By Aykan Erdemir
Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, the clerical regime has observed the last Friday of the month of Ramadan as International Quds (i.e. Jerusalem) Day, using it as an opportunity to spread antisemitic hate, incite violence against the Jewish people, and call for the destruction of the State of Israel.
Last year, for example, the main English-language Twitter account attributed to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (@khamenei_ir) repeatedly posted antisemitic tweets denigrating both the Jewish people and Jewish Israelis, prompting calls for suspending him from the social media platform.
In the run-up to and on Quds Day, observed on April 29 this year, a wide array of Iranian officials once again used the opportunity not only to spew antisemitic hate but also to incite violence against the Jewish people and Israel.
Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – a U.S.-designated terrorist entity that Tehran expects Washington to delist as part of the nuclear talks held in Vienna – was at the forefront of the regime’s Quds Day incitement.
Three days before Quds Day, Mehdi Taeb, the head of the IRGC-affiliated think tank Ammar Headquarters, denied the Holocaust on the “Non-Stop” program aired on Iran’s state-run Channel 3, saying that there was no real antisemitism in Nazi Germany.
A day before Quds Day, Mohammad-Hadi Sahraei, the head of the Media Organization of the IRGC’s Basij paramilitary forces in the Kermanshah province, published an antisemitic op-ed praising Hitler in the Kayhan newspaper controlled by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In his piece, Sahraei wrote, “the logic that Hitler showed by expelling them [Jews] from Germany is that he is smarter and more courageous than all current European leaders.”
On Quds Day, the news agency of the IRGC’s Basij paramilitary forces published antisemitic comments voiced by Ahmad Rasouli, the deputy coordinator of the Representative Office of the Supreme Leader in the Alborz Province. Rasouli said, “We are hostile not only to Israel but also to the Jewish people who believe that Islam should be destroyed.” He continued his incitement by threatening, “the resistance front will wipe the Zionist regime off the map in less than 20 years, as promised by the Supreme Leader.”
The same day, Abdullah Haji-Sadeghi, Supreme Leader Khamenei’s representative in the IRGC, said, “In the time of the Prophet of Islam, the greatest evil and sedition was committed by this Jewish minority against Islam.” He then made threats: “Thanks to you and the resistance forces, the Zionists will not see their 80th birthday.”
The statement the IRGC issued on Quds Day leaves no doubt as to the genocidal ambitions of the Islamic Republic’s global terrorist network. The day before Quds Day, the IRGC claimed, “Tel Aviv is in its last days and the usurpers of Holy Quds are rapidly approaching their final decline and end.” The terrorist-designated organization also stated that the fulfillment of Ayatollah Khomeini’s slogan of “wiping Israel from the world” has become “more imminent than ever.” The IRGC concluded its genocidal threats by stating that “the destruction of Israel as a cancerous tumor will soon become the first news in the world media.”
The Islamic Republic’s antisemitic incitement is not limited to IRGC officials and ranges from politicians to members of the clergy.
Hossein-Ali Haji Daligani, a member of the Presidium of the Islamic Republic Parliament, said “the Zionist regime is on the verge of destruction” and “has accepted that it will not exist on the planet in 21 years.” He added that Israeli officials are trying to prevent the “definitive fall of the regime” but “will not succeed.”
Imam Yusuf Tabatabai-Nejad, the Friday imam of Isfahan, who has a history of “religiously-charged incitements to violence,” used the Quds Day sermon on April 29 to preach that “the Jews and the Israelites are the dumbest creatures of God, so Britain and the United States use them to spy.” He then incited violence against what he referred to as “these extremely ignorant and coward people” by saying “we hope that the root of this cancerous gland will be eradicated.”
Statements by Islamic Republic officials, and particularly by a wide array of IRGC leaders, are a grim reminder of the antisemitic hate and genocidal ambitions that are at the core of the regime’s ideology. The IRGC’s history of terror attacks targeting innocent civilians around the world, antisemitic hate, and genocidal threats were behind a statement ADL’s Task Force on Middle East Minorities issued last month. The Task Force, which is co-chaired by ADL Senior Vice President for International Affairs Dr. Sharon Nazarian and brings together preeminent experts on and advocates for the Middle East’s vulnerable communities, echoed many other experts and advocates around the world in calling the U.S. government to keep the IRGC’s terrorist designation.
The IRGC’s blatant propagation of antisemitic hate, incitement of violence against the Jewish people, and genocidal calls for the destruction of the Jewish state should strengthen Washington’s resolve not to concede to Tehran’s pressures to delist the IRGC. Furthermore, the IRGC’s hate-filled Quds Day should be a wakeup call for U.S. allies and prompt them to follow Washington’s lead in designating the IRGC.