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.
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.