Monday, 18 October 2010
Last Thursday the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, travelled to southern Lebanon in a show of support for the terrorist organisation Hezbollah. The President stood within four kilometres of Israel to address a crowd of thousands of people at a stadium in Bent Jbeil. He was joined by his Hezbollah No. 2, Naim Qasim, along with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah via video link. President Ahmadinejad took the opportunity to offer another of his now infamous denunciations of Israel. He said, ‘The occupying Zionists today have no choice but to accept reality and go back to their countries of origin.’ Not content for the state of Israel to be abolished, he added, ‘The entire world should know that the Zionists are destined to disappear from the world.’ This language comes as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the President’s speeches of hate. In 2005, in his ‘World without Zionism’ speech, he declared that Israel must be wiped off the map. In 2006, at the deeply offensive International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, hosted in Tehran, he stated, ‘The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon.’
While some in the West suggest that Israel should shrug off the latest statements by the President, they ignore the reality of Israel’s situation. Israel is a bastion of freedom and democracy in a region where both are highly undervalued by neighbouring regimes. It is a nation that faces the very real prospect of terrorism on a daily basis, with some of its neighbours committed to its very destruction. Israel has every right to defend itself against terrorist acts. Israel not only has the right to defend itself but also has an obligation to do so. It is right to take action in self-defence. The right to do so is enshrined in international law under article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. Israel would be derelict in its responsibilities not to do so. Israel has every right to feel threatened by Iran’s overtures. Moreover, such statements by the President cannot be ignored, especially given the precarious state of affairs in the region. President Ahmadinejad’s trip is a clear sign that the Ayatollah regime is extending its influence in Lebanon. Hezbollah, Iran’s close ally in Lebanon, shares power in a fragile unity government with the pro-Western coalition.