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July 1, 2016

Iranian Commemoration of Al-Quds Day Includes Anti-Semitic and Harsh Anti-Israel Expressions

Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day, which takes place on the last Friday of Ramadan, was initiated in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic revolution in Iran, as a show of solidarity with the Palestinians and to assert the Islamic claim over Jerusalem. While events are held around the world, in Iran, it is often marked by a hateful demonstration of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment, manifest in government organized rallies and other activities. Before this years’ Al Quds day (July 1), Iran’s leadership rallied the country.  Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei called its commemoration and support for the oppressed Palestinians an important religious duty.

The Islamic Propagation Coordination Council in a statement called for widespread participation in Quds Day demonstrations and asked them to repeat the same slogans “Death to America, Death to Israel and Death to international Zionism and Imperialism.” It was reported that in one Quds Day demonstration, placards were held up which called for Israel’s destruction by the year 2040, and people chanting “Death to America” threw stones at a mock Statue of Liberty. In advance of Al Quds day, Iran’s Fars news agency published a wave of harsh anti-Semitic and anti-Israel cartoons, some with classical anti-Semitic themes, such as Jewish world domination, depicting the world under the control of a Jewish/Israeli octopus, worm or spider:

Others are of a more anti-Israel nature, yet similarly conspiratorial in that they imply Israel is a part of a broader, if not global, U.S. plot. One depicts Israel as a dog operated by the U.S. against Gaza, while another shows the U.S. and an Arab figure – most probably representing the Saudi royal family who are bitter rivals of the Islamic Republic – forming together a Star of David, as though they are working in the service of Israel and the Jews.

Other cartoons depict an Israel on the verge of destruction.  One depicts an Israeli figure running away just before a dam with a Star of David collapses, as a result of a mass of people, with the caption “Death to Israel”. Another cartoon shows an Israeli soldier drowning in blood represented by the red part of the Palestinian flag.

Other cartoons demonize Israel by deforming the appearances of an Israeli soldier shown with satanic ears and with teeth shaped like nuclear missiles, while another of former Israeli president Shimon Peres depicts him as a demonic figure.

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February 11, 2014

35 Years after the Iranian Revolution, Concerns of Middle Eastern Stability Remain

February 11 marks 35 years since the fall of the Shah of Iran and the rise of Ayatollah Khomeni’s Islamic Republic of Iran.  Looking back at the Jewish community’s public statements from the time, it is striking how many of the concerns expressed about the region-wide implications of the Iranian Revolution are still relevant today.

Ayatollah Khomeini

Ayatollah Khomeini

In an op-ed published in January 1979, the Anti-Defamation League examined the impact of the Iranian crisis on Israel and the West at a moment when it was unclear who would govern Iran: a fundamentalist Islamic government, right-wing military rule or a leftist-Communist oriented regime.

Not unlike the sentiment expressed following the fall of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak in 2011, in 1979 there was great fear of the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States to a similar revolution. Should that happen, ADL wrote, “the fate of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman would most likely be sealed if the Shah is deposed and if Saudi Arabia experiences similar troubles.”

And as today, when analysts and even some Middle East leaders have accused Washington of misreading and misplaying regional developments in Iran, Syria, Egypt and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, ADL criticized the longstanding U.S. policy which relied on the stability of Saudi Arabia and Iran:


“The assumption has been that if Saudi Arabia and Iran were heavily armed with both U.S. political support and American-made weapons, they could withstand any and all attempts at overthrow and invasion by neighboring Soviet-backed enemies of by internal radical insurrectionists. As the Shah loses his grip over Iran, the reasoning behind America’s Persian Gulf policy appears to have been specious.”


In a line which could easily have been written during any point over the past 35 years, our op-ed posited:  “In an era that is experiencing a rise in radicalism and instability, Israel is the only stable nation.  If, as some Administration and State Department officials acknowledged recently, American intelligence had misread and underestimated the threat to the Shah, could it be that it is misreading the current situation of the Saudi royal family or underestimating Israel’s strategic importance?”

Even as we enter an era of growing energy independence in the U.S. and rising hopes about significant Israeli fuel sources, the strategic implications of a shut-off of Middle Eastern oil still leads to great global anxiety. In 1979, the specter of losing Iranian oil was a calamity for the West and Israel. As we wrote: “Twelve percent of American foreign oil imports and five percent of its total consumption are Iranian.  The figure for Western Europe and Japan are even more imposing: 16% of oil consumption in Japan is from Iranian oil fields, 15% in Italy, 14% in Britain, 11% in West Germany and 10% in Canada.  And for Israel, the figures go even higher – fully 60-80% of Israel’s oil comes from Iran.”

Most tragically, our op-ed highlighted fears for the welfare of the venerable Jewish community of Iran, which then numbered over 80,000:  “While some Moslem religious leaders have issued statements assuring Iranian Jewry that they would be able to live as a ‘protected minority’ under an ‘Islamic Republic,’ it is clear that any change in government would raise questions about the future viability of a community that dates back 25 centuries…Recent revelations about anti-Semitic speeches delivered by Khomeini in Iraq have only served to confirm Iranian Jewry’s apprehension about living under an ‘Islamic republic.’”

Today, with a fraction of that community remaining in Iran, Jews worldwide still worry about their security and well-being.

Thirty-five years ago, Iran’s nuclear weapons program, its sponsorship of international terrorism, and support for the perpetuation of the brutal Assad regime in Syria weren’t quite on the radar screen.  Yet it is striking that Iran and the region’s instability and unpredictability remained a constant over the years.


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August 2, 2013

Iranian Regime Amps Up Anti-Zionist Rhetoric For Al Quds Day Protests

Hassan Rouhani, president-elect of Iran, while viewed by many as a “moderate” leader willing to work with the West, is a life-long regime insider. However, Rouhani’s election apparently does not signify any change in the regime’s antagonism toward Israel and the West. khamenei-facebook-al-quds

This fact has been plainly presented this week in the run up to International Al Quds (Jerusalem) Day, a day of protest against Israel first established by the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Throughout the course of the week, state leaders and officials have made a series of hostile and threatening remarks against the Jewish state, which have also been echoed in state-run newspapers and social media.

The following are some examples of anti-Israel rhetoric made by Iranian government officials and newspapers leading up to this Friday’s Al Quds Day demonstrations:

  • In an August 1 interview with the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Hossein Naqavi-Hosseini, the spokesman for the Parliamentary National Security and Policy Committee, called upon all Muslim nations to “support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian nation and to fight this cancerous tumor [Israel] that’s in the Islamic world.”
  • State-run newspapers on Thursday featured Jerusalem Day articles and op-eds denouncing Israel and Israeli policies. An article published in Kayhan, the official mouthpiece of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed that the Arab Spring, dubbed the Islamic Awakening by Iran’s leaders, has ended “the dream of America and the Zionists of creating ‘Greater Israel’ from the Nile to the Euphrates.”
  • A pre-Jerusalem Day post on the official Facebook page of Ayatollah Khamenei called on supporters to “defeat the enemy & force it to retreat” by participating in demonstrations. The post was accompanied by a graphic accusing Israel of committing genocide and infanticide.
  • In a July 31 interview with Fars News Agency, Ramazan Sharif, the head of the Council of Islamic Propaganda and Al Quds Intifada, said that Iran supports all “Palestinian jihadi resistance movements,” and that there will be no regional peace and security so long as the “usurping Zionist regime is present in the region.”

During last year’s Jerusalem Day protests, Iran’s Supreme Leader and several government officials openly called for the Israel’s annihilation.

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