As Israel marked its national Holocaust Remembrance Day Thursday, a major Iranian paper newspaper published an opinion piece including antisemitic tropes and overt praise of Adolf Hitler.
On Friday, the Islamic Republic of Iran will mark Quds Day, a day of solidarity with the Palestinian cause initiated by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 – the year of the Islamic Revolution. The national holiday is characterized by anti-Israel speeches and events and threats to “liberate” Jerusalem from Israeli control.
Corresponding with this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day marked in Israel, the state-run ultraconservative Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan ran a front-page opinion piece that openly praised Nazi leader Hitler.
The editor-in-chief of Kayhan is Hossein Shariatmadari, who has been referred to as a representative of the Supreme Leader of Iran.
Authored by a scholar identified as Mohammad Hadi Sahraei and titled “Maybe Without War,” the piece opened by noting the biblical story of the Sin of the Golden Calf at Mount Sinai, a version of which is mentioned in the Quran. Sahraei used the Quran account of the story to establish his claims of Jews being “a people who are known for their stubbornness, objections and excuses.”
His description of Jews continued: “[Those] who consider others as their property, and themselves as superior to others and God’s permanent chosen people; they corrupt the earth; their scholars are known for distortion, usury, fornication, prophethood and murder, and they also laid the foundation for the murder of the Shiite Imams, etc.”
Sahraei argues that most Jews “belong to the Zionist ideology that our world today understands with its flesh and blood,” claiming that Zionists have mastered historiography and narration “as they are masters in forging divine books and history, and just as storytellers write novels or fiction, they weave and weave history according to their future needs.”
Officially and as a matter of policy, Iran denies the Holocaust and the systematic murder of Jews during World War II and occasionally sponsors Holocaust denial cartoon events.
In an apparent reference to the recent sentencing by a German court of a 93-year-old woman to 12 months in prison for denying that Jews were systematically murdered during the Holocaust, Sahraei wrote that Jews “lie so much that they believe in themselves and are even afraid of an old woman denying the Holocaust and sentence her to prison.”
He went on to accuse Jews of “fabricating” history and urged readers to be aware of Jewish “historical exaggerations and media.”
“When the media giants of the world are in the hands of [Rupert] Murdoch the Zionist and the like, we should expect to see the same spirit that we have talked about since the beginning of this era in the media affiliated with them,” he wrote.
Sahraei then moved on to direct his attacks on Israel, which only manages to “remain in the heart of the Islamic region,” he argued, due to “the coercive money that the United States and some major European countries… pay to this regime annually.”
He claimed that “the logic that Hitler showed by expelling them from Germany is that he is smarter and more courageous than all current European leaders.”
Post-World War II Europe, the author argued, “endorsed the myth of the Holocaust” as an “excuse for [its] cowardice and humiliation.”
After praising the leader of Nazi Germany, the author still sought to differentiate between Jews and Zionists, the latter of whom he called “the most insidious, deceitful, and harmful creatures discovered by the human species,” claiming they “are even despised by the Jews and Jews of the world.”
This strategy, of downplaying clearly antisemitic tropes and reframing them as anti-Zionist sentiment, has been adopted by Iranian regime-controlled media outlets before.
Some of these publications openly attack Jews, while others take a softer approach, directing hatred toward “Zionists,” who are often used interchangeably with “Jews.”
This idea is reflected through various narratives and historical distortions, including the largely abandoned Khazar hypothesis of Ashkenazi ancestry, which essentially claims that Ashkenazi Jews and most of the Jewish population around the world today are not actually descendants of the “real Jews,” revered in Islamic tradition as People of the Book.
In January, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution aimed at combating Holocaust denial, with one hundred and fourteen countries co-sponsoring the resolution (Resolution A/76/L30) and Iran strongly opposing it.