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Iran’s President Calls Israel ‘an Insult to Humankind’ (NY) TIMES) By RICK GLADSTONE 08/18/12) Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/18/world/middleeast/in-iran-ahmadinejad-calls-israel-insult-to-humankind.html?_r=1&ref=middleeast&gwh=EA5F63E8BC3B510C0AD74BC07F819C6F
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Iran’s president fanned the flames of confrontation with Israel on Friday, calling the Israeli government “an insult to humankind” in a speech on the annual Iranian holiday that calls for the Palestinian reclamation of Jerusalem from Israel’s control.
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The speech by the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has become known for his baldly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic remarks, came as tensions had been intensifying with Israel, which regards Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat.
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Speculation has raged in the Israeli press about whether the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to order a military strike on uranium enrichment sites in Iran that Israel suspects are part of a clandestine effort to build nuclear weapons. Iran contends that its uranium enrichment is peaceful.
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Mr. Ahmadinejad’s speech, as reported by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, added some new and incendiary flourishes to a theme he had pushed for his entire presidency.
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“The very existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to humankind and an affront to all world nations,” the news agency’s English- language report on the speech quoted him as saying. “Confronting Zionists will also pave the way for saving the whole humankind from exploitation, depravity and misery.”
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In another passage, Mr. Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying that Jerusalem Day, which the Iranians call Quds Day after the city’s Arabic name, was “an occasion for all human communities to wipe out this scarlet letter, meaning the Zionist regime, from the forehead of humanity.”
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A violently anti-Israel message was also the theme of Jerusalem Day commemorations in Beirut, Lebanon, the home base of Hezbollah, the militant political organization that fought a war with Israel in 2006 and is aligned with the governments of Iran and Syria in what they call the axis of resistance. Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah secretary general, said in a televised speech that its arsenal of missiles trained on Israel included precision-guided rockets that could transform “the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists into hell.”
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Israel considers Iran its most dangerous adversary because of Iran’s suspect nuclear program, missiles capable of hitting Israeli targets, and support for militant Palestinian groups on Israel’s borders. Conversely, Iran’s clerical rulers have considered Israel one of the world’s most arrogant and dangerous powers since they came to power in the Islamic revolution of 1979. Iranian officials constantly point out that even though they repudiate nuclear weapons, Israel has an arsenal of them.
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Both Mr. Ahmadinejad and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have regularly excoriated Israel’s existence, but Israel harbors particular antipathy toward Mr. Ahmadinejad, who has denied the Holocaust and predicted in a speech early in his tenure that Israel would one day be “wiped off the map.” (Copyright 2012 The New York Times Company 08/18/12)
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