How do Iranian Jews feel about Zionism?
Matthias Küntzel, born in 1955, is a political scientist and journalist and has worked part-time as a political teacher at a Hamburg vocational school since 1992. "Islamic Anti-Semitism and German Politics" has just been published.
Why the Iranian nuclear option must be preventedFor the first time since the "Third Reich" in Iran, the rulers of a large country have placed anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and the intention to liquidate a UN member country at the center of their foreign policy, says Matthias Küntzel.
Anti-Israel rally on "Al-Quds Day" (Jerusalem Day) in Tehran, Iran. (& copy AP)
"They created a black and dirty microbe - called the 'Zionist regime' - to unleash it like a wild animal on the peoples of the nation," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told his supporters on February 20, 2008 in a speech televised on state television to 1] Two days earlier, one of Iran's highest officials, General Jaafari, had spoken of the "cancerous plant of Israel" and prophesied its "disappearance in the near future". 
Microbe, cancerous plant - the choice of words is well known in Germany. The current Iranian leadership rejects the suspicion of anti-Semitism: Ahmadinejad demonstratively hugs Jews who are fighting Israel; With media coverage, he takes the 25,000 Jews living in Iran as evidence that the regime respects and protects the Jewish religion.
And yet no other head of government since Adolf Hitler has spread as much anti-Semitism as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He does not say that "Jews" rule the world. He says: "The Zionists rule the world."  "The Zionists" produced the Mohammed cartoons in Denmark and destroyed the golden mosque in Iran. "The Zionists are" responsible for a large part of all injustices in the world. Where they are, there is war. " 
The pattern is familiar. Ahmadinejad uses the term "Zionist" with the same meaning with which Hitler used the word "Jew": as the source of all evil in this world. But those who hold Jews responsible for the evils of this earth are ruled by anti-Semitism. He will want to eliminate Israel as "the nucleus of evil". He will deny the Holocaust because the mass murder contradicts his view of the world.
For the first time since the Third Reich, the rulers of a large country in present-day Iran have placed anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and the intention of liquidating a UN member country at the center of their foreign policy.
Your threats are not limited to Israel. "We are in the midst of a historic war that has been going on for hundreds of years," Ahmadinejad declared in October 2005, making it clear that the Middle East conflict is not at stake.  All over the world, the dictatorship of God wants to replace the secular and liberal orientation of the West with a Sharia order. Everywhere women, like in Iran, should be brutally suppressed, gays hanged in public, unionists persecuted, newspapers banned and sinners stoned. "Our mission transcends the geographical boundaries of the Islamic world," explains Ahmadinejad. "Our clergy have a responsibility to urge humanity as a whole to adopt the principles of monotheistic rule." 
Ahmadinejad acts as a world populist, as a Mao-style Arafat who wants to involve countries like Cuba, Nicaragua or Venezuela in the revolutionary front. "The age of darkness will end," he enthused before the United Nations plenary session in September 2007, "and the peoples of America and Europe will be freed from the burdens that the Zionists inflict on them." The connection between liberation and anti-Semitism, for which the historian Saul Friedländer coined the term "redemption anti-Semitism" with reference to National Socialism, is dangerous enough. In the case of Iran, there is a third factor: the belief in the return of the "Twelfth Imam".
This mythical figure refers to the last immediate descendant of Mohammed in the twelfth generation, who disappeared without a trace in 874 as a young boy. The Shia is based on the belief that this "Imam" will someday emerge from his concealment and free the world from all evils. Ahmadinejad and his friends have turned this abstract vision of the liberation of the world into a daily political program. At the beginning of 2008, the construction of a boulevard for the "Messiah who will come soon" was one of Ahmadinejad's campaign promises, with whose help he won the rigged parliamentary elections in March 2008.  What would happen to the mayor of the Holy City of Rome if he demolished the entire district in order to build a boulevard for the imminent arrival of the Messiah Jesus? Wouldn't he be removed from office if not declared insane? In contrast, the incumbent head of government of Iran regards himself as the immediate pioneer of the 12th Imam. For him, preparing for his return is "the most important task of our revolution."  He characterizes his policy as "the type of mission that was also entrusted to the divine prophets. It does not allow us to rest or even sleep for a moment." 
Such intimate contact with supernatural forces makes politics unpredictable. Why should a political leader worry too much about the strategic realities of this world when he knows that the Messiah will shortly come and take over the fate of this world? Even less reassuring is the fact that Ahmadinejad and his friends see a connection between the approach of the Shiite Messiah and the destruction of Israel. "The reappearance of the 12th Imam," a spokesman for revolutionary leader Ali Khamenei said in November 2006, "will bring about a war between Israel and the Shia. The main war will decide the fate of humanity." 
It is this unique ideological concoction - anti-Semitism, revolutionary ideology, messianism - that makes Iranian nuclear development so unprecedentedly dangerous - that mixture of Holocaust denial and high-tech, of world conquest fantasy and rocket research, of apocalyptic expectation of salvation and plutonium. Why is Iran pressing ahead with its nuclear program at all costs? Ahmadinejad put his answer in August 2007 as follows: "The nuclearization of Iran is the beginning of a fundamental change in the world". Iran's nuclear technology, he further promised, would be "placed in the service of those who are determined to confront the brutal powers and aggressors." 
This statement shows that the Iranian nuclear program is designed neither for energy purposes nor for the purpose of deterrence or even defense, but as an instrument of "fundamental change" not only in the region but in the world. Second, Ahmadinejad's words make it clear that Iran intends to pass on its nuclear capabilities to other regimes or movements without scruples. The Iranian regime leaves no doubt at what point on earth it intends to begin its "revolution". "The Zionist regime will be erased and humanity will be liberated," the Iranian President promised the participants at the Holocaust denier conference in Tehran in December 2006. 
Since 1945, the world has grown accustomed to the notion of nuclear weapons owned by secular or semi-secular powers. But in Iran we are faced with something new. Here, for the first time, the bomb's destructive potential is combined with the fury of the declared war of religion, with belief in paradise and the ideology of martyrs. It is this link to a global religious mission that makes the Iranian nuclear program the greatest threat on the globe today. The likelihood that an Iranian atomic bomb will lead to World War I in the 21st century is simply too great to be taken for granted.
Nonetheless, civil society, journalism and politics in Germany have so far mainly listened, looked the other way, soothed and calmed down. One would still like to see a "partner, not an opponent" in this regime.  The German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Tehran declared in December 2007, two and a half years after Ahmadinejad's presidency began: "Germany does more business with Iran than any other European country; the annual trade volume is estimated at 5 billion euros. At least 1,700 German companies are active in Iran. Around 75 percent of all small and medium-sized companies in Iran are equipped with German technology. " 
Ahmadinejad's word about the "black and dirty microbe" went unmentioned in the German media; the federal government held still. After all, the EU Council Presidency set up by Slovenia criticized his statement as "unacceptable, harmful and uncivilized". The Iranian Foreign Ministry responded promptly. This criticism is "biased and irresponsible" and a consequence of the pressure exerted by the "international Zionist lobby". In the past one would have said "World Jewry".
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