1. Iranian media and spokesmen continue to demonize Israel, accusing it of complicity with the West in plotting against Iran. The so-called plots pertain both to Iran ‘s internal affairs (such as the recent post-election protests) and to its regional relations (the encirclement of Iran ). To support that propaganda line, Iran ‘s media uses false, fabricated information-for example, accusing Israel of encouraging Jews to emigrate to Iraqi Kurdistan as part of its goal to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. At the same time, Iranian spokesmen and media kept encouraging the Palestinians to destroy Israel (“the Zionist regime”) and to continue carrying out terrorist activities against it (“resistance”), saying that the Palestinian people had nothing to gain from the peace process.
2. In June and early July, despite the vigorous efforts to suppress the wave of protest over the parliament election, Iran paid considerable attention to Israel and various developments pertaining to it. Among the main issues addressed by Iranian media and spokesmen: accusations of the West and Israel of meddling in Iran’s internal affairs; the threat posed by Israel to Iran’s national security; the effect of the “Zionist lobby” in the US on shaping President Obama’s policy towards Iran; threats concerning a possible Israeli assault on Iran (an issue brought up by the US vice president); Iran’s continuing commitment to help the Palestinians and lead those who oppose the plans and schemes “concocted” against them by the West and pro-Western Arab countries.
3. Iranian media portrayed Israel as one of the countries which fanned the protests that broke out in Iran following the election. Iran claimed that, alongside Britain, US, and the West, Israel was involved in sparking and encouraging the protests in Iran, extensively covering statements made by the regime’s critics, and Mir-Hossein Moussavi in particular. In an effort to disparage the protest movement, Iran ‘s chief of staff said that weapons manufactured by Israel, the US, and Britain were used by the protesters.
4. Following President Obama’s outspoken remarks over the Iranian protest wave, sentiments that Obama continues the previous administration’s policy under the pressure of the “Zionist Jewish lobby” are becoming increasingly heard in Iran. Iranian spokesmen called Obama to come back to his original policy so that his presidential term does not end on such a disgraceful note as that of his predecessor’s. A statement made by the US vice president about a possible Israeli attack on Iran was answered by the supreme leader’s advisor on international strategic affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, who said that the idea of an Israeli attack on Iran was ridiculous while also issuing a threat: “No one will be safe in the Middle East if Iran is attacked”.
5. The Israeli president’s visit to Azerbaijan, a neighboring country viewed by Iran as its back yard, was cause for deep concern with the Iranian regime. Iran recalled its ambassador to Azerbaijan in an act of protest and the media associated with the conservative bloc noted that Israel was increasing its influence in Central Asia in an attempt to contain Iran and actually “turned Azerbaijan into a war theater against Iran “. However, the Iranians remained conspicuously silent when, according to Azeri reports, a Hezbollah terrorist cell operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards was exposed in Baku.
6. With regard to the Palestinian issue, Iran continues to position itself as a leader of the struggle for the realization of Palestinian rights, based on supporting the “resistance” (terrorism) and ruling out the peace process. Iran ‘s president said that in his second tenure he would take more decisive action on the regional and international scene, while Ali Akbar Velayati stressed that ” Iran will always have the last say on Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq “.
Details of Iranian references to Israel on various issues
Accusing the West and Israel of encouraging the reformist bloc
7. The Iranian regime claimed that foreign parties meddled in Iran ‘s internal affairs during the pre-election period in order to strengthen the reformist bloc. The use of that claim increased as protests broke out when the election’s results became known. To defame Ahmadinejad’s opponents, the president’s supporters repeatedly accused Western and “Zionist” media of fanning violence, coordinating the protests from control rooms supposedly established in Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s election headquarters, and even of murdering Neda Agha Soltani, a young woman who became the symbol of the struggle. Following are some examples of such Iranian propaganda:
1.. Claiming that the Israeli Foreign Ministry enthusiastically welcomes “Moussavi’s inciting behavior”: IRNA, Iran ‘s official news agency, cited an article written by Menashe Amir, which was published on the official website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which allegedly enthusiastically welcomes Mir-Hossein Moussavi’s inciting and inflammatory measures in the post-election period. 2
2.. The Israeli Foreign Ministry quoting a cleric who opposes the regime: the Iranian newspaper Javan referred its readers to the headline of the Israeli Foreign Ministry website, citing Ayatollah Sane’i’s criticism of the Iranian regime. Javan is an ultra-conservative newspaper associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The publication is meant to defame Sane’i in Iran, portraying him as being associated with Israel and a collaborator with an attempt to spark a “velvet revolution” following the elections. 3
3.. Claiming that Israel is waging psychological warfare with Saudi assistance: the political editor of the Ghods newspaper claims that the “Zionist regime”, assisted by Saudi Arabia, is waging psychological warfare against Iran. Iran accused Saudi media, such as the Al-Arabiyya channel, of presenting a false image of the post-election events in Iran. 4
Claiming that the US policy is influenced by the “Zionist lobby”
8. Ever since Obama became president of the US, he is carefully examined by Iranian spokesmen and media in Iran. Recently, following Obama’s outspoken remarks over the wave of protest and Vice President Biden’s statement about a possible Israeli attack, sentiments that Obama continues the previous administration’s policy under the pressure of the “Zionist Jewish lobby” are becoming increasingly heard in Iran.
9. Following are some statements made by Iranian leaders and articles on Iranian media about the influence of the “Zionist lobby” on the US policy, also calling on the US president to return to a course of dialogue:
1.. “The Zionist lobby and the Congress have exerted pressure”: Ali Akbar Velayati, Iran ‘s former foreign minister and now the Iranian supreme leader’s advisor on international affairs, addressed the issue of the so-called Israeli influence on the US as it pertained to the Iranian elections on a TV show called “Round Table” aired in Iran on July 8. He said that President Obama attempted to keep a low profile on the elections, but that the Zionist lobby and the US Congress put pressure on him to make (strong anti-Iranian) statements. 5
2.. Calling the US to resume negotiations or be ostracized by the region’s peoples: Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi, Ahmadinejad’s election campaign manager, 6 said that President Obama had first taken a lenient approach with regard to the election results, but that he was then forced by the Zionists and the neo-conservatives to issue harsh statements against Iran. He called Obama to reevaluate his position, thus paving the way for a dialogue between Iran and the US and stepping away from the policy he inherited from President Bush, whose actions caused the peoples of the region to ostracize the US. 7
3.. “[President] Obama between slogans and actions”: an editorial in Jomhuri-ye Eslami titled “Obama’s contradictory policy between actions and slogans” refers to statements made by President Obama and his vice president. According to the article, those statements expose the new administration’s true, hostile face towards Iran, which it made sure to conceal shortly after he was elected. The newspaper argues that a change in the US administration does not necessarily mean a change in the foreign policy, be it concerning Iran or any other issue. The newspaper urges the US to resume “the logical policy which is accepted by the international community instead of submitting to the demands of the Jewish lobby in Washington, if he doesn’t want to leave the White House in shame, like his predecessor”. 8
10. A statement made by US Vice President Joe Biden concerning a possible Israeli attack on Iran was met with threatening messages from Iran:
1.. Regarding a possible Israeli attack, Velayati said in an interview aired on Iranian TV (July 8) as part of a show called “Round Table” that the talk about an Israeli attack in Iran was just propaganda. “The idea of an Israeli attack against Iran is ridiculous,” he said, “no one will be safe in the entire Middle East if Iran is attacked. If one missile is fired at Iran, it will not sit idly by. Attacking Iran is like playing with fire”.
2.. Iran will retaliate “with full force, decisively, and resolutely”: Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of the Iranian Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Policy and National Security, responded to the US vice president during a visit to Japan. He said that Iran would respond firmly to any Israeli attempt to invade it, “with full force, decisively, and resolutely. I believe that the US and Israel are well aware of the potential consequences of such an error in judgment”. 9
Israel ‘s President Peres’s visit to Azerbaijan increases Iran ‘s feeling of encirclement
11. The historical visit of Israel ‘s President Peres to Azerbaijan (June 28-29) aroused a great deal of interest in Iran, at a time where the regime was busy trying to contain the wave of protest following the publication of the election results. Iran is concerned about the West gaining a greater foothold along its northern border, and therefore President Peres’s visit increased Iran ‘s feeling of encirclement. The visit was portrayed by the Iranians as an attempt made by the Azeri government, with the assistance of Israel and the West, to incite Iran ‘s Azeri minority against the regime.
12. Iranian MPs called the government of Azerbaijan to cancel the visit. On the eve of Shimon Peres’s arrival, a demonstration organized by the Iranian regime was held in front of the Azeri consulate in Tehran. Signs carried by the demonstrators read: “We ask the government of Azerbaijan to prevent the coming of Shimon Peres in order to maintain a relationship of peace and brotherhood [with Iran ]”; ” Israel should be erased from the pages of history”. Twenty Iranian MPs, most of them members of the Azeri minority, called on Foreign Minister Mottaki to protest against Peres’s visit to the government of Azerbaijan, claiming that it was opposed to the interests of the Muslim world. 10 Mohammad Baqer Bahrami, Iran ‘s new ambassador in Baku, was recalled to Tehran for consultations in protest against Israel ‘s President Shimon Peres’s visit to Azerbaijan and his “threats” against Iran ; however, he has since returned to Baku. 11
13. TABNAK, a website associated with Mohsen Rezai, the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards and one of the four candidates in Iran ‘s presidential elections, claimed that, despite its best efforts, the Iranian lobby in Azerbaijan failed in its attempt to prevent Shimon Peres’s visit. According to TABNAK, Israel attempts to contain Iranian influence in Central Asia, find substitutes for its oil needs, and new markets for its military industry through non-Arab countries. The website concludes by saying that Azerbaijan has turned into one of Israel ‘s battlefronts against Iran. 12
14. In an article titled “Erdogan would not be enthusiastic about it”, the conservative website ALEF writes that President Peres’s visit to Azerbaijan should not be viewed as an ordinary diplomatic trip. The far reaching defense-related and economic agreements signed in the visit are testimony to the existence of “high-level” bilateral political relations. The website’s political commentator argues that in order to better understand the purposes of the visit, Israel ‘s relations with Azerbaijan should be examined alongside its relations with Turkey. The article claims that Turkey is no longer Israel ‘s strategic ally, as was once believed. The reason for that, according to the article, is “the Zionist regime’s activity to return the Kurdish Jews to [Iraqi] Kurdistan”, which threatens Turkey ‘s national security. Conversely, Azerbaijan, which has enjoyed Turkey ‘s attention in the past several years, has chosen to be an ally of the US and Israel, drifting farther away from Turkey. At any rate, the article argues that the changes taking place throughout regional alliances “are (ultimately) good news for the Iranian foreign policy”. 13
Exposure of a Hezbollah terrorist cell in Azerbaijan – Iran is conspicuously silent
15. About one month before President Peres’s visit to Azerbaijan, a Hezbollah terrorist cell was exposed there. Assisted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, it was planning a terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy in Baku, in retaliation for the killing of Imad Mughniyah. Widely covered on Azeri media, the affair was hardly mentioned on Iranian media, since Iran preferred not to address the cell’s exposure in public (which may reflect the Iranians’ embarrassment over the exposure of their involvement in terrorism). The legal proceedings against the terrorist cell started on July 8 and may once again bring the affair to public attention.
16. According to media reports, the terrorist cell which operated in Baku had 6 terrorists, two of them Lebanese (with Iranian passports) and four Azeri. The Azeri media reported that the cell was planning to attack the Israeli Embassy using several car bombs, and was also planning to attack a Russian radar station. The cell was operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, which is in charge of operations outside of Iran in cooperation with the Lebanese Hezbollah. 14
17. On May 31, the popular Arab newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that during the arrest, Azerbaijan ‘s security forces had seized explosives, goggles, cameras, guns with silencers, and photographs. The newspaper quoted Western elements involved in the investigation who said that the security forces intercepted telephone calls between local terrorist elements and two Hezbollah operatives: Ali al-Karaki, a senior figure in Hezbollah’s foreign terrorist attacks unit, and Ali Najm al-Din, an expert on explosives. The assessment is that the two terrorists, who traveled between Baku, Iran and Lebanon in early 2008, used Iranian passports and constituted the cell responsible for preparing the terrorist attack. Investigation also showed that two Revolutionary Guards leaders were involved in planning the attack.
False information on Kurdish Israeli Jews emigrating to Iraqi Kurdistan
18. As part of the Iranian regime’s false propaganda against Israel, the conservative newspaper Jomhuri-ye Eslami published an editorial titled “Balfour 2”, which warns about Jewish Israelis of Kurdish ancestry emigrating to Iraqi Kurdistan with the support of the US (based on an extensive four-part “investigative article” on that issue recently published in the newspaper). The newspaper calls Iraq to take that Israeli intention seriously and warns that the continued American presence in Iraq, “under the Zionists’ pressure”, is meant to promote Israel ‘s plan to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. Jomhuri-ye Eslami argues that the Jews’ emigration to Iraq also poses a threat to Iran, since the implication of that is that Zionists are moving towards its borders, and calls on the governments of Iraq and Iran to find a “reasonable solution” to that phenomenon. 15
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict: encouraging the Palestinians to continue terrorism, opposition to the peace process, and calling to destroy Israel
19. Iran, which continues to position itself as the leader of those who oppose any political arrangement, accuses the pragmatic and pro-Western Arab countries of ganging up on the Palestinians with Israel and the US. Iran promises that it will continue to support the Palestinians and encourages them to oppose the peace process and continue the “resistance” (i.e., terrorism) against Israel. Prominent examples follow.
1.. Calling on the Palestinians to oppose the peace process and “settle for no less than the destruction of the Zionist regime”: Jomhuri-ye Eslami criticizes the American-Egyptian efforts to establish a Palestinian state, arguing that such a state would be a “Zionist puppet”. It calls on the Palestinians to “settle for no less than the destruction of the Zionist regime”. A Jomhuri-ye Eslami editorial argues that the Palestinian state envisioned by the US and Egypt will have no identity, will, and desire to protect itself, and will never enjoy security, compared to the Zionist regime whose army is equipped with the most advanced weaponry in the world. Jomhuri-ye Eslami claims that the common goal of Hosni Mubarak and Benjamin Netanyahu is to solve the issue of Palestine by establishing a puppet country for the Zionists to control, which is why the Palestinians rejected the initiative. The newspaper calls on the Palestinians to settle for no less than the destruction of the Zionist regime. 16
2.. Claiming that “Palestinians and Arabs have nothing to gain” from the peace process. In an article published on the IRAN DIPLOMACY website, Iran ‘s former ambassador to Jordan, Mohammad Irani, wonders whether Netanyahu has given up his positions. Mohammad Irani believes that while Netanyahu’s latest speech at Bar-Ilan University may at first seem like a withdrawal compared to his past views, it is in practice a step forward. His new position is meant to serve as an escape route from the pressure exerted by the US and Obama. With that initiative, “the head of the Zionist administration has further narrowed the playing field, keeping the Arabs busy formulating a response”. He also said that, as always, Palestinians and Arabs would get nothing. 17
20. Other statements about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict voiced by top Iranian officials:
1.. Iran will have the last say on Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq: Ali Akbar Velayati, the supreme leader’s advisor on international affairs, said as follows: “Some countries in the Middle East mistakenly believe themselves to be better than Iran [referring to the pragmatic Arab camp which supports a political solution in the conflict with Israel], but they must face the fact that Iran will always have the last say on Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq”. 18
2.. Protecting Palestine and other “oppressed nations” is part of the Iranian-Islamic identity: Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said during a visit to Qatar that “protecting oppressed nations, such as Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, is part of the Iranian-Islamic identity. We are proud of the defense we provide to Palestine. Iran does not accept plans put forward by some countries which mock Palestinian rights. Those rights are non-negotiable”. 19
Ahmadinejad continues the Holocaust denial policy
21. “The crumbling of the myth of the Holocaust” in Ahmadinejad’s view: the Presidential Office’s Study and Documentation Institute has recently issued a new book called “The Crumbling of the Myth of the Holocaust”. The book contains Ahmadinejad’s ideas and statements on Palestine, Israel, and the Holocaust. It has eight chapters, including: the purpose behind the establishment of the State of Israel; Iran ‘s duty to protect the Palestinians; and the Zionist struggle in Lebanon and Gaza. 20 It should be mentioned that Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial policy has turned into one of the most controversial issues in the turbulent election campaign held in Iran.
Iranian delegations abandoned conferences and competitions because of Israel ‘s participation
22. A delegation of clerics left an inter-religious conference in Kazakhstan: an Iranian delegation which took place in a world religion leaders’ conference in Kazakhstan left the conference following the arrival of Israeli President Shimon Peres. The delegation was headed by Mostafavi, the Iranian president’s advisor and chairman of the Islamic Culture and Relations organization. In an interview granted to the Fars website, Mostafavi’s advisor denied reports by a “Zionist newspaper” saying that Mostafavi had granted an interview to a Zionist newspaper, claiming that the only interviews he had granted during the visit were to local television. 21
23. The robotics team left an international competition in Austria: the Iranian robotics team came to Austria to take part in an international robotics competition. However, when it was paired against the Israeli team in the first round, the Iranian team decided to forfeit and returned to Iran. 22
1 This new monthly bulletin aims to analyze the way Israel is perceived by Iranian media and key figures.
3 Javan, July 7.
4 Ghods, July 7.
5 Iranian TV, July 8.
6 He has recently been appointed the president’s senior advisor as part of personnel change in Iran following the presidential election.
7 PRESS TV, June 30.
8 Jomhuri-ye Eslami, July 8.
10 Mehr News Agency, June 23.
14 A similar Iranian involvement in Hezbollah’s terrorist activities was exposed in the Jewish community bombing in Buenos Aires, on July 18, 1994. Following the bombing, the Argentinean security service exposed the existence of an extensive Iranian-operated terrorist network in Argentina.
18 Iranian TV, July 8.
19 Mehr News Agency, July 6.