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Juan Cole on distinguishing between anti-Zionism and antisemitism

In his recent speech to the UN General Assembly, Iran’s President Ahmadinejad declared:

The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a minuscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.

To which Barack Obama responded:

I strongly condemn President Ahmadinejad’s outrageous remarks at the United Nations, and am disappointed that he had a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views. The threat from Iran’s nuclear program is grave. Now is the time for Americans to unite on behalf of the strong sanctions that are needed to increase pressure on the Iranian regime.

Writing at Salon.com, Middle East “expert” Juan Cole says Obama went overboard.

In the heat of the campaign, Obama surely overreached himself in appearing to advocate barring leaders of member states from addressing the United Nations because their views are obnoxious to Americans. He also fell into the trap of declining to make a distinction between anti-Zionist views and anti-Semitic ones.

So Cole would have us believe that when Ahmadinejad spoke about “a small but deceitful number of people dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers,” he was only referring to Zionists.

What can you say?

(Hat tip: Adam Holland)