The approach of the Iranian regime towards Israel, the Zionist state, is unambiguous: Tehran rejects its right to exist and calls for its Jewish inhabitants to return to their countries of origin. An ostensibly democratic solution to the Palestinian issue, which Tehran has endorsed, is to hold a referendum about the future of Palestine among all the Palestinians – in Palestine and the diaspora – and among all Jews who lived in Palestine before the U.N. partition resolution of 1947, and their descendents. Since the Jews will form a minority among the voters, the referendum will yield a decision to dismantle the Zionist state, thus eliminating this state by "democratic" means.
Though Islamic Iran rejects Judaism as a nationality, it does recognize it as a religion; furthermore, since Jews belong to Ahl Al-Kitab (the People of the Book), Iran is obliged to recognize their right to practice their faith under Islamic rule, though with certain constraints set out by Islamic law. (This is the ideological basis for the alliance between the Iranian regime and the Orthodox Jewish movement of Neturei Karta, which likewise rejects the Zionist national ethos). At the same time, it should be noted that Iran is one of the leading forces championing and spreading the new antisemitism in today's world.
It should also be noted that, despite the ostensibly clear distinction between Israelis/Zionists and Jews, Iranian spokesmen frequently confuse the two terms, referring to Jews sometimes as a religious group and sometimes as a national one."
A Fundamental Concept of the Iranian Regime: Zionism Is the Antithesis of Judaism
In a September 6, 2010 interview on a Dutch TV channel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated a concept that is fundamental to Iran's anti-Zionist ideology, namely that Zionism is the antithesis of religion. He said: "[The Zionists] have no religion and are therefore the only group that opposes the [very] concept of religion. They oppose all types of religion, because religion advocates brotherhood, friendship, and tolerance, while they advocate war... Today they say [they oppose] Islam, [but] if tomorrow the Christians oppose them, they will oppose Christianity. Today many Jews around the world oppose the Zionists, and the Zionists oppose [the Jews]."
Building on this concept, Iran's deputy minister of culture and Islamic guidance, Mohammad Ali Ramin, who is also the head of an organization called The World Foundation for Holocaust Studies, and is close to Ahmadinejad, developed a new approach towards Israeli Jews that calls upon them to become loyal citizens of Islamic Iran, like the Jews under the Persian empire of Cyrus the Great, and thereby accept the Iranians as their saviors.
In a July 28 address in Kazvin in northwest Iran, Ramin reiterated the Iranian claim that the Zionist regime is doomed. The innovation in his statements was the portrayal of the Jews as victims of the West and the Zionist leaders – in contrast to the prevailing view in Iran, which regards them as the primary force of evil that propels the Western superpowers and exploits them to its advantage. Ramin essentially called to distinguish between the Zionist regime, which acts against the Jews' interests, and the Jewish people in Israel and elsewhere, which is oblivious to the conspiracies that the Zionist regime and the West are concocting against it, and is a victim of these conspiracies. Another innovation in Ramin's approach was the idea that the Iranian regime is the great beneficiary and savior of the Jews, after the fashion of Cyrus the Great.
Ramin proposed to view the Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the prism of a race-theory with religious overtones. According to this theory, Britain and the U.S. – the major evil forces in the West today – concocted a two-stage conspiracy against the Jews: in the first stage they gathered them in one land (namely Palestine), and in the second they incited them against the Muslims who live in the region. This, in order to ruin the good relations that existed for centuries between the Muslims and Jews, and thus deprive the Jews of their traditional shelter in the Muslim lands (for the Muslims always protected them while in the West they suffered pogroms and acts of hostility). Ramin suggested to explain to the Jews that the establishment of Israel was an American-British plot, because once they realize this, their attitude towards Iran and the Muslims is sure to change. He also said that the Jews must be warned that the existence of Israel is contrary to their own religion, which has forbidden them to establish a state before the coming of the Messiah, lest they be massacred.
It is interesting to note that, unlike other Iranian regime spokesmen, Ramin recognizes the suffering of the Jewish people throughout the ages, and especially during the Holocaust (though he refers to the Holocaust as a "propaganda asset for the Zionists"). Moreover, he accepts the Zionist claim that the Jews have a right to return to their homeland, from which they were exiled "three thousand years ago."
Following are excerpts from Ramin's July 28 address:
Zionism Is the Main Problem of the Islamic World Today
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"There is a perpetual war between Truth [represented by our side] and Falsehood [represented by our enemy]... To win this war, we must correctly identify the enemy's weak point. Zionism is the worst problem that the Islamic world [faces] today, [so we must examine] what are the ways to fight it, why we have not made any headway [against it], and whether it is sufficient to cry 'death to the Zionist regime,' as we have been doing for 31 years. In the matter of the Zionist regime, it is we who must take the initiative."
The Holocaust Is an Asset of Zionist Propaganda
"In the past, when we said that the Zionist regime must be eliminated, we meant that we had to fight the Jews, because the Zionist regime defines itself as the representative of the Jewish people. The Holocaust is the [main] asset of their propaganda. The Westerners incite the world public opinion, and especially Western public opinion, by claiming that the Jews were persecuted in World War II, and therefore the Jews must be supported and defended... [The Westerners] strengthen the Zionist regime on the grounds that they are protecting the Jewish [people], and thereby create a sort of conflict between Jews and Muslims... We must find solutions that will change the contours of this front."
The Establishment of Israel – A Western Plot against the Jews
The West, and especially America and the Zionist [leaders], claim that they established the Zionist regime in order to protect [the Jews'] human rights, and in order to preserve the basis of the Jewish nation. [But in truth,] the establishment of the Zionist regime is a plot against the religious identity of the Jewish people and against its [very] existence. This is our theory, and it rests upon a solid foundation...
"Three thousand [sic] years ago, the Jews were exiled [from their homeland]. Some of them emigrated to the East and some to the West. In the West they were treated badly. The attitude of the racist Jews against the racist Westerners created [a situation where], for 3,000 years, there was constant hostility in the West towards the Jewish race, and throughout this period [they suffered] terrible atrocities. [On the other hand,] in the East and in Iran, under the rule of the [Persian] kings, such as the Achaemenid [kings], the Jews were never massacred, and in fact were honored and many of them held senior positions [of government].
"After 2,500 years [sic], Jesus appeared, and the Christians thought the Jews had killed him. The claim that the Jews killed Jesus caused the Christian Westerners to double their hatred for the Jews.
"Islam, on the other hand, regarded the Jews as the People of the Book, so in the East after the advent of Islam the Jews were not persecuted for their faith but only for acts of treason. In fact, for 2,000 or 3,000 years, the Jews were protected in the lands of the East and in the Muslim lands, whereas in the West they were subjected to genocide.
"In the 70 years since World War II, the plan of the U.S. and Britain has been to gather all the Jews from the different countries, and establish for them a state in the heart of the Islamic world. They pretended to help [the Jews] by concentrating them in Palestine, [claiming that] they were unsafe in Europe, whereas [Palestine] would be a safe place for them, where they would prosper.
"Had Britain and the U.S. really wanted to help the Jews, they would have at least helped to make peace between the Jewish immigrants and the Palestinians in the 60 years that have passed since the establishment of the Zionist regime. But throughout that period, the Westerners only made efforts, day and night, to incite the Jews of this region, the Zionists and the Zionist regime, in order to make the Jews massacre Muslims... [Britain and the U.S.] concocted plots, and sowed [mutual] treason, espionage, fear and pessimism between the Jews and the Muslims of the region. Their goal was to create hostility [between the Jews and the people of the East] – which had not existed between them for 3,000 years... as evident from the fact that our Koran exonerates the Jews of killing Jesus – so that, if the Westerners try to exterminate the Jews again, [the Jews] will find no shelter anywhere in the world."
The Establishment of Israel Is Contrary to the Jewish Faith
"According to the laws of Judaism, since being expelled from Jerusalem the Jews are forbidden to enter this city until the Messiah comes, and they are forbidden to concentrate in one area, lest they be massacred. Until the Messiah comes, the Jews may not form a government, because it will be corrupt and will be eliminated.
"But the Zionist regime arrived, and violating the laws of the Torah, it established a government, concentrated the Jews [in one land], and set up its capital in Jerusalem. This is a conspiracy [that threatens] the Jews' very existence, and they must be warned and told: 'if you care for [your] future and wish to take a lesson from history, you must beware, because the Zionist regime will be the end of you.'
"These arguments are solid, and all Jews believe them. We need only to publish this theory [as part of] our positions and statements, and then the Iranians, as Muslims, will once again be the ones who save the Jewish people from extermination, just as they were saved 2,500 years ago [by Cyrus]...
"The Zionist regime is temporary, and every Muslim it kills brings it closer to its demise."
* A. Savyon is Director of the Iranian Media Project; Y. Mansharof is a research fellow at MEMRI.
 Jihad News (Iran), September 11, 2010.
 Fars (Iran), July 29 2010.
 The Achaemenid dynasty ruled the between 559 and 330 BCE. Its empire stretched from northern India and Pakistan to Libya.