60 Minutes Interview - Americans Lack Empathy for Middle Eastern People – Iranian President Speaks Out

60 Minutes Interview - Americans Lack Empathy for Middle Eastern People – Iranian President Speaks Out

The Los Angeles CBS affiliate reported that a dozen members of a “militant” Jewish group picketed outside their studios Sunday, in protest of the 60 Minutes interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ari Rubin, director of the Jewish Defense League in Los Angeles said “There's no possible reason to whitewash or glorify” the Iranian President.

What did people expect the President of Iran to say on 60 Minutes; that it is OK for Israel to inhabit land that was inhabited by their fellow Muslims? A previous Chairman of the JDL, Irv Rubin, was arrested by the federal government on charges of conspiring to blow up the King Fahd mosque in Los Angeles as well the office of Arab-American congressman, Darryl Issa.

Darryl Issa is a grandson of Lebanese immigrants, and holds a congressional seat in San Diego. It was reported that after his arrest, Irv Rubin either killed himself or is suspected to have arranged his own death to avoid going to trial for the charges against him. The judge that set bail for Rubin said he was a danger to the community.

During the 60 Minutes interview, the Iranian President turned some of the questions around. For instance, when asked if Iran was supplying weapons to Hezbollah he asked Mike Wallace why “the American government is supporting this murderous regime [Israel]”. The President went on to talk about Israel’s attacks with American made bombs. He said “The laser guided bombs have been given to the Zionists and they are targeting the shelter of defenseless children and women.” Comment on this Article on our Forum/

The President later added "Please tell me, are the Lebanese inside the occupied lands right now or is it the other way around, that the Zionist troops are in Lebanese territory?. Lebanon is defending its independence. We are not at all happy with war. That is why on the first day we condemned these recent conflict. And we asked for an immediate cease fire."

The President of Iran believes Security Council is also doing America's bidding by trying to prevent Iran from developing nuclear energy. The Security Council has demanded that Iran stop all uranium enrichment by the end of this month. Ahmadinejad says he will not do that. Naturally Ahmadinejad denies he is working on a nuclear bomb. Even if he were, one would expect him to deny it.

Here is where the empathy comes in. When Wallace asked about remarks made about the holocaust Ahmadinejad sidestepped the question and gave a perspective most Americans don’t see. He said "Well, if an atrocity was committed in Germany or Europe for that matter, why should the Palestinians answer for this? They had no role to play in this. Why on the pretext of the Holocaust they have occupied Palestine? Millions of people have been made refugees. Thousands of people to-date have been killed, sir. Thousands of people have been put in prison. Well, at the very moment, a great war is raging because of that."

Many Americans fail to empathize with people in the Middle East on the Iraq War as well. How would the US feel if the Russians invaded one of our neighbors? Would we support the neighbor or support the Russians? While most Americans are saddened by the death of fellow Americans and Brits, the Iranians are saddened by the death of Iraqis.

President Ahmadinejad said “Well, we are very saddened that the people of Iraq are being killed. I believe that the rulers of the U.S. have to change their mentality. I ask you, sir, what is the American army doing inside Iraq? Iraq has a government, a parliament. Iraq has a civilized nation with a long history of civilization. These are people we're dealing with."

When asked about Saddam Hussein, the Iranian President said “Saddam’s story has been finished for close to three years, I would say. He belongs in the past. … And the Americans are openly saying that 'We are here for the long run,' in Iraq that is. So, a question for you, according to international law, the responsibility of providing security rests on the shoulder of the occupying, rather army. So, I ask them why are not — why are they not providing security?"

President Bush has called Iran part of the “axis of evil”. Ahmadinejad had his own label for Bush as well: “The Great Oppressor”. "We are opposed to oppression," the president told Wallace. "We support whoever is victimized and oppressed even the oppressed people of the U.S."

Evidently his purpose for the interview was to be able to speak directly to the American people. "I think that Mr. Bush can be in the service of his own people," Ahmadinejad said. "He can save the American economy using appropriate methodologies without killing people, innocents, without occupation, without threats. I am very saddened to hear that 1 percent of the total population is in prison. And 45 million people don't have a health care cover. That is very sad to hear."

When the interview was winding down Wallace asked one more question. Again, the answer revealed how many people outside the US view us. Mile Wallace asked "You have a special unit of martyr seekers in your revolutionary guard. They claim they have 52,000 trained suicide bombers ready to attack American and British targets if America should attack Iran."

What would we expect a foreign nation to say after we declare them to be part of the “axis of evil”? The Iranian President said "So, are you expecting the Americans to threaten us and we sit idly by and watch them with our hands … tied?"

Asked if the Americans have threatened him, Ahmadinejad said: "I do hope that the Americans will give up this practice of threatening other nations so that you are not forced me to ask such questions. I wish you well."

It is pretty clear the US uses threats and bribes in its foreign policy. The question has to be if these threats and bribes are in the interest of the American people or special interests? Was it a good idea to give weapons and training to Saddam Hussein? Did that serve our interests? What about our current policies?

By Tom Madison

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