While coronavirus has been rightly treated as an immediate threat, the mainstream media has largely ignored news stories equally in need of international attention, such as the crisis in the Middle East.
In the run-up to International Jerusalem Day, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, released an anti-Israel poster showing a conquered Jerusalem alongside the Nazi’s infamous ‘final solution’ calling for the destruction of Israel on his official website in Farsi, Arabic, and English. The poster, which showed armed soldiers and civilians waving the Palestinian flag just outside the Dome of the Rock in East Jerusalem, was published alongside the message: ‘Palestine will be free. The final solution: Resistance until Referendum.’
The ‘final solution’ refers to the mass genocide of Jewish people during the Holocaust.
Soon after, the United States, European Union, and Israel accused Khamenei of anti-Semitism. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, took to Twitter to condemn the “disgusting and hateful anti-Semitic remarks” accusing Iran of ‘echoing Hitler’s calls for genocide’:
Issuing a stern warning to Khamenei, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted:
In its response, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell issued a consensus statement condemning the Khamenei’s threats against Israel on behalf of all 27 members of the EU: “Such statements are totally unacceptable and represent a deep source of concern. They are also incompatible with the objective of a stable and peaceful Middle East region pursued by the EU. The European Union reiterates its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel.”
Nikolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East, added a denunciation of his own:
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to the outrage by highlighting the words “resistance until referendum” written on the poster:
After being accused of endorsing genocide, Khamenei said he seeks Israel’s destruction but not the annihilation of all Jews:
However, Khamenei later compared Israel to a “cancerous tumor in the region” that must be removed saying Iran will back any entity that fights Israel:
A diversionary tactic? The other side of the story…
Elections are looming in Iran, Israel, and the US. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Israeli PM Netanyahu, and US President Donald Trump could benefit from a distraction. With inflation likely to reach 31% and the unemployment rate at 17%, Rouhani is set to lose support in parliament to the hard-liners. That makes the threatened ‘final solution’ a diversionary tactic for Iran.
Keeping a security threat on the agenda serves Netanyahu – who has been indicted on charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. A ‘final solution’ kind of unfounded threats may be used to ensure his political survival, improve his chances of skirting the pending indictments, or justify nixing elections.
Meanwhile, Trump faced impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. A war (Israel is a strategic ally of the US) with Iran is all he needs in order to win re-election to the White House. Ali Vaez, an Iran analyst for the International Crisis Group, told DW: “The [Iran-Israel] conflict has become a screw that only turns in one direction, getting tenser and tenser over time… Trump’s reputation as the “Twitter tiger” also provides room for miscalculation in Iran. The president may stand to gain domestically by responding to a provocation.”