The threat to eliminate Israel has been repeated by Iranian leaders for some years. Not only back in the time of Khomeini but also during the time of the Khatami. When, for example, the new ballistic Shahab III missile, with a range of 1700 kilometres, was presented in Teheran it was celebrated under the official slogan ”Eliminate Israel”. It is also well-known that it is nowadays Iran which is the main sponsor of suicide-bombers in Israel.
Hatred of Israel is not a function of Islam as is sometimes said, but of brutal dictatorships fostering anti-Semitism for internal domestic purposes. It can not be excused by tolerance of a religion just as it cannot be excused to see dictatorships and hatred as a function of a religion. Nevertheless, democracies all over the world, with some exceptions, have been silent on anti-Semitism in the Muslim world and thereby paved the way for statements like the one this Wednesday.
What we really see in Iran is a repetition of propaganda, threats, and hatred that Europe once saw emerge in Hitler’s Germany. European leaders should take the development in Iran as more serious and one-time events with one-time reactions. The threat against Israel is a threat directed at Jews because they are Jews and at democracies because they are democracies.
What is now required is an international policy which makes clear that the international community refuses to accept this from any country.
Gunnar Hökmark is a Member of the European Parliament, in the EPP-ED Group and President of the Swedish-Israel Friendship Association