To: Website viewers
From: Peter Signorelli
Re: Iran President Khatami's New York Times interview
Maybe because it appeared on a Saturday, the sensational NYT interview with Iran's President Seyed Mohammad Khatami got almost zero attention in the rest of the news media. The front-page story itself blew us away, as Khatami announced Iranís willingness to accept a permanent state of Israel, giving the Palestinian Authority his nationís blank check to negotiate an agreement. The Times posted the complete interview on the Internet, and it is even better. The nationís editors, print and electronic, should be embarrassed for missing this story. We link below to the interview and highly recommend that you read Khatamiís world-historic remarks.
Why sensational? Khatami rejects the so-called "Clash of Civilizations" thesis that foretold a new war between the Judeo-Christian West and the Islamic East. It was upon his initiative as head of the 55-member Islamic International Conference in 1998 that the United Nations set 2001 as the year of Dialogue Among Civilizations. The Iranian president, though, has been so demonized in the media that most who have read the interview find themselves shocked at the lack of resemblance between this leader and the popular impression of him as an enemy of the West, of Christians, and of the U.S. But that is because so much of what he has been consistently saying and doing on behalf of peace, morality and reconciliation goes unreported.
During his historic visit to Italy, the first by any Iranian leader since the revolution of 1979, he met privately with Pope John Paul II and stated that there are no "quintessential differences" among faiths. Both he and the Roman Pontiff agreed on the "primary importance of dialogue between Islam and Christianity," (which when combined represent more than one-third of the world's population). Although president of Iran, Khatami also is a spiritual leader of exceptional integrity and stature. He shares with Pope John Paul II a fervid commitment to the integrity of the human person, and cites the "valuable teachings of Jesus Christ, the son of Mary" and all divine prophets as representative of "a new approach toward releasing man and society" from a past century "full of uproar, violence and selfishness." He is in full accord with the Pontiff's call for a new Civilization of Love.
Just prior to his trip to the United Nations last week, Khatami phoned Pope John Paul II to discuss with him cooperation in an all-out campaign against terrorism "based on divine values" so that peace and love may replace war, discrimination and poverty. Terrorists, he emphasizes, have nothing to do with divine religions, as he makes clear in the interview with his blistering condemnation of those who seek to promote the Clash of Civilizations. Thus far, some media dismiss his remarks as "nothing new," faulting him for not condemning "Palestinian terrorists" -- despite the fact that he goes on record supporting Israel's right to exist. This is certainly a case of preferring to curse the darkness rather than respond to the light from the Khatami initiative.