In October 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a speech at the “World Without Zionism” conference in which he agreed with Ayatollah Khomeini’s statement that Israel “must be wiped off the map.” Some Farsi translators said that Ahmadinejad was actually referring to the “regime occupying Jerusalem,” not the land mass of Israel. They claim he was not calling for military action.
However, as Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in a column for the Atlantic1 in which he posted quotes by Ahmadinejad, “Judge for yourself what he hopes to see happen to Israel.” Here are a couple of those quotes:
“We will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future thanks to the endeavors of all Palestinian and Lebanese fighters.”
“[Israel] has reached the end of its function and will soon disappear off the geographical domain.”
Regarding its nuclear ambitions, Iran says it will only enrich uranium for peaceful purposes (despite the fact that it hid an enrichment program for eighteen years). But recently, the wife of an assassinated Iranian nuclear scientist said that her husband’s “ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel.” The husband, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, deputy director of commerce at Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility, was killed by a car bomb in early January.
If Ahmadinejad does intend to wipe Israel off the map, his plan will fail for two reasons.
One, history: all previous efforts to “wipe out” the Jewish people have failed. We all know what happened to Pharaoh and his army when they tried to pursue the Israelites across the Red Sea. In 167 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes forbade Jewish religious practice and commanded that pigs be sacrificed to Zeus in the Temple. This sparked the revolt in which the Maccabees recaptured Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple (which is why we celebrate Hanukkah). When Antiochus learned of this, “he threw himself on his bed and fell sick with grief … and there he remained for many days, subject to deep and recurrent fits of melancholy, until he realized that he was dying.”2 Hitler killed himself when he realized the war was lost and that his “Final Solution” had failed. In a speech in 1944, he declared that if the Nazis were defeated, the Jewish people could celebrate “a second triumphant Purim.”3
Now that Purim is upon us (March 7-8), let’s not forget Haman, who also sought to exterminate our people. In the fifth century B.C. in Persia, when a Jew named Mordechai refused to bow down to him, Haman decided it wasn’t enough just to destroy Mordechai—he would kill all the Jews in the kingdom. But Mordechai’s cousin, a young Jewish girl named Esther, became queen and appealed to the king to counter Haman’s evil plans. In one of the great ironies of history, the king hanged Haman on the gallows that Haman had prepared for Mordechai, and Mordechai was given Haman’s position in the kingdom.
The second reason Ahmadinejad will fail: God’s promises in the Hebrew Scriptures to our people. Let’s start with this one: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse” (Genesis 12:3). On the “curse” side of the ledger, think Pharaoh, Antiochus, Hitler and Haman. The prophet Zechariah wrote, “Whoever touches you [the Jewish people] touches the apple of his [God’s] eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
Here’s a tremendous promise:
This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the LORD Almighty is his name: “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.” (Jeremiah 31:35-36)
The prophet Ezekiel predicted that God would restore the Jewish people to the Land: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land” (Ezekiel 37:21). And in 1948, Israel once again became a nation!
Attacks on Israel will continue. But God will preserve his people. The psalmist wrote:
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.” I will proclaim the LORD’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” (Psalm 2:1-8)
Who is this anointed [translation: Messiah], king of Israel, and son of whom the Psalmist speaks, the one of whom he concludes, “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (v. 12)? His name is Yeshua (Jesus). Purim, when God rescued our people, is a great time to experience his personal plan of deliverance—from sin and death—for you.
- Jeffrey Goldberg, “Questions About Ahmadinejad’s Famous Quote”.
- 1 Maccabees 6:8-9
- The New York Times, January 31, 1944, p.4.