May 21, 2020 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1514

Iranian Regime Marks Qods Day 2020 With Antisemitism, Blood Libels, And Calls For Destruction Of Israel

May 21, 2020 | By A. Savyon and M. Manzour*
Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1514


As it does every year, the Iranian regime is marking Qods Day – Jerusalem Day – on the last Friday of Ramadan, which in 2020 falls on May 22. This year as well, the call for destroying Israel features prominently in statements by regime officials, who announced that the due to the coronavirus Qods Day marches would be presented via the media and there would be no parades in the streets. Also clearly evident again are expressions of antisemitism in statements by regime officials and spokesmen. This report will present several examples of regime calls for the destruction of Israel as the Jewish state that include antisemitism.

These examples include a Qods Day poster signed and shared by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei featuring the Nazi term for eliminating European Jewry – the Final Solution – as well as tweets by him calling for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state, whether by armed resistance or "democratically" via referendum.

Another example is an article by the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan setting out the regime doctrine regarding Zionism and Israel that used the blood libel against Zionists. Its main thrust was the custom of ritual murder. Like Nazi racial doctrine that instilled the notion that the Jews are the enemy of mankind who have taken control of politics, the economy, and culture with their money and stratagems with the aim of running the world, the Iranian regime attributes the same intentions to the Zionists. It depicts the Zionists and the Zionist movement as a racist cult that used Jewish money and force of arms to take over Jerusalem and the Palestinian lands, whose Zionist followers have practiced ritual murder since the dawn of history. It states that "blood flows everywhere they prostrate themselves, and their altar reeks of blood." The article uses the concepts of "Jew" and "Zionist" interchangeably, and claims that the Zionists are not true Jews – a claim originating in Iran's Islamic ideology which is based on religion and rejects the concept of nationality. It accuses the Jews and the Zionists of crucifying Jesus and of currently waging a crusade against Christianity by taking over the political power centers in the West in order to impose their demands and silence Christianity. Adding that they also seek to take over the Islamic lands in the Arabian Peninsula by recruiting the Arab monarchical dynasties in the Gulf to their side against Iran and its Islamic vision, it says that they also fan the flames of war among Muslims, for example in the war in Yemen. The article also says that it was Iran's Islamic Revolution that stopped the "Zionist machine" and that will be the one to liberate humanity from Zionism/the Jews, and calls for continuing the fight against Israel until Jerusalem is liberated, which is imminent.

An additional Kayhan article and Iranian Foreign Ministry announcements via Twitter feature a #Covid1948 hashtag, meaning that the establishment of the state of Zionist Israel means the spread of a global pandemic similar to the coronavirus.

For more MEMRI reports on the Iranian regime's antisemitic ideology and its calls for the destruction of Israel, see:

Supreme Leader Khamenei: The Final Solution For The Zionists And Israel

On May 19, 2020, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei published on his website a Qods Day poster, in three languages. It stated: "Palestine Will Be Free – The Final Solution: Resistance Until Referendum." It depicts Palestinian soldiers on the Temple Mount waving Palestinian and Hizbullah flags, and showing figures symbolizing the resistance and the Islamic revolution: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Revolution in Iran; Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei; and IRGC Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in January 2020 by the U.S.

These motifs of the destruction of Israel interwoven with antisemitism appear regularly in Khamenei's statements; here they include the Nazi "Final Solution" reference. In Khamenei's perception, the aim is to eliminate Israel. He states that until a "democratic" referendum is held for the total destruction of Israel, the armed resistance should continue. See, for example, his May 20 tweets about about the destruction of the State of Israel either through resistance or through a "democratic" referendum held by the "true" residents of Palestine who, he says are the  Muslims, Christians, and Jews residing in Palestine for at least 100 years prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Khamenei also stresses that his statements on eliminating the Zionist regime and its officials do not refer to eliminating the Jews. However, as seen below in this report, concepts of "Jew" and "Zionist" are used interchangeably by the Iranian regime and its officials despite their claim that they do not recognize Zionists as Jews., May 20, 2020., May 20, 2020., May 20, 2020.

Kayhan: "Zionism Is A Cult Of Worship Based On Race And Blood, [Which] Writes History In Blood... Iran's Islamic Revolution Has Stopped The Zionist Machine... The Zionist Project Is Over"

The following are translated excerpts from the May 13, 2020 Kayhan article by a member of the daily's editorial board, Sadollah Zarei, who is close to IRGC circles. The article lays out the regime's doctrine on Zionism and Israel, while promoting a blood libel according to which the Zionists commit ritual murder.

"'Qods' [Jerusalem] is not just a tomb. It is a land with a deep connection to the divine prophets and the Abrahamic religions [Judaism, Christianity, and Islam]. The divine religions have seen it as their 'source' and their 'destination' for millennia,  and for that reason, it has been targeted by demon Satans and men for millennia.[1] From the earliest history of religions, the liberation and capture of Jerusalem have gone hand in hand, and Jerusalem was sometimes free and sometimes held captive...

"Jerusalem invites mankind to call for liberty, and religious people are the primary audience for its wounded cry. Jerusalem calls upon us to break free, and invites us to [share in] its freedom. [But] before we liberate Jerusalem we must liberate ourselves: [We must be] free of fear, free of bondage to human demons, free of heresy and pharaohs [i.e. tyrants]... Indeed, Jerusalem wants us to be free, [and] as the Abraham of our times [Iranian regime founder Ayatollah] Khomeini said, 'Qods Day is a day of liberation for all Muslims and all the oppressed.'

"Contrary to appearances, however, Jews and Judaism are not synonymous with what came to Jerusalem [i.e. Zionism]. [Their] Judaism is a racist faith that does not recognize the Jews, and for this reason the Jews do not regard Zionism as a religion. The Zionists regard the customs of Moses as superstition and reject everything called 'God. Hence, Jerusalem is their captive; it is not a place of worship for them. Zionism does not honor Jerusalem, and we indeed saw how [the late Israeli prime minister] Ariel Sharon entered Jerusalem and the Dome of the Rock with his boots and his sword, spilled blood there, and shattered the peace of the rituals at the Dome of the Rock and in Jerusalem.

"Fifty-two years ago, the Zionists also set fire to the Al-Aqsa mosque, and traces of smoke can still be seen on its ceiling, walls, pulpit and altar.[2] For years, the Zionists have dreamed of destroying that sacred dome by tunneling under Al-Qods. In the name of 'the body of David,' they wish to destroy the legacy of Abraham [that is, prioritizing Israeli nationality over Abraham who is shared by the monotheistic religions], just as they replaced the ritual of Al-Khalil [i.e. Hebron in Arabic] with the hollow ritual of [the Hebrew] 'Hebron.' The division of Hebron was the division of man and of mankind, for there is no reason to create barriers among the followers of the Abrahamic religions.

"Zionism is not a religion, nor does it follow any religion. Zionism is a 'cult' (a political group), whose establishment was declared in Basel, Switzerland,[3] and which is of course rooted in the plutocracies of the 15th and 16th centuries and of the Middle Ages. The Rothschild and Rockefeller families are racists who stole [other people's] treasures, and are heirs to the darkness of medieval Europe. Zionism is trying to write a new history of mankind – a history dominated by blood, in which the most bloodthirsty are capable of ruling.

"They [the Zionists] begin their worship with blood. Blood flows everywhere they prostrate themselves, and their altar reeks of blood. Blood for the Zionists is first and foremost the story of mankind, and it is their clearest mark of Cain. The claws of Zionism take the form of extinguished torches, highlighting a cross at the center, commemorating their predecessors' efforts to kill Jesus. Today they ride the Christian centers of power and do not hesitate to proudly recount the story of the murder of Jesus the Messiah whom God rescued from their net. 

"According to the Zionist leaders, the story of Judas [Iscariot] and the Messiah is not yet over, and every Christian must be scarred by the claws of the Zionists as part of the struggle against the descendants of Judas. [Although] Zionism has turned its back on the murder and destruction of Christianity and of every Christian, it has today taken control, drunk [with power], of the Elysee Palace, of Buckingham Palace, and of the White [House]. But [the Zionists] are not content with that, and will never rest until they extinguish the spiritual message of the churches.

"Zionism is a cult of worship based on race and blood. It writes history in blood and was born of blood. Although Zionism is not Jewish, it wishes to return, in the name of the Jews, to Khaybar [a Jewish oasis in the Arabian Peninsula taken by Muhammad, who killed all its residents], and to give the Muslims' land to the Bani Qurayza [a Jewish tribe killed off by Muhammad], Bani Mustaliq [an Arab tribe that conquered an area on the Red Sea coast] and Bani Qaynuqa [a Jewish tribe near Medina expelled by Muhammad]. [But] since Zionism knows that nothing of these Arab tribes remains [today], it seeks slaves in the palaces of Hijaz [Saudi Arabia], Abu Dhabi [the UAE], Kuwait, Muscat [Oman], and Doha [Qatar] to spread the message [of the Zionists] in the name of the Banu Qurayza in the Land of the Revelation [of Islam, i.e., the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf regions].

"Here too Zionism began in blood and writes history in blood. [The Zionists] encourage the war in Yemen, the hatred among the Arabs and Muslims in the [Arabian] Peninsula, and the spread of hostility between the Arabs and the Iranians. This time they have brought together Bani Sufiyan [Meccan trader of the Quraysh tribe who led the Meccans' struggle against Muhammad], Bani Jahl [a Meccan leader who opposed Muhammad and plotted to keep him from praying] and Bani Akrame [son of Jahl] into an [anti-Iran] coalition.

"But that is [only] one side of the Jerusalem coin. On the other side is etched a divine destiny: the victory [of Abraham, the father of monotheism] over Nimrod; the victory of Moses over Pharaoh; the victory of Jesus over Haman and over Judas and the plotters of the Sanhedrin [the supreme Jewish legal body in Jesus's day]; the victory of Muhammad over the [Jews of] Khaybar and over Khagan [ruler of Central Asia and the Caucasus]; the victory of Ali over the sons of Abu Sufyan [in the Shi'ite-Sunni struggle of the succession wars of early Islam]; and the victory of Jerusalem over Zionism.

"The story of the this Abrahamic dynasty is not one of land, materialism, dominance ,and power, or of choosing weapons over peace. The story of this dynasty is one of freedom. In this story, Jerusalem is the symbol of freedom, of human liberty, of the freedom of religion, the prophets and God, of human worship free of all shackles, and of man unbound by any [master], spreading flowers with every greeting, for it is said, 'You shall be a slave to none, and God created you free.'

"Zionism came on the scene with weapons, to disrupt peace among the believers and shackle mankind in the name of peace. But today the weapons and the peace of Zionism have waned, and peace prevails among God's creatures. Forty years ago, Iran's Islamic Revolution turned Zionism from reality to an 'illusion' and stopped the Zionist machine. After that, Zionism began to beg for handouts in [U.S.-brokered Israel-Arab peace talks at] Camp David and Annapolis and so on. Zionism, once the besieger, is now itself besieged by the offspring of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Lebanon's Hizbullah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ansar-Allah in Yemen, the Iraqi Hashd [Al-Sha'bi, aka PMU], the Syrian resistance, and dozens of the[se groups'] branches are everywhere in the region, and Israel is trying to survive in the maelstrom.

"The government in Tel Aviv has lost its color. [It is] holding round after round of elections but is marching in place. The 'Judaization of Palestine' is a nonsensical [motto], and the Deal of the Century cannot revive it. The Judaization of Palestine machine has been mired in the mud for 70 years, and Zionism will go nowhere in the time that remains to it. The courts of the royalty and the Abd Al-'Azizes [derogatory term for the Saudis] can no longer pave the way for the Judaization [of Palestine] by signing papers. The Salmanis [i.e. Saudis], the Zayidis [UAE], and the rest of the [Arab] monarchs cannot [save Israel].

Commentator Sadollah Zarei (Source: Mashregh, Iran, May 12, 2020.

"Instead of clinging to the two blue lines of its flag, Zionism is now examining walls for defending itself against the hate-filled Palestinian gaze. Zionism from the Nile to the Euphrates has now become a government in Tel Aviv [which is] on its deathbed. [Zionism, that engraves on its flag] from the Nile to the Euphrates and everywhere, now [stretches only] from Tel Aviv to western Jerusalem. Zionism is today carrying out military exercises on the northern borders of occupied Palestine so that it will perhaps have access to the tunnels from which a Hizbullah attack may come at any time. At [Israel's] southern borders, it is thought that there are tunnels from which there is a fear that at any moment Palestinian troops from Sinai, Gaza, and the [West] Bank may attack].

"Zionism is now looking to the windows of Washington and AIPAC, but it gazes in despair at the fate of the American troops in Iraq and Syria, as Ayatollah Khamenei considered the expulsion of America from the region as retribution for the blood of Gen. [Qassem] Soleimani. The bloodthirsty Zionism knows that the traditional contacts with the palaces of Elysee and Buckingham, and the White [House], are no longer creating miracles, and the time of the flourishing of Western culture and politics is about to end.

"Zionism knows that the West, historically for the past 72 years [its] main refuge, is now dealing with many events and cannot help prolong Zionism's life. So today we are hearing whispers of the end of Israel, in Tel Aviv's homes and [military] bases.

"The Zionist project has ended... but at the same time, Zionism is still shedding blood, still bombing, still assassinating, still invading the skies of Lebanon and Syria, still scheming [against] and bombing the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, still buying Arab slaves cheaply, still looking to the palaces of the region [in Arab countries]. This means that the cries [against it] must be heard as roars, blows must be landed, and the steps taken against it must remain strong on the march to Jerusalem. Jerusalem remains [but] a few steps from liberation, and this road must be trod to the end."[4]

Kayhan: "The World Will Forever Be Saved From The Zionists' Covid 1948 Contamination; The World's Body Will Experience Life Without The Zionist Cancer"

Kayhan's March 21 editorial devoted to Qods Day, headlined "Qods Day – The Octopus's [i.e. Israel's] Nightmare," also stressed the vision of Iran's Islamic revolutionary regime regarding the elimination of the State of Israel, this time by military means – not by Iranian military force but by its spiritual and ideological weapons – that is, its export of its Islamic revolution, carried out via armed resistance by Hizbullah, an extension of the Iranian regime. It also noted, like the message tweeted by the Iranian Foreign Ministry (see below) in the spirit of Nazi propaganda, that Israel and Zionism are a virus threatening the entire world. The following are translated excerpts from the editorial:

"During these 40 years [since the establishment of Iran's Islamic Revolution], the shoots of the revolution have grown more than they did in the centuries [that preceded it], and [as of] today they have grown and spread throughout the Islamic world. The export of the Islamic revolution today is no longer under the enemies' control, and the free men and heroes of the world have come to the conclusion that the Zionist regime that massacres children is terrified on the eve of Qods Day, and the [Israeli] octopus sees the nightmare of death.

"If at one time America led [the world], and Israel was a problem for the Arabs of the region, today the hands of the IRGC are wrapped around the neck of this leader, and for Israel to disappear there is no longer any need for Shihab-3, Fajr, or Amad [missiles], or for the water-bucket strategy [i.e. drowning Israel]. Israel's ears are being twisted by Hizbullah in Lebanon, and a minor struggle by [Hizbullah] will bring about its death two decades earlier than promised several years ago [by Khamenei, that in] 25 years [Israel would no longer exist] and the world will forever be saved from the Zionists' Covid 1948 contamination. The world's body will experience life without the Zionist cancer."[5]

Iranian Foreign Ministry Tweets: Israel Is A Global Virus – #Covid1948

Also in the spirit of Nazi propaganda casting the Jews as spreaders of disease and a danger to humanity, on May 20 Iran's Foreign Ministry tweeted two messages about the "Zionist regime" spreading a global pandemic like the coronavirus, with the hashtag #Covid1948.,, May 20, 2020.

*A. Savyon is director of the MEMRI Iran Studies Project; M. Manzour Is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.


[1]  In Islamic and Iranian folklore, there are two categories of sentient beings in the world: ins (humans) and jinn (demons). See also

Special Dispatch No. 8658, IRGC Cyber Division Confirms Supreme Leader Khamenei's Assertion That 'Demons Are Assisting The Enemies' With Statements That 'The Israeli Mossad Is... Using Demons' And 'The Jews Are Experts At Sorcery And At Creating Relationships With Demons, March 26, 2020.

[2]  The reference is apparently to the August 1969 attempt by Denis Michael Rohan, a Christian from Australia, to set fire to the pulpit of the Al-Aqsa mosque. For Iranian President Rouhani's statements attributing the arson to the "Zionist regime," see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6140, Iranian President Rohani: 'We Will Not Forget The Bitter Memory Of The Arson At The Muslims' First Direction Of Prayer [i.e. Al-Aqsa]'; Israel Continues 'To Kill And Rape,' August 25, 2015. 

[3] A reference to the Basel Program, the first manifesto of the Zionist movement, adopted at the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897. The manifesto set out the goal of the Zionist movement: to secure for the Jewish people a publicly recognized, legally assured homeland in Palestine.

[4] Kayhan (Iran), May 13, 2020.

[5] Kayhan (Iran), May 21, 2020.

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