Iran dreams to lead the Muslim world – opinion

Hating Israel gives Iran purpose.

THE IRANIAN leader is always shouting and complaining about Israel.  (photo credit: REUTERS)

THE IRANIAN leader is always shouting and complaining about Israel.

(photo credit: REUTERS)

Every year, during this season, Iranians dedicate a special day to Israel. The day is called Al Quds Day. It also has another name. The other name is Destroy Israel Day.

Hating Israel gives Iran purpose.

Iranian leadership has a vision. They want to be the leaders of the entire Muslim world. THE leaders. They want all the Sunnis in the Muslim world to follow their lead. Iranians dream big. And the fact that Iran is a Shi’ite country and the vast majority of the rest of the Muslim world is Sunni, this is a very, very large dream.

Getting Sunnis to accept Iranian leadership is nearly impossible given the history and divisions, the massacres, the persecutions and the all important and fundamental religious divisions between them. However, Iran hopes, if there were a common cause – better yet, a common enemy, then maybe the Sunnis would follow in line with them and Iran could rule the Muslim world.

And that’s where Israel comes in. Iran hates Israel. The Arab world hates Israel. Iran wants to destroy Israel. The Arab world wants to destroy Israel. Because hatred for Israel and the desire to destroy Israel is what connects Iran to the rest of the Arab world, and because that united hatred is stronger than all that divides them, hatred for Israel has become the vehicle that, Iran hopes, will propel them to greatness.

To that end, Iranian leadership promotes anti-Israel programs. And Al Quds Day is one of their most prominent and promising programs. It is such an important tool for them vis-à-vis the rest of the Arab world, that in addition to Farsi, the language of Iran, all material related to Al Quds Day is also published in Arabic.

Iranian Al Quds Day 2020 was scheduled right in the middle of novel coronavirus restrictions and social distancing. That shows you how badly official Iran hates Israel and how much they want to rule the Muslim world.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps organized rallies in hundreds of cities and towns throughout Iran. Rally participants were in cars – no marches and no one outside of cars. There were also virtual rallies and online speeches in each town and city. The people of Iran, hunkering down at home because of their stay-at-home order, were still able to show their hatred and participate in this special day.

The burning of flags is a very popular and traditional form of protest in Iranian circles. American flags, Israeli flags, there is always a cause to burn a flag. But because of coronavirus restrictions, this year flag burning was an impossibility. So organizers became very creative. In place of flags, they simply used fire as a substitute symbol of their hatred. They burned flags virtually.

And then the Ayatollah added a new twist to the day.

In an extreme move – extreme even for Iran – the Grand Ayatollah commissioned a poster that was then posted on his website and then sent out online and hung up throughout the country. The poster was plastered all over Iran.

The poster reads: “Palestine will be free. The final solution. Resistance is referendum.”

Final solution is a very clear reference to Hitler and to the Holocaust. After Jewish leaders reacted and expressed their feelings about the Holocaust reference, the Grand Ayatollah clarified the poster’s message. He said that he did not mean killing all Jews – just Israeli Jews.

The poster was on the front screen of the Ayatollah’s website. The message was written in Farsi, in Arabic and also in English. Clarification or not, there was no misunderstanding. The message is perfectly clear. This is not the first time Iran has toyed with Holocaust references. They have sponsored conferences rejecting the Holocaust. They have held cartoon contests embracing Holocaust denial.

Iranian leadership knows full well both the history of the Holocaust and that the Holocaust is a part of European history. But history and truth aside, they are contributing to the conspiracy that says it did not happen because that is very popular thesis in much of the Muslim world. By rejecting the Holocaust and pledging to murder the Jews – Israeli Jews or all Jews – Iran is hoping to get more and more support for their leadership of the entire Arab world.

Iran is fighting an uphill battle.

In the same way that people tend to shout louder when they are losing an argument, Iranian leadership is increasing their rhetoric against Israel because many Arab countries that have traditionally and historically hated Israel have changed course recently and are uniting with the US (their other arch enemy) and with Israel against Iran. Iran is increasing their online presence – despite the religious objection to use of the Internet in their fundamentalist theology – because they have finally learned that it is the only way to reach youth the world over and because more and more Iranian youth have let it be known that they do not subscribe to the ideas of the Iranian leadership.

Iranian leadership typically thinks things through. But, not now, not in this case. Hatred for Israel is what stokes their fury, but it is not a burning issue with enough of the rest of the Muslim world to propel Iran to leadership of the entire world.

The writer is a political commentator. He hosts the TV show Thinking Out Loud on JBS TV. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern.

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