Photo: AP
Ambassador Daniel Ayalon
Photo: AP
Photo: AP
Iranian President Ahmadinejad
Photo: AP

Ayalon slams think tank's invitation to Amhadinejad

Israeli ambassador to US sends harsh letter to president of New York research institute which invited Iranian president to deliver lecture. 'Appeasing fanatics like Hitler and granting them legitimacy leads to genocide and war,' he says

WASHINGTON – Israeli Ambassador to the United States Daniel Ayalon sent a harsh complaint letter Friday to the president of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, which on Thursday invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to deliver a speech before its members.


In his letter, Ayalon asked Richars Haas, the institute's president, to acknowledge his mistake and express remorse.


Ayalon wrote to Haas that the Jewish leaders in the US have compared the invitation to Ahmadinejad to an invitation sent to Hitler in the 1930s.


This is in fact a worse invitation because in the 1930s Hitler had not yet called for genocide, Ayalon wrote.


"But today we have learned the lesson – that appeasing fanatics like Hitler and granting them legitimacy leads to genocide and war," he said.


The Jewish leaders invited to the meeting with the Iranian president decided to boycott it. The event itself was embarrassing, with Ahmadinejad ignoring the questions directed at him and attacking the attendees for representing US President George W. Bush's stance.


I am deeply disappointed by the fact that the Council on Foreign Relations gave Iran's president the stage this week, Ayalon wrote.


"The very fact that an organization like the council convened to listen to his ranting provided Ahmadinejad legitimacy," he said.


The ambassador called the decision to host the Iranian leader a "Terrible mistake," Even though Ayalon said he was sure neither Haass nor any member of the council endorsed Ahmadinejad's views.


Legitimacy instead of condemnation

Not only America's relations with Israel should have dissuaded the council from inviting the Iranian president, according to Ayalon. He is also very hostile toward the US, as expressed in his UN appearances, the ambassador said.


Ahmadinejad said that the world would be better without America and also supports terror and works to harm American interests across the world, he added.


The ambassador wrote that letting Ahmadinejad speak would not change his approach but will only strengthen him.


Did you really expect to hear anything new from him, Ayalon asked Haas in the letter. The answer should be clear – what does a political leader have to say or do in order not to be worthy of your invitation, he added.


Richard Haas, the council's president and a Jew who has visited Israel many times in the past, was a senior State Department official working under former Secretary of State Colin Powell. The institute's board of directors includes Powell himself, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke.


AP contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 09.23.06, 09:30
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