Nobody interested in Iran could be surprised that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad provoked outrage with his comments at the UN anti-racism summit. Nor would they be surprised that most Iranians find such outbursts embarrassing and out of touch with their own views. What's surprising is that Ahmadinejad keeps doing it. A typical response from Israel is Binyamin Netanyahu's:
Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said that while Israel would be commemorating 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, "in Switzerland the guest of honour is a racist and a Holocaust denier who doesn't conceal his intention to wipe Israel off the face of this Earth".
If Trita Parsi is to be believed, both Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad represent the rejectionist, anti-conciliation wings of their own domestic political scenes. Where both countries were once perilously close to reaching an understanding (based on being pariah states in the Middle East and the need for mutual security) they have since moved much farther apart in the past fifteen years.
There are a few reasons why Ahmadinejad continues to provoke Israel:
- it plays well on the "Arab street"
- it gives the Iranians credibility in the Middle East to be seen as a staunch opponent of Israel and defender of the Palestinian cause
- it shows up those Middle Eastern regimes and leaders that ally themselves with Israel
- it offers a way for the Iranians to disguise their otherness in a homogenous region (being non-Arab and non-Sunni)
Trita Parsi on Iran-Israel relations
In this video Trita Parsi gives an insight into the relationship and vying for power between Iran and Israel. Essentially both countries have conflicting interests in the Middle East, both want a close relationship with the US in order to avoid being shut out of power in the Middle East, but at the moment: Iran is on the outside, Israel is on the inside. He also covers the Israeli relationship with the Kurds and how that gives Iran's genuine enemies of Israel power within the Iranian domestic political scene.
Trita Parsi and Barbara Slavin
In this video Trita Parsi and Barbara Slavin discuss how the Iran-Israel tensions affect the internal political dynamic in Iran (strengthening radicals and weakening moderates), the suppression of civil society in Iran, how the US policy to Iran could be improved and provide an insight into internal politics in Iran.