Gerecht on Farsi Verbs and Nuclear Obliteration

Reuel Marc Gerecht writes in:

That was a nice but limited posting you did on Ahmadinejad.  This subject is embarrassing:  the issue is not whether Ahmadinejad wants Israel to go bye-bye.  He, Khameneh'i, Rafsanjani, Larijani, and every member of the ruling elite in whom some have put hope for a normal relationship have stated repeatedly their desire for Israel to cease to exist.  It matters not whether it's from a map or from our memories, it's the verb that always matters.  "Mahve Shodan" is a strong verb.  It is in the passive here ("mahve shovad" in the original), but the intent is beyond dispute.  One can take some comfort that Ahmadinejad did not use the active voice, but that would be presumptuous even for him.   I don't have at my finger tips the original Persian newspapers celebrating the destruction of the US Marines in Beirut in 1983--I can't recall reading a mournful account from Iran--but I'm willing to bet large quantities of money that the verbs used to describe the slaughter of the US Marines were not in the active since there was no desire on the part of the regime to take credit even though credit was deserved.

The issue was surely not the voice employed, but the explosion.  Those who dwell on verb voices and tenses make one deeply suspicious about their intellectual integrity.  Ali Khameneh'i might not use a nuclear weapon against Israel for a variety of mundane reasons--and each of those reasons is a little less compelling when the delivery mechanism is an unnamed and unclaimed terrorist.  But among those reasons would not be the most comforting reason of all:  because he ethically would find it horrific. His statements, those of Ahmadinejad, and even those of the reformist clerics in whom some people had once put their faith do not allay the fear that we are dealing with a regime that would, if it could, slaughter Jews in Israel as it once slaughtered US Marines. Joyfully.