Iran may be on a course to acquire a nuclear-weapons capability. Unlike Greenberg's sources, the IAEA does not hide its identity.
As for an existential threat emanating from a nuclear Iran -- poopoohed by Greenber -- it's worth recalling the words of former Iranian President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani at an "International Jerusalem Day" rally in Tehran in 2003 - a historic speech Greenberg omits from his piece. Here's Rafsanjani on the record when he was the No. 2 man in the Iranian hierarachy
"The application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel, but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world. Jews shall expect to be once again scattered and wandering around the globe the day when this appendix is extracted from the region and the Muslim world."
None of this worrisome evidence registers with Greenberg, who's determined to take Netanyahu down a couple of pegs ahead of his summit encounter with Obama.
Brushing aside the prime minister's concern about a nuclear Iran, Greenberg ends his article with a quote from Aluf Benn, the editor of Israel's ultra-left newspaper Haaretz, that Netanyahu's real intention all along has been to use his warnings of a nuclear Iran to divert attention from settlements in the West Bank and shift the world's attention from the peace process with the Palestinians to Tehran's nuclear objectives.
When a Western reporter quotes Haaretz, it's a safe bet he's pursuing an anti-Israel agenda - in this case to poison the upcoming Obama-Netanyahu summit.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers