Iranian president’s description of occupation as a ‘wound’ echoes Obama’s description of conflict

Israel/Palestine

Iran’s president-elect Hassan Rouhani made comments about Jerusalem the other day at a pro-Palestinian rally in Tehran that were then mistranslated and got global attention. The Guardian:

Iran’s semi-official Isna news agency misreported Rouhani’s quotes, which were then widely disseminated by western news agencies and prompted Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to react to remarks that the Iranian president never made.

Isna initially quoted Rouhani as saying: “The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed.”

In fact, Rouhani said: “In our region, a sore has been on the body of the Islamic world for many years in the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the dear Quds.”….

Rouhani did not mention the word Israel, nor that it should be “removed”. The agency has now amended its article to reflect the true quotes but the falsified ones have already been doing the rounds.

Netanyahu responded in this manner:

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “The real face of Rouhani has been exposed earlier than expected.”

Jeffrey Goldberg was triumphant:
 
Moderate Iranian president: “The Zionist regime is a wound that has sat on the body of the Muslim world for years and needs to be removed.”
 
 
“Quds day, which is in memorial of Imam [Khomeini], is a day that people present the unity of Islam against any type of oppression or aggression. And in any case, in our region, it is an old wound that has been sitting on the body of the Islamic world, in the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the dear Quds. And this day, in fact, is a remembrance that Muslim people will not forget this historical right and will always stand against oppression and aggression.”
 
Of course this is not the first time that an Iranian politician’s words have been mistranslated to great effect. In 2005, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reported to have said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Then:
 
specialists such as Juan Cole of the University of Michigan and  Arash Norouzi of the Mossadegh Project pointed out that the original statement in Persian did not say that Israel should be wiped from the map, but instead that it would collapse.
Nima Shirazi brought this to our attention. He writes:
 
While much has been written to correct the record, another aspect hasn’t been touched upon.
 
Any comment questioning the ultimate perfection of Israel and the Zionist project is subject to intense and immediate pushback by agenda-driven groups, politicians and pundits.  Once Rouhani’s comments were correctly transmitted as calling the Western-imposed oppression and aggression and the occupation of Palestine a “sore” or “wound” on the region, the same folks began explaining how offense such a description was.
 
But they seemed to be forgetting this:
 
In May 2008, during his campaign, Barack Obama appealed to the good graces of gatekeeper Jeffrey Goldberg to burnish his pro-Israel bona fides. This exchange was part of their conversation:
Goldberg: Do you think that Israel is a drag on America’s reputation overseas?

Obama: No, no, no. But what I think is that this constant wound, that this constant sore, does infect all of our foreign policy. The lack of a resolution to this problem provides an excuse for anti-American militant jihadists to engage in inexcusable actions, and so we have a national-security interest in solving this, and I also believe that Israel has a security interest in solving this because I believe that the status quo is unsustainable.

 
In fact, the reference to the imposition of the Zionist project on Palestine and the Palestinians goes back over 90 years, all the way to the British parliament.

On June 21, 1922, during a session in the House of Lords discussing the implementation and parameters of the Balfour Declaration, parliamentarian George Clarke (Lord Sydenham) argued, “What we have done is, by concessions, not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section, to start a running sore in the East, and no one can tell how far that sore will extend.”
 
He predicted the ultimate failure of the Zionist experiment because, in his words, “the harm done by dumping down an alien population upon an Arab country—Arab all round in the hinterland—may never be remedied.”
 
As history has shown, this “running sore” has yet to be healed, but – in the meantime – the place called Palestine has all but been wiped from the map. 

Goldberg himself has yet to delete the Tweet he posted with the debunked translation in it. Considering his experience interviewing Obama, one would think such language wouldn’t alarm him so much.

Another thing to note may be that, in 1988, the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission Justice and Peace issued a report called ‘The Church and Racism: Toward a More Fraternal Society’, which condemned doctrines of superiority, lamenting that “in sharp contrast to this growing awareness of human dignity, racism still exists and continually reappears in different forms. It is a wound in humanity’s side that mysteriously remains open.”

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