Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday night released an English-language video on social media calling on the world to help Iranians improve their lives by standing up to “a regime that oppresses them and denies them a life of dignity, prosperity and respect.”
In the video, Netanyahu addresses the camera and tells the story of an imaginary 15-year-old girl called Fatemeh.
Fatemeh, Netanyahu says, has no water, electricity shortages, can’t remove her head-covering outside the home, and her school is cancelled due to air pollution.
“She stops at her favorite bakery in the Aladdin mall to eat cake yazdi but there’s a nation-wide strike,” Netanyahu continues. Firefighters cannot afford the proper equipment to extinguish fires.
“Fatemeh is completely exasperated,” the prime minister related. “‘Why is everything in my country falling apart?’ she asks.
She cannot find the answers on social media because Facebook and Twitter are banned. But she reads the newspaper and discovers what the regime has done with all the money.
“Billions wasted moving Iran’s army to Syria. Billions wasted to get nuclear weapons. Billions wasted on war in Yemen,” Netanyahu explains.
He concludes by saying that although Fatemeh is fictitious, this is the true story of “millions of Iranians.”
“If you want peace, help Fatemeh,” Netanyahu tells his video audience. “Help the people of Iran to raise their voice against a regime that oppresses them and denies them a life of dignity, prosperity and respect.”
The video, which was also released with Persian subtitles, is the latest in a series of English-language clips posted by Netanyahu in which he ostensibly makes the case for helping the Iranian people, and encourages them to stand up to the regime.
Last month, Netanyahu praised Iranians for showing “courage” in mass protests against their government and its economic policies, following the collapse of the country’s currency amid the renewal of US nuclear sanctions.
The protests, which began at the end of June in Tehran and around the country — including economically hard-hit cities like Kermanshah in western Iran — featured shouts of “Death to Palestine,” “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon” and “Leave Syria and think of us,” highlighting Iran’s continued support for Palestinian groups and Syrian President Bashar Assad despite the country’s dire economic state. Chants of “We don’t want the ayatollahs” and “Death to the dictator” were also heard at some rallies.
Showcasing his soccer skills in a video posted on social media, Netanyahu drew a parallel between the demonstrations and the Iranian soccer team’s “impossible” feat in the FIFA World Cup, when it scored a 1-1 draw against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, including blocking a penalty kick by the superstar. He added that he hoped to eventually see Iran play a match against Israel.
Stopping Ronaldo is “almost impossible,” said Netanyahu, “but the Iranian team just did the impossible.”
“To the Iranian people I say: You showed courage on the playing field, and today you showed the same courage in the streets of Iran,” the prime minister said in the video.
In recent years, Iran has provided financial aid to Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Shiite militias in Iraq. Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Tehran has poured a reported $6 billion into propping up Assad’s government.
At the end of last year, similar economic protests roiled Iran and spread to some 75 cities and towns, becoming the largest demonstrations in the country since its 2009 disputed presidential election. The protests in late December and early January saw at least 25 people killed and nearly 5,000 arrested.