By David Harris, American Jewish Committee executive director
Dear Razia Iqbal,
I was in my car this morning and listening to BBC Newshour, carried by our local National Public Radio station in New York.
You were the host of the hour-long program, and the principal subject was the major deal announced, after years of negotiations, between the P5+1 and Iran.
One of your guests was Danny Danon, Israel’s Minister of Science, Technology and Space. To my astonishment, you said the following to him, referring to Israel:
“But you’re not under threat by Iran. Nobody in Iran has threatened you for a very long time. You’re harking back to a time when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened Israel directly.”
Fortunately, I managed to maintain control of my car, but only barely. More impressively still, Minister Danon did not lose his cool, though he had every right to do so.
I’m not new to media comments that go over the top, especially when it happens on the BBC in regard to Israel-related matters. Much has already been written on the topic and it’s not for me to rehash it here.
But your words were ill-informed at best, malicious at worst.
Did they reflect your view alone, or that of your employer as well?
Either way, do you truly believe that Iran poses no threat to Israel today, but rather that this was only the case during the presidency of Ahmadinejad?
If so, with respect, you’re flat-out wrong.
The threat to Israel from the Iranian government goes far beyond the menacing rhetoric of Ahmadinejad. Indeed, it both preceded and outlived him.
This is what Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s top leader, has said on the subject: “This barbaric, wolf-like and infanticidal regime of Israel, which spares no crime, has no cure but to be annihilated.”
And here’s another memorable quote from the Supreme Leader: [Israel is a] “cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut.”
What am I missing about his blood-curdling thoughts on Israel?
And consider these unambiguous words from General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the all-powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps: “The Zionists should prepare themselves for our shattering thunderbolt. They have experienced our rage in the past.”
No wonder U.S. President Barack Obama, in announcing the breakthrough with Iran today, said it’s high time for Tehran to stop seeking Israel’s destruction.
He wasn’t reacting to what Ahmadinejad said years ago, but to the present reality. Meanwhile, Iran’s well-armed and well-funded proxies in the region, Hezbollah and Hamas, make no secret of their own aim of eradicating Israel.
The Hamas Charter doesn’t mince words: “Israel will exist, and will continue to exist, until Islam abolishes it…”
Not to be outdone, Hezbollah’s long-time leader, Hassan Nasrallah, declared: “If Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”
Dear Ms. Iqbal, if Minister Danon and other Israeli leaders voice concern about Iran, it is not because they enjoy playing the role of spoiler.
Rather, it is because history has taught them to take seriously those who threaten Jewish existence.
The Iranian regime, as a matter of the convergence of ideology and theology, does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, and champions those in the region who wish to see Israel erased from the world map.
Doesn’t a guest on your program, who may be understandably worried about the future of his country, deserve to be treated fairly, and not sanctimoniously lectured from the safety of a London studio that, “But you’re not under threat by Iran. Nobody has threatened you for a very long time”?
Shame on you for the ignorance or ill will, or both, that your remarks bespeak.
Perhaps an early opportunity, as they say in the business, to “walk your comments back” would be in order.