For the first time in eight years of appearing before the UN General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a less controversial and hard-line speech than the leader of Israel.
Where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concentrated his remarks Thursday on Iran’s nuclear program and the threat he said it posed to Israel and the world, Ahmadinejad made only one reference to Israel in his speech a day earlier, noting “the continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation.”
Ahmadinejad did not deny the Holocaust, accuse the US of attacking itself on 9-11 or repeat his usual citation of Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s prediction that Israel would be “wiped from the pages of history.”
Nor did the Iranian president mention that one nuclear weapon could destroy Israel – as former President Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani once said – or even say that Iran would retaliate against an Israeli strike.
In fact, Ahmadinejad, who in the past has boasted about Iran’s entry into the nuclear club, did not mention the nuclear issue at all — or the draconian sanctions imposed on Iran because of its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The closest he came to the subject was a broader complaint against the world’s “domineering powers” and his demand that the United Nations come under “new management.” Those themes were the same as he has stressed in previous years.
Reuel Marc Gerecht, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neo-conservative Washington think tank, wrote that Ahmadinejad, in what is likely to be his last appearance at the UN as Iranian president, showed his “soft side.” Continue reading