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In rare dissent, Iran scholar slams regime’s anti-Israel rhetoric

Professor Sadegh Zibakalam takes on Supreme Leader Khamenei in clip posted by independent, but state-sanctioned website

Professor Sadegh Zibakalam in an interview with Hossein Dehbashi, November 13, 2016. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Professor Sadegh Zibakalam in an interview with Hossein Dehbashi, November 13, 2016. (Screen capture: YouTube)

In a rare, albeit minor, instance of pro-Israel dissent, a prominent Iranian intellectual slammed the regime’s policy of aggression toward Israel in an interview with an Iranian internet news site.

According to watchdog group MEMRI, which posted translated edits from the lengthy interview, Professor Sadegh Zibakalam criticized Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s talk of a referendum on the future of Israel, calling this both unrealistic and none of Iran’s business. He asserted that Iran’s open commitment to destroy Israel — as evident in its parading of long-range missiles with slogans in Hebrew pronouncing that “Israel must be destroyed” — was a breach of UN-mandated respect for member states.

“The UN officially recognized Israel and Iran as a member state,” Zibakalam said. “According to Article 1 of the UN charter, the UN member states must not conduct acts of aggression against one another and must not wish death or destruction upon another nation.”

“Iran must first withdraw from the UN, before it may chant ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Israel must be destroyed,'” Zibakalam added.

A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, 'Israel must be wiped out.' (Fars News)
A missile launched from the Alborz mountains in Iran on March 9, 2016, reportedly inscribed in Hebrew, ‘Israel must be wiped out.’ (Fars News)

The interview was conducted by Iranian website aparat.com, an independent, though state-sanctioned internet site. MEMRI posted its excerpts earlier this week. Aparat also features other interviews with opponents and critics of the regime.

MEMRI said that the interview was “held by the Iranian Ministry of Islamic Culture and posted on its official YouTube account on November 13.” The Times of Israel could not confirm this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE4lJi1GPVo

Zibakalam has slammed the regime’s anti-Israel policy publicly before, and in February of 2014, he stated that he recognizes the State of Israel because the UN recognizes it.

Earlier this month, he went to great lengths to avoid stepping on an Israeli flag painted onto the ground at the entrance to a university building in Iran, according to widely circulated footage of the incident, and later did the same to avoid having to tread on the American flag.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjT_-vagHsM

In the clip published by the professor on Facebook, Zibakalam can be seen entering a building with some colleagues, carefully sidestepping the Israeli flag on the floor before reaching the first landing where he then climbs onto the railing and shimmies across to avoid the American flag on the ground.

The video was published by Zibakalan earlier this month on Facebook accompanied by a post that read: “American and Israeli flags not stepped over when Zibakalam enters Azad University [a private nationwide university system] of Mashhad [a city in northeastern Iran] to debate Hamid Rasaei [a conservative member of parliament].”

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