The American public deserves to know what went down, and if the only way to find out is to go to Shabbat services, well, more power to the two-fisted editor of the synagogue bulletin. —Michael Miner, “Barely on the Radar,” August 21

The Quote Unquote Mistranslation

Re “Barely on the Radar” by Michael Miner, August 21

It is now generally acknowledged that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not say that Israel “should be wiped off the map,” as claimed in Michael Miner’s otherwise excellent article. On his Web site Juan Cole, the Richard P. Mitchell Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Michigan, succinctly explained what Ahmadinejad did say:

“I object to this translation of what he said on two grounds. First, it gives the impression that he wants to play Hitler to Israel’s Poland, mobilizing an armored corps to move in and kill people.

“But the actual quote, which comes from an old speech of Khomeini, does not imply military action, or killing anyone at all. The second reason is that it is just an inexact translation. The phrase is almost metaphysical. He quoted Khomeini that ‘the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.’ It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.”

The issue has been discussed extensively in the media. According to prodemocracy activist Arash Norouzi, winner of a 2008 award from Project Censored for his story “Wiped Off the Map: The Rumor of the Century,” the confusion stems from a translation error by the Iranian official news service.

For the record I would love to see Ahmadinejad’s regime vanish from the page of time, and I have the impression from their writings that so would Cole and Norouzi.

Suzanne Erfurth

Good story but I don’t like the false statements of propaganda in the story.

(1) Iran isn’t “hell bent” on getting nuclear weapons. Our own government’s NIE has said they halted this program in 2003:

(2) Ahmadinejad never said he wanted to wipe Israel off the map. This was a deliberate mistranslation. The actual translation was that the Israeli administration would pass from the pages of history. As will the Bush administration:


Michael Miner replies:

A short way of responding to whammoroamao’s comment on Ahmadinejad’s statement is to refer him to his own source, the Wikipedia entry on Ahmadinejad and Israel, which points out that although the Iranian president’s remarks, as given, do seem to have been carelessly translated, the translation was furnished by Iran’s government-controlled news agency and the phrase “wiped away” appeared on the president’s own official Web site. It seems that if Iran’s president did not actually say what he was reported saying, he had no problem with the report being believed.

But Wikipedia goes on to tell us that Ahmadinejad later tried to put some distance between himself and his quoted remarks, just this July denying that Iran would attack Israel and explaining that his remarks (made at a 2005 “World Without Zionism” conference) were simply a prediction that the government of Israel will collapse on its own.

But I urge readers to click onto the long and detailed Wikipedia discussion and make up their own minds whether Israel has overreacted. That’s really the question, as my column concerns a new American radar that Israel wants installed to protect itself against Iranian missiles and mentions the possibility of a preemptive Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

There’s a healthy sampling of other Ahmadinejad comments on Israel, including the statement at a 2006 news conference that “Israel can ultimately not continue its existence.” This would be tolerated as the tough-minded assessment of a theocracy’s internal contradictions if made by an academic in Cambridge, but Ahmadinejad is not that.

Defence News appears to be confirming Michael Miner’s story:

I hope it is true—defensive rockets kill far fewer people than do offensive ones.

Ron Sherman

Another Supporter of the Movement

Re “Potty Poet” by Jeffrey Felshman, August 21

I too, am in the john. Mercury Cafe on Chicago Ave.

Lkat Graham

More Chicago Blaxploitation Flicks

Re “A Blast From Blaxploitation’s Past” by Miles Raymer, August 21

I enjoyed reading Miles Raymer’s column on the Brotherman would-be soundtrack, but he does make one clear error in an aside. Raymer writes that Three Tough Guys was “the only blaxploitation film shot in Chicago” and this is demonstrably false. Part of the mid-1970s’ Three The Hard Way was shot in Chicago and that film was also notable for featuring this city’s best soul group, the Impressions. Another mid-70s blaxploitation film, Monkey Hustle, starring a smooth Yaphet Kotto, was shot in our city.

Aaron Cohen

Associate Editor


Maybe It’s Maybelline

Re “You Can’t Kill Kill Hannah” by Miles Raymer, August 21

So the Kill Hannah lads think they’ve “never had a lucky break”? How cute. Allow me to address the band directly. I’d like to be the one to introduce them to reality. Consider this, boys: You had your first lucky break being born into a culture that accepts the two pounds of Maybelline you pile around your eyes as ample compensation for your cruddy songs, your trite, mawkish lyrics and your obvious aversion to original ideas. You further got lucky that big corporate record companies love buying Maybelline for pretty 20-year-olds with no ideas (until they get bored, move on to some new group of 20-year-olds and slide all your Maybelline receipts into the “tax write-off” column).

Your luck continues today with the faithfully hometowny Chicago Reader, always there to cheer you on and give you free ink on demand usually just in time for another much anticipated swing through your old stomping ground (tickets anyone?). The fact that all this good luck somehow failed to congeal into genuine superstardom (can you believe it?!) is supposed to make people feel sorry for you? Because the timekeeper nodded off and your 15 minutes accidentally got extended into five years of overtime? Trust me, boys, you’ve had more than your share of lucky breaks. So quit whining, take that good, steady job at your dad’s car dealership and fuck off already to your well-deserved oblivion. (Gee, I hope this doesn’t mean we can’t still be MySpace friends. I was gonna send an invite to Wilco, but those guys are so gay. They don’t even know the difference between eye shadow and mascara.)

David Kemper