Paris, 22 July (IPS) “Sorry, when I said Iranians are friendly with the Israeli people, actually I wanted to say Palestinian people”, Mr. Esfandiar Rahim Mosha’i, the Iranian vice-President in charge of Tourism and Cultural Heritage Organisation corrected on 21 July 2008 his earlier statement in which he had said that “Iranians are friendly with the American and Israeli peoples. Actually, we think the American people are one of the best in the world”.
A close friend and ally of the fanatic Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Rahim Mosha’i made the statement during a public gathering on tourism and its importance, held in Tehran on 19 July, and reported by the Fars news agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, and some other pro-Government internet sites and newspapers.
“Not only we have no enemy, but we are friends with the American people, with the Israeli people, and we are proud that we are friendly with all the nations in the world”, the vice-President had observed, adding that “anyone who claims imposing one religion and one school of thought on the world is doomed”.
How is that Keyhan newspaper which considers itself as that godfather of the hard liners is keeping silence about the stranger statements of the vice-President praising American and Israeli peoples?
Coming at the height of verbal and psychological war between Iran and Israel and military maneuvers aimed at dissuading the other from any attack, the unprecedented statement received a warm welcome in Israel and a surprising silence from hard line media in Iran.
In fact, it took more than 24 hours before hard line media start to fire their salvos on Mr. Rahim Mosha’i, -- a time necessary to check if the surprising declaration was made with the blessing of the Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, or not -- reminding him that “Iran can not be friendly with Zionists. One wonders what Mr. Rahim Mosha’i had in mind making such ridiculous statement”, radical press, wrote forcing Mr. Rahim Moshah’i to provide some explanation.
“How is that Keyhan newspaper which considers itself as that godfather of the principalists and hard liners is keeping silence about the stranger statements of the vice-President praising American and Israeli peoples while the same paper had attacked former president Mohammad Khatami when he said that we must respect other peoples?” observed the internet news site “Tabnak” (formerly Baztab), which reflects the views of Mr. Mohsen Reza’i, the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards and Secretary of the Expediency Council, the powerful organ which is chaired by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the regime’s virtual number two man.
What surprised more political analysts is that not only the statement by Mr. Rahim Mosha’i is in total contrast with the usual anti-Israeli outbursts by the President and his denial of the Holocaust, postures that have outraged international public opinion, but also he used the words “Israel” and “Israelis” even though that these references are officially prohibited by the Islamic Republic, referring to Israel as the “Zionist Entity” and to the Israelis as “Zionist Occupiers” or “Usurpators”.
When I said Israel, I actually measnt Palestine, corrected Mr. Rahim Mosha'i
In an official, but mild denial, published by the same Fars News on Monday 21 July, Mr. Rahim Mosha’i says “it is obvious that Iran can not be friendly with Zionist usurpators. Everyone should have understood that I made a mistake by saying we are friendly with the Israeli people while I had the Palestinians in mind”, he said, adding “however, as stated by our dear President several time, Iranians have no enmity with the American or the Jewish people, which we distinguish from the Zionists who occupied Palestinian’s homeland”.
This is not the first time that Mr. Rahim Mosha’i, whose daughter is married to the son of the President, has provoked the ire of the orthodox media, angered at seeing him watching a performance of belly dancers in Ankara or having organized a secret meeting in Tehran between Mr. Ahmadinejad and an Iranian lobbyist in Washington working hard for Iran-America rapprochement, a professor at the New Jersey’s Rutgers University who, as the president of the Iranian-American Council, hard line media like Keyhan tags him as an “agent” of the CIA. ENDS RAHIM MOSHA’I 22708