Israel is the sinister, unclean, rabid dog of the region…. The Zionist regime is doomed to oblivion…. [The] leaders of the Zionist regime… look like beasts and…cannot be called human.
Those words were spoken on November 20 by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, to a huge gathering of militiamen. They didn’t stop the P5+1 countries—the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China, plus Germany—from signing a nuclear deal with Khamenei’s representatives three days later in Geneva.
Undoubtedly, such words from Iranian leaders are hardly something new. (You can find lengthy backlogs here and here.) The destruction of Israel is an official, explicit goal of the Iranian regime, and has been since it rose to power in 1979.
The then-leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, portrayed Israel in his book Velayat-e faqih (also known as Islamic Government) as a mortal threat to Islam, the latest incarnation of a Jewish campaign against Islam dating back to the time of Muhammad. “This regime occupying Jerusalem,” he proclaimed, “must vanish from the page of time.”
The Iranian regime’s Jew-hatred has deep roots in Shiite Islam, which regards Jews as ritually unclean. In Iranian (Persian) history Jews were at various times forced to wear badges (centuries before the Nazis instituted that practice), expelled from cities, forced to convert to Islam, and so on. In the mid-19th century, the historian and traveler J. J. Benjamin wrote about Persian Jews:
…they are obliged to live in a separate part of town…; for they are considered as unclean creatures…. Under the pretext of their being unclean, they are treated with the greatest severity and should they enter a street, inhabited by Mussulmans, they are pelted by the boys and mobs with stones and dirt…. For the same reason, they are prohibited to go out when it rains; for it is said the rain would wash dirt off them, which would sully the feet of the Mussulmans…. Sometimes the Persians intrude into the dwellings of the Jews and take possession of whatever please them. Should the owner make the least opposition in defense of his property, he incurs the danger of atoning for it with his life…. (quoted in Bernard Lewis’s The Jews of Islam)
For the current regime in Tehran, Israel is the unclean “Jew” of the Middle East, and the only fitting treatment is to excise it. A little over a year ago Khamenei called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and the Muslim world’s gravest problem.
This is, of course, of concern to Israel, if not to heads of the world’s leading democracies.
Tehran does not just verbally attack the Jewish state and Jews generally. It acts on its words and ideology, conducting a worldwide terror campaign usually with involvement by its proxy and contract killer, the Lebanese-based Hizballah organization.
In July last year, a Hizballah operative killed five Israeli tourists, a Bulgarian bus driver, and himself in a suicide bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria. It was the most “successful” of a wave of attempted Iranian-Hizballah attacks on Israeli civilian targets in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus, and elsewhere.
Iran incurs no penalty for these flagrant attempts to murder men, women, and children of another country. True, until recently Iran was under a tough sanctions regime, but the sanctions were imposed—commendably, of course—for its nuclear-weapons program. Before that Iran—genocidal threats, murderous attacks, nuclear program and all—enjoyed booming trade relations with most of the world’s major democracies, particularly Germany.
The regime’s largest-scale attacks so far against Jewish targets occurred in Buenos Aires in the 1990s. In 1992, a suicide-bombing attack on the Israeli embassy in that city killed 29 civilians and injured 242. The penalty? In 1998 Argentina expelled seven Iranian diplomats, saying it had “convincing proof” that Iran was involved in the attack.
Then in 1994, two years after the embassy bombing, Iran-Hizballah attacked the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires with a van “loaded with about 275 kilograms (606 lb) of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil explosive mixture.” The 85 dead were mostly Jewish, and some non-Jewish, Argentine civilians; 300 people were injured. In 2006, Argentine prosecutors formally accused Iran of directing the attack and Hizballah of carrying it out. But no one has ever been prosecuted for it.
Indeed, involvement in such attacks is a good credential in Iran. Among individuals who were charged with responsibility for the AMIA attack, Ahmed Vahidi served as Iran’s defense minister from 2009 till August this year. Mohsen Rezaee was a presidential candidate this year and received four million votes. So was Ali Akbar Velayati, who received 2.5 million votes.
As for the winner of that contest, current president and purported “moderate” Hassan Rouhani, the Washington Free Beacon reported that he was on the government committee that planned the AMIA attack. It didn’t detract from his “charm.”
If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, …application of an atomic bomb would not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world.
That call for Israel’s nuclear annihilation was issued in 2001 by Hashemi Rafsanjani, a cleric who was president of Iran from 1989 to 1997 (and was also charged by Argentina in the AMIA attack).
The regime that wants to wipe Israel off the map has, not surprisingly, an obsession with the Holocaust, which it claims did not occur. Holocaust deniers think the Nazi genocide creates too much sympathy for Jews and, hence, obstacles on the path to a further genocide.
For previous president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of course, Holocaust denial was a major theme and, he said after stepping down, the greatest achievement of his presidency. At the same time, Ahmadinejad frequently and publicly called for Israel’s destruction—a form of genocidal incitement that is illegal under international law. But attempts to get Ahmadinejad prosecuted (here and here, for example) went nowhere; instead he became a star of the talk show circuit.
It was under Ahmadinejad’s presidency that the Iranian Culture Ministry, in 2006, sponsored a Holocaust-cartoon contest. At the end of that year, in December, Iran’s Foreign Ministry held a follow-up event, a Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran. Speakers included professional creeps like David Duke, Robert Faurisson, Gerald Frederick Toben, and, for good measure, two “rabbis” from the radically anti-Israeli Jewish sect Neturei Karta.
Ahmadinejad himself addressed the event and said:
Thanks to people’s wishes and God’s will…the Zionist regime is [headed] downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want….
Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out.
From there Ahmadinejad moved on to a lecture at Columbia, TV interviews with Piers Morgan of CNN, Christiane Amanpour of ABC, Ann Curry of NBC, and others, and general celebrity status.
This series has featured individual antisemites like Hitler-and-Himmler-worshipper David Irving, rock star Roger Waters, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Sunni Arab genocide preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi; neo-Nazi parties in European parliaments—Greece’s Golden Dawn and Hungary’s Jobbik; two Israel- and Jews-defaming British media outlets, The Guardian and the BBC; and the Palestinian Authority, Israel’s neighbor that inculcates murderous hatred in its population and ensures strife for generations.
None of these, however, compares with the ayatollahs’ regime in Iran. The ease with which it plays the West, sending the mass-murderer Rouhani on a successful “charm offensive,” attaining a gravely flawed nuclear deal, is not encouraging to us in Israel.
So soon after Hitler and the Nazis, though, it is not surprising that the virus has caught on somewhere else. This time the Jews are not just defenseless masses of civilians.