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Israel Describes Iranian President's UN Speech as Anti-Semitism


Israel has reacted angrily to the United Nations speech of the president of Iran, who lashed out at Jews and the Jewish state. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.

Israeli officials are describing the speech by Iran's president at the U.N. General Assembly Tuesday as a notorious manifestation of anti-Semitism. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad referred to "deceitful" Zionists who are manipulating Americans and Europeans and who control the world's financial system.

Officials here say it is reminiscent of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"- an anti-Semitic book from the early 1900s that described a Jewish plot to take over the world.

Right-wing Israeli parliamentarian Avigdor Lieberman is a former Cabinet minister who coordinated strategy on Iran.

"Ahmadinijad is not hiding his intentions," Lieberman told Israel Radio, and "Israel must take the necessary steps" to stop him. Lieberman was asked if that means Israel might launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"There is a full menu of options and proposals," he said, adding that he could not discuss them on the radio. He said it is better not to talk but to act.

Israel has grown increasingly alarmed about Iran's nuclear program since 2005, when President Ahmadinejad threatened to wipe the Jewish state "off the map." Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Israel is convinced that Tehran is developing atomic weapons.

Israeli officials have repeatedly warned that there is a military option. And Mr. Ahmadinejad's U.N. speech has added to the sense of urgency here that Iran must be stopped before it is too late.

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