Maybe it's his repeated warnings that Israel will one day be destroyed. Or the fact that he has called Israel a "tumor" and suggested Germany cede land for a Jewish nation if they feel so bad about the Holocaust. Or maybe it is his assertion that the Holocaust is a "myth."
Iran's push to advance its nuclear program in defiance of international pressure certainly hasn't made anyone in Israel feel especially warm-and-cozy about Ahmadinejad either.
But now there is new reason for Israelis to take heart!
Speaking to reporters in Tehran, Ahmadinejad said he has nothing against Israelis - just Israel.
“We are opposed to the idea that the people who live there should be thrown into the sea or be burnt,” Ahmadinejad said, according to The New York Times. “We believe that all the people who live there, the Jews, Muslims and Christians, should take part in a free referendum and choose their government.”
Since Ahmadinejad's comments were preceded by remarks by Iran's vice president of tourism (Esfandiar Rahim Mashai) that Iran was "a friend of Israeli people," and since Ahmadinejad reportedly defended Mashai at the news conference, The New York Times took the Iranian president's statement as something significant.
"Analysts viewed Mr. Ahmadinejad’s public support for Mr. Mashai’s remarks as a sign that Iran might be softening its position amid increasing pressure by the West over its nuclear program," the NYT article stated.
“It looks like the remarks are a policy,” Saeed Leylaz, a political analyst in Tehran, told the paper. “Despite the opposition, they were repeated, no apology was made and the president supported it today.”
Interestingly, it appears that the NYT was the only major publication to focus on Ahmadinejad's "friend of the Israelis" support.
The Associated Press: TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at Israel on Thursday, saying the Jewish state would not survive, even if it gave up land for a Palestinian state.
Bloomberg reported that "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the power of the U.S. is waning and the state of Israel will fail."
In the AP story, the reporter took Ahmadinejad's comments on Israel as a sign that he was trying to distance himself from Mashai's comments.
The AP was more focused on Ahmadinejad's suggestion that Israel's days were numbered:
"I have heard some say the idea of Greater Israel has expired," Ahmadinejad said. "I say that the idea of lesser Israel has expired, too."
At the end of the day, I'm not sure many Israeli's will find much solace in the Iranian president's kiss-kiss of support...
UPDATE: It looks like we won't be seeing Ahmadinejad wearing an "I (heart) Israelis" shirt any time soon...
One day after Ahmadinejad made his comments, Iran's most influential religious leader made it clear that his nation was no friend of Israel - or Israelis.
"Who are Israelis?" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told thousands of worshippers gathered for Friday prayers in downtown Tehran. "They are responsible for usurping houses, territory, farmlands and businesses. They are combatants at the disposal of Zionist operatives. A Muslim nation cannot remain indifferent vis-a-vis such people who are stooges at the service of the arch-foes of the Muslim world."
Instead of being friends, Khamenei said Iran and Israel were on a "collision course," something that is pretty clear to anyone watching political developments in the Middle East...