In 2016, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appointed a 55-year-old anti-Semitic hardliner and Islamic jurist, Ebrahim Raisi, as chairman of that Iranian government’s reserve for terrorism, the Astan Quds Razavi. Fast forward to August of 2020, 60-year-old Ebrahim Raisi was able to “win” Iran’s presidential election thanks in large part to the Supreme Leader’s influence. With Raisi as Iran’s president, not only does Iran have another anti-Semitic leader, but it shows how Khamenei and other radical Islamic clerics like him will openly and enthusiastically continue to support and appoint individuals who are enormously anti-Semitic.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, was an open anti-Semite who blamed Jewish people for “eliminating Islam” and described them as “immersed in sin” (Litavk 302). Once in power, Khomeini and his acolytes made sure that government officials of Iran’s government would be anti-Semitic hardliners who would support and carry out terrorist attacks against Jewish people all over the world. With Khomeini gone, the Islamic Republic under its current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, continues to support anti-Semitic individuals for high public office so that the Islamic Republic achieves Khomeini’s Nazi vision of a Jew-free world.
According to the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt, as chairman of the Astan Quds Razavi Foundation, Raisi announced and oversaw the cinematic production of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which aired on Iranian television and other media outlets. The documentary would be a 50 part series that would be available on CD for 20 million Islamic pilgrims visiting the Shrine of Imam Reza Mashhad and distributed at other cultural venues. Historically, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is a 1903 Russian published anti-Semitic text designed to scapegoat Jewish people for all of societies problems.
The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” has fueled anti-Semitic harassment such as the programs and played a critical role in laying the groundwork for the Nazi party and the Holocaust. For Raisi to endorse and support the creation of this film is alarming and reaffirms his antisemitic beliefs. Raisi, like Ayatollah Khamenei and other officials of the Iranian government, has always believed that the Jewish people are responsible for everything wrong with the world. The “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is simply an old anti-Semitic text that they can use to justify their anti-Semitic conspiratorial beliefs.
In 2018, the Astan Quds Razavi Foundation, under Raisi’s leadership, continued to propagate the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” by creating a new film, “The Devil’s Plan”. In a statement to journalists, the film’s director of “The Devil’s Plans” stated that Jewish people have a “demonic plan for world domination” and that the film hopes to explain why they needed to be “destroyed” (in text citation). In 2019, the conservative hardliner left the Astan Quds Razavi Foundation for a high-ranking judicial role in the Islamic Republic’s judiciary. In his new appointment, Raisi continued to espouse anti-Semitic conspiracies against Jewish people and declared that terrorist organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon will make sure that no one in the state of Israel will be safe.
Raisi’s participation and sponsorship of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” reveal two long-standing issues in Iran that, if current trends continue, will continue to plague the country. The first is the obvious fact that Iran’s radical Islamic Shiite community has and continues to have a longstanding problem of anti-Semitism. The second is the length to which the Iranian government and its acolytes are willing to use old and new Goebbels-esque methods to create and spread their anti-Semitic propaganda.
Fast forward to 2021 and 2022 and that same hardliner has become Iran’s president because the Supreme Leader and the clerical establishment are encouraged by his thoughts and statements against Jewish People. This type of appointment is nothing new for the Iranian government; since 1998, individuals like Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafansaj, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mohammad Khatami have been “elected” into Iran’s presidency because they hold anti-Semitic conspiratorial views against Jews and the state of Israel.
As Iran’s newest anti-Semitic president, Raisi has appointed another anti-Semitic individual named Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, a hardline Islamist as Iran’s foreign secretary. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, like his predecessor, former Iranian foreign secretary Mohammad Javad Zarif, has been open about his anti-Semitism in office through speeches and social media posts. In November of 2020, while taking a break from negotiating with U.S. and European officials about Iran’s nuclear program, Mr. Abdollanhian tweeted an anti-Semitic cartoon describing the Bahraini Foreign Minister as a “traitor” who will share the same fate with the “Zionist pigs” (in text citation).
Raisi’s appointment of Moshen Rezaei as Iran’s Vice President for Economic Affairs and Ahmad Vahidi as Iran’s Interior Minister are two more examples of the new president’s anti-Semitic character. In October of 2021, Moshen Rezaei promised that if the state of Israel attacked Iran militarily, then the Iranian Jewish community in Iran would suffer under the regime.
Countries like the United States and European nations who are serious about fighting global anti-Semitism should stop engaging with Iranian government officials and adopt a hardline approach against the regime for its anti-Semitic figures and activities. In the past, Iranian presidents have faced little backlash for their anti-Semitic Nazi-like propaganda from the West and its allies. To break this trend, countries like the United States and European countries should halt all negotiations with Iranian government officials, close Iranian embassies, ban Iranian government officials from traveling to different parts of the West, and encourage other nations to do the same.