To justify my title as Iran specialist, I guess I must address Netanyahu’s UN speech. Bibi’s prop for this year’s speech was Khamenei’s book “Palestine”. He did some major PR for the book, but he had a few mistakes: it’s not new, and it doesn’t say “we will destroy Israel”. But it does predict and wish for the destruction of the State of Israel.
A few years ago, a young Iranian I met in Europe asked me what I think about the enmity between our countries. My answer was that the people and the nations are not enemies. It’s only the governments who are enemies, because an enemy, the scarier the better, helps you control the people and stay in power. They need each other.
First of all, let’s see what Netanyahu said about the book (it’s just a few seconds, then he goes on):
(I listened to the whole speech until this point, and every time he said a name that has the letter h (ح), I shuddered at the Polish accent: Khasan Rukhani etc.)
This is the book’s page on Khamenei’s website. Notice the odd choice of colors for the website. Not red, white and green as one would expect, but…
You can find the full text here, but you’d better polish up your Persian first.
So how accurate were we this time?
Yes, it’s called Palestine. Yes, it discusses the destruction of Israel. The last paragraph of the foreword reads:
According to his righteous promise, the liberation of Palestine and the destruction of Israel will surely be a reality. I hope that we will also live to see that golden day, and pray for his Imamship in Jerusalem.
No, it wasn’t published a few days after the agreements were signed. It was published in fall 2011. It’s not his latest book (that would be this book, and there are about 20 books in between).
In case you’re wondering how the leader is so prolific and when he has time to write these books — there’s a whole office that deals with gathering, collecting and printing everything he says. For example, the sub-section dealing with the timing of the destruction of Israel — relatively long (a whole page!) and packed with future tense, which serves to express utter certainty — is actually a transcript of his talk with Palestinian Jihad leaders in a conference about Gaza on February 27th, 2010. In it, he’s not as specific as to say “25 years”. He says “10, 20, 30 years — but it will happen”. And nowhere does he say Iran will annihilate Israel. He says Israel will disappear, and describes how the Palestinians would do it. Peacefully.
And now, for your reading pleasure, I’m translating the section about the difference between Zionists and Jews (p. 113):
An out-of-nowhere state; a fake state; a false nation. They gathered evil people from the corners of the earth and created an amalgam named “Israel”! Is this a nation?! Wherever there were evil and vicious Jews, they gathered there. There are Jews in most countries, living their lives. There are also Jews in our country, living their lives — they don’t mess with anyone, and nobody messes with them. It is their country, and they live in it. Those who went to the occupied territories [= Israel, TEG] were the vicious, the evil, the greedy, the thieves, the murderers, who gathered from everywhere in the world. And this became a nation?! A nation and state that came into being this way and named itself Israel, has no way but the way of terrorism; There’s not much to say about it. Then, such creatures, with their baseness, vileness and filthiness, want to make a glorious, proud and beloved state and nation like Iran guilty in world public opinion. They themselves are more guilty than everyone, more criminal and more disgraceful.
In case you were wondering, it’s from a meeting with security, government and academics from 1994. Before Netanyahu.
We all know the IRI narrative “we are against the Zionists, not against the Jews”. Oh really?
Before I go further, I want to stress that antisemitism, like anti-Zionism, is mostly a thing of the government and some people who have been successfully brainwashed. Most Iranians don’t really care about Israel and are perfectly OK with their Jewish neighbors. There’s more hatred toward Palestine, for purely economic reasons: tax and oil money goes there (and to Lebanon, Syria and Yemen) instead of being invested inside the country.
Back to antisemitism: there was a wonderful article a few months ago on Alef, a right-wing website, about the Jews (not the Zionists!) being “the most bloodthirsty nation in human history”. The two proofs, besides what Israel is doing in the territories, are the sucking of the baby’s blood during circumcision, and the pastry we make with the blood of non-Jewish children on Passover. Yes, the protocols of the elders of Zion rule!
Another event, about four years ago, was the demonstration in front of the Esther and Mordechai mausoleum in Hamedan. The flag of Israel that was burnt there bore the words “Holocaust of 77,000 Iranians.” The story that was told in the sites and blogs organizing the demonstration, said the first genocide in human history was when Esther and Mordechai killed 77,000 Iranians. This sentence itself is inaccurate in five different ways.
Other websites said the Jews call this holiday “the festival of killing the Iranians,” that hamantaschen were originally made with non-Jewish children’s blood, and more things that the audience in my lectures find hilarious, but I find troubling. This, in part, is the reason why I want the Persian edition of my very own The Book of Esther Unmasked to be free on the web. Another reason is that the sanctions have not been lifted yet, and Iranians living inside Iran can’t make international payments. Like the Supreme Leader, I also base my books on my lectures over the past 18 years, but unlike him I don’t have government funds to support such undertakings, so I’m crowdfunding it. Perks include books and lectures in English, Hebrew and Persian, and T-shirts in Old Persian cuneiform…
I still owe you this: “In 25 years Israel will not exist” (as if in Israel nobody prays, wishes and predicts the liberation of Iran from the Mollas). Where is this number from? Well, that’s a very recent speech, from September 2015. Here’s one of the newspaper headlines: “In 25 years, Israel will not exist”.
And this is the full sentence:
Some Zionists have been saying, about the results of the nuclear talks, “our worries about Iran have been relieved, but [only] for the next 25 years”. But we say to them: you won’t even see ’25 years from now’, because, with the grace of God, there will not be a thing called ‘the Zionist regime’ in the region.
He didn’t say Iran will do it. He never does.
Thamar E. Gindin is a faculty member in Shalem College in Jerusalem, researcher at the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf center in Haifa University, lecturer, and author of The Good, the Bad and the World, a Journey to Pre-Islamic Iran (Hebrew) and The Book of Esther, Unmasked (Hebrew, English and Persian).