The appalling comments on Israel made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Israel should be wiped off map, October 27) are both empty rhetoric and highly damaging to the Palestinian cause. I believe we (Palestinian Muslims and Christians) should always make a clear distinction between our political struggle against institutionalised racism and ethnic cleaning in Palestine-Israel and the fact that we and the Israelis would, ultimately, have to live together as equal citizens under some form of secular democracy - and not wipe each other out.What I like about this is the fact that it is free of the absurd and manifest hypocrisy of most governmental statements and of the Guardian's own editorial on this non-issue.
Muslim fundamentalists (Ahmadinejad included) have miserably failed to understand the reality in historic Palestine: in the process of brutal colonisation of the country, a Hebrew-speaking "nation" has emerged, with its own distinct language, culture and flourishing literature. There are 5-6 million Hebrew-speaking Israelis and no one has the right to talk about wiping them out. Acknowledging the current bi-national reality is something completely different from legitimising the colonial process by which this reality has come about. The fact that the Israelis are trying quietly, but systematically (although not always successfully), on the ground to do to Palestinians in the West Bank what Ahmadinejad seems to suggest should be done to Israel should only encourage us to seek an alternative vision, away from political Zionism and Islamic fundamentalism.
Dr Nur Masalha
University of Surrey
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