Behind Ahmadinejad

In a really helpful piece in the new New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson gives us a glimpse of the Iranian president's arts adviser. I favor a good faith attempt to see if the Tehran regime can be prodded to be of use to America's strategic interests and do not believe it seeks to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel. But it would be deeply naive to misread some of the rhetoric coming from some parts of the regime. There is evil there:

Mohammad Ali Ramin advises Ahmadinejad on the Holocaust and is said to have shaped the President’s views on the subject. One morning this winter, Ramin met me and an interpreter on the campus of the Message of Light University, in Tehran, where he teaches comparative philosophy ...

Ramin explained that the prevailing history of the Holocaust was unfair. The West, he said, had transferred its “Jewish problem” to the Middle East. “But it seems that the U.S. and other Western governments have finally decided to get rid of the Jews,” Ramin said. “By bringing Hitler, and by taking the Jews to the Muslim world, they have created a situation in which the Jews will be destroyed. They have created a situation where, because they are killing Palestinians, the Jews are more hated than ever.” He put on his glasses, and, for the first time, met my eyes. “And so you can see that Israel has been created to destroy not only Muslims but the Jews themselves.”

It had grown cold, but Ramin was reluctant to bring us to his office. Finally, looking unhappy, he led us in, glancing around as he entered. As we sat in front of his desk, Ramin informed me that the Jews had carried out the 9/11 attacks.

“The Zionists have blamed it on the Muslims so that they have an excuse to attack some Muslim nations,” he said. But it was all for naught. The Jews had also helped Nero, and it had not saved the Roman Empire from collapse.

A large bookcase ran the length of the wall behind Ramin’s desk. A couple of pictures propped up on one of the shelves caught my eye. One was of Imad Mugniyah, the Hezbollah commander, who was killed in a car-bomb explosion in Damascus, in February, 2008. The other depicted a group of men, Orthodox Jews, silhouetted against a yellow background. Loops of Farsi script ran in red across the base of the picture. When Ramin was called to the door for a moment, I asked my interpreter to quickly translate the words on the picture. He said, “It says ‘money-grubbers, bloodsuckers.’ ”