Peres appeals to Iranian people
Ahead of festival of Nowruz, Israeli president broadcasts message to Iranian citizens, partly in Farsi, urging them to 'return to enlightened world'. He also slams Tehran's extremist leaders, saying they should 'stop spending their days dealing with bombs and uranium – is this in the name of God?'
"On the eve of the new year, I appeal to the noble Iranian people on behalf of the ancient Jewish people and urge them to reclaim their worthy place among the nations of the enlightened world," said President Shimon Peres in a special address broadcast on Israel Radio in Farsi ahead of the Iranian holiday Nowruz, that symbolizes the start of spring and a new year.
"Our ties with the Iranian people have known days of prosperity even in these modern times, when we shared with you our experience in agriculture, scientific and medical developments and we worked to develop the best of ties with you," Peres recalled.
"Unfortunately, these days, the relations between our countries are at a low that stems from the impulses leading the current leaders of your country to act against the State of Israel and its people in any way possible."
Peres, who was also interviewed on a number of matters pertaining to Iran, reminisced of his visit to the Islamic Republic in the time of the Shah, and commented on the state Iran is currently in: "There is major unemployment, serious corruption, a lot of drugs and dissatisfaction there.
"Children can't be fed enriched uranium for breakfast, they need a real breakfast, and you can't invest the money in enriched uranium while telling the kids to stay a little hungry and a little ignorant."
'Leaders not serving the people'In his message, Peres tried to appeal to the Iranian people by presenting his view on thier leaders: "I see the suffering of the children and I ask myself, why? This is a country that is so rich with such a rich culture, why do they let a few religious fanatics take the worst path in the eyes of God and in the eyes of man?
"Therefore, I look at Iran on the one hand with admiration for its history, but on the other hand with grief for what has become of it and in hopes that it will recover."
Sources from the President's Residence said the special greeting was recorded, among other things following a suggestion made by senior diplomatic sources in Jerusalem. Part of the audio message was even read out in the Farsi language.
Peres further said he believed the Iranian people will bring down the extremist leaders "who are not serving the people". The president then commented on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust, saying, "Since when is he an expert on the Jewish Holocaust? Was he in Auschwitz? What does he know? All he does is speak and speak all day long."
"The leaders should let people live, let women breath, let the economy grow, and stop spending their days dealing with bombs and uranium – is this in the name of God? Is this what Allah asked of them?" Peres wondered.