Last week, Fareed Zakaria interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. Here's a transcript of Ahmadinejad on Israel, Zionism and Iran's pre-Islamic past:
Fareed Zakaria: Your chief of staff has spoken a great deal about Iran's pre-Islamic past and said that Iran should be proud of it. Are you proud of Iran's pre-Islamic history?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (through translator): We're always proud of our history. Iran has always been the center of friendship and civilization.
Fareed Zakaria: Your chief of staff has also said that Iran is friendly towards all peoples of the world, including the Israelis. Do you believe Iran should be friendly to the Israeli people?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: People everywhere, ordinary people, what problems do they have? From the very beginning, we're against Zionists. Zionists are neither Christians nor Jewish. They have no religion. Religion is wealth and money.
Fareed Zakaria: But what do you mean by that? Every person in Israel is by definition a Zionist because they believe in a state for the Jewish people.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (through translator): No, no. Zionism is a complicated and terrible party. And to most they have 10,000 members, and 2,000 main members.
Fareed Zakaria: What does it mean to you? So what does Zionism mean? The rest – you say only 10,000 people in Israel are Zionists?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (through translator): No, I don't say they are all there. Some of them are in Europe, some of them are in the United States, and it constitutes a racist group and they consider themselves superior to others.
Fareed Zakaria: But you think most Israelis are not Zionists in the sense you mean it?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (through translator): There's a large number of people who were brought from other countries. They had no job. No house. And they were promised to have jobs and housing. Recently we saw a few hundred, thousands of people stage a demonstration against the Zionists. And if the Zionists allow, we can see them in stations everywhere there.
Fareed Zakaria: So it sounds like you're saying that Iran could have peaceful relations with Israel if it adopted policies that you appreciate?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Zionists should go away and they should allow people to choose themselves. If the people of Palestine have the right for self determination, that will be fine. But the Palestinian people have been denied the right to self determination. That is clear.
The regime has been created to dominate the region. Because the regime has been created to secure the interests of some people in the United States and in Europe.