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April 22, 2015 1:34 pm

Major Middle East Think Tank Says Iran Spreading Antisemitic Discourse

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An Iranian cartoon of the Holocaust. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A major Middle East think tank released an extensive report on Tuesday detailing Iran’s efforts to spread antisemitic discourse.

“In today’s Iran, anti-Judaic and anti-Semitic discourses are sometimes mixed in textbooks, media, religious/political propaganda, and secular intellectual literature,” said the Washington Institute for Near East Policy report, which was published by Business Insider.

The report derided Iranian members of parliament for failing to condemn expressions of antisemitism — including instances of the blood libel that accuse Jews of consuming non-Jewish blood — in the press, despite Iran’s Jewish community.

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The report distinguishes between anti-Judaism and antisemitism, the former being a religiously derived ideology and the latter political.

While anti-Jewish sentiment existed in Iranian Islamic literature and religious culture before, the new political antisemitism is rooted in “leftist and Islamist” ideas, which infiltrated political discourse in Iran before and after the overthrow of Iran’s secular regime in 1979. Old claims of Jews “falsifying” passages of the Bible have turned to new ones of Jews trying to take over the world.

The report pointed to Sayyed Muhammad Shirazi, the member of a powerful media family, who published antisemitic books in the 1960s, such as The World as Jews’ Plaything. It quoted a recent article in the Iranian news outlet, Alef, which accuses Jews of being “bloodthirsty” and uses the blood libel as proof.

According to the Iranian census, there are 8,756 Jews in Iran today.

This year, the House of Cartoon and the Sarcheshmeh Cultural Complex in Iran will host the country’s annual International Holocaust Cartoon Competition, and will award $12,000 for the best cartoon on the theme of Holocaust denial.

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