I heard what he said, but I cannot repeat it to you. The words of a powerful oppressor pierce the heart and fly away. He can rage at you for showing suspicion of him, and at the same moment make it clear that what you suspect is true; and he can insult you and claim that you have insulted him, mock you and demand satisfaction, threaten and complain at the same time. He can be both shameless and irreproachable. Do not ask me to repeat what he said.
A couple of recent events reminded me of the above quote by Alessandro Manzoni (The Bethroted, Chapter 7). Both of them deal with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It’s up to the reader to judge whether or not the reminiscence was appropriate.
Yesterday, in his blistering speech before the United Nations General Assembly, the little man of Teheran remained faithful to himself, as four prestigious personalities of American diplomacy and intelligence had easily foreseen in an open (and worried) letter to the Wall Street Journal published a couple of days ago. As expected, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted Iran's nuclear activities are for peaceful uses only, but these claims clearly exceed the boundaries of credibility and science, as the four authors of the above mentioned article recall:
Iran's enrichment program is far larger than reasonably necessary for an energy program. In past inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, U.N. inspectors found rare elements that only have utility in nuclear weapons and not in a peaceful nuclear energy program.
Tehran's continual refusal to answer questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about this troublesome part of its nuclear program suggests that it has something to hide.
At the same time Ahmadinejad blamed “a few bullying powers” for creating the world’s problems, and said—in a vaguely threatening way—the “American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road.” As for the Palestinian issue, even though he stopped short of calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” as he has in the past (2005), he said Zionists in Israel “have forged a regime through collecting people from various parts of the world and bringing them to other people's land, by displacing, detaining and killing the true owners of that land,” while the Security Council “cannot do anything, and sometimes under pressure from a few bullying powers, even paves the way for supporting these Zionist murders.”
Almost a Buddhist philosopher, a true peacemaker/peacebuilder, n’est pas? Yet, apparently not everybody agrees. Last week, for instance, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told a Jewish organisation in Paris, in reference to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that “we must pay the utmost attention to the lunacy of someone who says, perhaps for internal reasons, that Israel must be wiped off the map. […] We don't believe such things are real, but there has already been a certain gentleman who started off as a democrat but who went on to do what he did.”
Berlusconi is likely to remember that Ahmadinejad, visiting Rome earlier this year for a UN summit, also said Israel would vanish with or without the involvement of Tehran. Besides, he must have heard that just last Friday, in a telephone conversation with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, Ahmadinejad expressed his hope for a victory celebration “after the disappearance of Zionists from Palestine and from the world.” He also added that “the Palestinian nation is fighting against the most despicable people on the face of this earth.” A propos of Buddhist philosophers & true peacemakers/peacebuilders.
But, since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an honourable man, Silvio Berlusconi’s accusation against the Iranian president caused serious protest in Tehran, which sent official note to the Italian Foreign Ministry protesting against the comparison of Iranian President and Adolf Hitler. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi described the Italian premier's comments as “absurd,” and “lacking of any logic and the high values of the Italian people and culture.” Of course he also criticised Berlusconi for “defending the Zionist criminals whose hands bear the blood of thousands of Palestinian children, women and people.”
I guess the reader thus is enabled to judge whether or not the quote has something to deal with the little man of Teheran.