In Iran, the Blood Libel Goes Mainstream

April 22, 2015 | Mehdi Khalaji
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A major Iranian news website, owned by a member of parliament, recently published an article arguing that Jews are “human history’s most bloodthirsty people,” which claims, among other things, that Jews use the blood of Christian children to make matzah. Mehdi Khalaji provides background:

Although anti-Judaism is well known in Iranian Islamic tradition and literature, . . . this is fundamentally different from modern anti-Semitism, which was imported into Iran by leftist and Islamist intellectuals and political activists before and after the 1979 revolution. Secular intellectuals were heavily influenced by anti-Semitic trends in Europe and the Soviet Union, while Islamists were influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Arab anti-Semitic writers. In addition, some Iraqi Shiite clerics transmitted anti-Semitic literature from the Arab world to Iran. . . .

Iranian officials are known to make implicitly and explicitly anti-Semitic statements against Israel and Jews, and the government makes no effort to curb anti-Semitic propaganda by local extremists. In the past, such statements were generally political, with some element of the traditional Muslim complaints about Jews falsifying God’s message and rejecting the true prophet Muhammad. Since 1979, however, the spread of more primitive anti-Semitic lies has increased, especially the blood libel, . . . [which] has been creeping into mainstream media for some time. . . .

In today’s Iran, anti-Judaic and anti-Semitic discourses are sometimes mixed in textbooks, media, religious [and] political propaganda, and secular intellectual literature. This helps the regime justify its anti-Israeli agenda in the region, casting Jews as genuine enemies who do not want to see the Islamic Republic progress, especially with regard to nuclear technology. What matters most is that such mixed discourse cannot easily be criticized inside Iran by those intellectuals who are concerned about the long-term negative ramifications of anti-Jewish sentiment.

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