Excerpts from an Interview With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

COOPER: You have repeatedly implied that the Holocaust never happened. And it certainly seems to be the — and implied that more research needs to be done on whether or not it did happen.

I mean, the argument could be made that the genocide was perhaps the most well-documented genocide of the 20th century. Do you really believe that the Holocaust never happened?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): If this event happened, where did it happen? The where is the main question. And it was not in Palestine. Why is the Holocaust used as a pretext to occupy the Palestinian lands?

COOPER: But do you understand why it’s deeply offensive to people…

(CROSSTALK)

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): That subject, how is it connected to the occupying regime in Jerusalem?

COOPER: You do realize, though, why it would be deeply offensive to so many people that you use — that you even say “if it ever happened”?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Well, you don’t speak here for all Americans. In the past two or three days, I have met with many members of the media and the press here, some who are even related to the U.S. government. But the questions are the same across the board.

COOPER: Why — why can’t you believe there was a Holocaust and support Palestinians?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): No, that’s not a reason at all.

The subject of the Holocaust is a different subject. I raised two or three questions that were very clear about it. I said that, in World War II, 60 million people lost their lives. They were killed. Two million of them were non-civilians, so to say, military. The rest were civilian populations.

And they all lost their lives. Their lives were all cared for and respected. But why is it that we concentrate so much on the lives of a – a group of – among the 60 million?

The second question is, assuming that this happened, why don’t they allow more research and studies to be done about it? If it is a truth that happened, then we – we will need more clarity about it. And they are – must be impartial groups, or whoever who is interested should be able to do the research. Why is that prevented?

COOPER: President Bush, at the U.N. spoke — tried to speak directly to the Iranian people yesterday. And he said…

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Did you get the answer you wanted about the Holocaust?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: No, I didn’t, but I know my time is limited.

I — it is a fascinating subject. I mean, I think what people in America are…

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Are you asking the questions that are on your mind or questions that are given to you by others?

COOPER: Actually, in America, we have a free press, unlike in – in – in parts of Iran.

But I’m asking the questions that I’m interested in. But I – I know your time is short. I would — frankly, I would love to talk to you for two hours. But…

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Well, given that all the questions are very similar, it speaks for itself.

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COOPER: At the U.N., you spoke with great passion of – of brotherhood, of peace and respect for all nations.

Yet, in Tehran last year, you spoke about wiping Israel off – off the face of the – the map, wiping Israel off the face of the map. That doesn’t sound to many people in the United States, not just in the government – to many people here, who heard that through the media, that doesn’t sound like great respect for other nations.

Do you want to wipe Israel off the face of the map?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I’m surprised why American politicians are so sensitive and biased with – with regards to Israel. What is – is there a relationship, to speak with such prejudice?

Everyone is prevented about questioning the regime. Whenever a question is raised, some American politicians react very strongly to it, whereas we know there’s a lot being said about many countries around the world.

Lebanon was bombarded. In Ghana, people were killed with laser bombs. But it doesn’t seem to have created concern among American politicians as much. But when somebody questions or criticizes the Zionist regime, there’s so much reaction. Could you tell me why this is the case?

I would think it would be a good question to ask from American politicians, the extent of the prejudice we — we see with them about Israel, given the massacres committed by Israel, killing people in their own homes. Should they not be subject to criticism? Should nobody complain and raise objections about the violations of rights and the murders that they commit? Are they free to do such acts?

Should they not act within the framework of any law?

COOPER: To — to some in America, though, that is going to sound like you’re not answering the question. I mean, the – the question really is – is, do you believe Israel has a right to exist?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I say that it is an occupying regime.

We say we must — you must allow the Palestinian nation to decide for itself what its fate should be. There are five million displaced Palestinians, four million who live under the threat of bombardments, or actual bombardments and attacks.

So, let Palestinian people decide for themselves. We support the vote of the people. And whatever the result is, we must all accept. Why should there be objection to this proposal, or — or, so to say, with the vote of the people to indicate their will? Do — don’t the people in Palestine have the right to live? Are they not human beings? They live in their own homeland. In their own homeland, they are under attack.

COOPER: The same statement could be said of – of Jewish people in Israel, that they’re living in what they say is their homeland. Don’t they have a right to exist?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Yes, in Palestine, there were a group of Jews that live. But where did they come afterwards, the larger groups that came to Palestine?

We know what the trend was. A group of people came from other places to that land. Where does the father of Mr. Olmert come from, for example? Some of the ministers in Israel are, in fact, of Iranian origin, with no background, historical background, in Palestine. But they’re there, ruling.

COOPER: So, you’re saying, really, they don’t belong there; they should go somewhere else?

AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I am saying, let the Palestinian people decide. The Palestinian people should decide what to do.

And among Palestinians, there are Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Our question is, what about the rights of the Palestinian people? They lived there, and they were displaced and forced to leave their own homeland, under the threat of a gun, and, regretfully, with the support of the American government.

What is happening to the Palestinians? Do they not have the right? Shouldn’t we be thinking about that? Their young people are being killed on the streets. Homes are being destroyed over their heads, even in Gaza, even in the West Bank.

After all, they are human beings, too. They have the life – the right to life and to live in their own homeland. Others have come from far and beyond and are now there ruling there and governing that land.

Why did they go there? They should return to where they came from. Or, even if they don’t, they should at least allow the Palestinian nation to decide about that and the future.

So, what I’m saying is quite clear. We want peace to be established there. We care for the Jews who live under pressure there as well, because they, too, are living outside their own homes, from where they belong, their homeland, actually. That is not their homeland.
http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0609/20/acd.01.html