Press TV reports: Iran’s president-elect, Hassan Rohani, says the occupation of Palestine is an “old wound” on the body of the Muslim world.
“After all, in our region, there’s been a wound for years on the body of the Muslim world under the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the beloved [city of] al-Quds,” Rohani stated at a rally in the Iranian capital, Tehran, held to mark International Quds Day.
The New York Times reports: At least three Iranian news agencies appeared to misquote him as saying: the “Zionist regime is a sore which must be removed.” Later in the day they posted corrections.
Mr. Rouhani, who has sought to portray himself as a moderate, did not use the most inflammatory anti-Israeli invective sometimes heard from other Iranian leaders, most notably Mr. Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called Israel a cancerous tumor, a virus and an aberration that should be expunged from history.
Nevertheless, the initial news agency translation of Mr. Rouhani’s comments from the state television videotape infuriated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. He has previously described Mr. Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” whose surprising June 14 election victory was unlikely to change Iran’s policies, particularly regarding what Israel views as an Iranian determination to become a nuclear weapons power.
“Rouhani’s true face has been revealed earlier than expected,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement. “Even if they will now rush to deny his remarks, this is what the man thinks and this is the plan of the Iranian regime. These remarks by President Rouhani must rouse the world from the illusion that part of it has been caught up in since the Iranian elections.
“The president there has changed, but the goal of the regime has not: to achieve nuclear weapons in order to threaten Israel, the Middle East and the peace and security of the entire world. A country that threatens the destruction of the state of Israel must not be allowed to possess weapons of mass destruction.”
When told later that the original translation had been wrong, and that the videotape showed Mr. Rouhani had in fact not referred directly to Israel or said anything about removing the “sore,” Mr. Netanyahu’s office was unmoved and seemingly uninterested in nuance. “We stand by what we say,” said his spokesman, Mark Regev. “The remarks attributed to him we think, we are sure, that represents his true outlook.”
Tumors have to be removed, but wounds can heal.
Is healing an image that offends Netanyahu? Probably, because for as long as Israel has enemies it will feel justified in retaining its position as the Middle East’s sole nuclear power and also its Qualitative Military Edge as the region’s super-power.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Kerry can keep on handing out Band-Aids — just so long as no one refers to what they are covering up as a “wound.”