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Iran’s Supreme leader calls to destroy “cancerous tumour” Israel, seemingly blames Israel for ISIS

Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, has called for a “holy intifada” to destroy the “cancerous tumour” of Israel.

In his opening address to Iran’s sixth international conference in support of the Palestinians, Khamenei described the whole world as being on a collision course with the “Zionist regime”. He said “From the beginning, this cancerous tumor has been developing in several phases until it turned into the current disaster…the cure for this tumor should be developed in phases as well.”

Describing Israel as a “cancerous tumour” is reminiscent of antisemitic language used against Jews, particularly in Nazi Germany, which referred to Jews as vermin or diseases which needed to be eradicated. The idea of Jews as a disease is still very common in far right antisemitism. According to the definition of antisemitism, it is antisemitic to use the “symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism to characterise Israel or Israelis”.

He reportedly blamed Israel for the current upheaval in the wider Middle East. Accusing Israel of founding, organising or funding ISIS is currently a very common antisemitic conspiracy theory which we are increasingly encountering online, and which we have covered instances of several times, including from a prominent anti-Zionist Facebook group and from a London-based Labour party fundraiser.

The Ayatollah said “the people of Palestine have no option other than keeping the flames of fighting alight by relying on Allah the Exalted and by relying on their innate capabilities, as they have genuinely done so until today” and also described the “brutal occupation” of Palestine as the worst case of oppression of a group of people in recorded history.

As an organisation, we have no position with the conflict between Israel, the Palestinians and other Middle Eastern states. However, describing the situation of Palestinians as the worst case of oppression in recorded history is ahistorical to the point of amounting to denial of the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the Rwandan Genocide and a plethora of other atrocities in human history. It is a statement that is calculated to demonise Jews as the perpetrators of the worst atrocity in human history, which is in turn being used to incite terrorism.