The Regime in Its Own Words
The Islamic Republic of Iran has been internationally recognized for its anti-American and anti-Israel hatred. Leaders within the Islamic Republic have never hesitated to espouse their deep-seated disgust with the U.S. and Israel, and their harmful rhetoric has encouraged violence against both American and Israeli citizens. In order to understand Iran’s animosity toward the U.S. and our greatest ally, Israel, one must look no further than the infamous rhetoric of the regime’s leaders.
The Two “Satans”
Iran’s leaders often use the demonizing epithets “Great Satan” and “Little Satan” when referring to the U.S. and Israel. The terms were first used by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini during the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Khomeini described the U.S. as an imperialist nation that sponsors terrorism across the globe and demeaned Israel for the Jewish state’s close ties to the U.S. and relationship with the Palestinian people (1).
“Death to America! Death to Israel!”
Since the inception of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini, who served as the first leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, popularized the phrase “Marg bar Āmrikā,” Persian for “Death to America,” among supporters of the country’s regime. Following Khomeini’s lead, Iranian protesters have routinely used the chant outside of the then U.S. embassy in Tehran, most notably during the Iranian hostage crisis where 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days by a group of militarized Iranian college students who supported the Iranian Revolution (2). The phrase is also regularly chanted during Friday prayers and often accompanies the burning of the American flag. Following the U.S. embassy seizure in Tehran, Iranian leaders marked the anniversary, November 4, as a national holiday known as “Death to America Day.” Additionally, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has previously shouted the phrase while addressing the public in Iran.
During Quds Day, an annual event held since 1979 to oppose Zionism and Israel, “Death to America” is routinely chanted. In May 2018, the phrase was used when an American flag was burned in Iran’s parliament after the Trump administration withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iranian protesters are encouraged to chant “Death to Israel!” as well at gatherings in Iran while burning and stepping on both U.S. and Israeli flags. Recently, the Islamic republic marked the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution amidst the COVID-19 pandemic with tens of thousands riding within cars, motorcycles and bicycles. Demonstrators carried placards reading “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” according to reports. The Houthis, an Iranian-backed Shiite insurgent group that has emerged as a prominent force in Yemen, has also adopted the slogan, “Death to America, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews” (3).
Hateful Rhetoric Toward Israel
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini stated “We shall reject Israel and shall have no relations with it,” and “We must all rise to destroy Israel” (4). Iranian Armed Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi exclaimed in 2013 that “The Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel,” and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Maj, Gen. Hossein Salami announced in 2019 that “This sinister regime [Israel] must be wiped off the map.”
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who served as the president of Iran from August 2005 until August 2013, repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements aimed at delegitimizing Israel. Refusing to call the Jewish state Israel, Ahmadinejad referred to the country as the “Zionist regime” and urged for its elimination. By taking part in “The World Without Zionism” protest, the former president of Iran advocated for the destruction of Israel while continuing to provide aid to the Islamic State’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, to further launch attacks against Americans and Israelis (4).
Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei referred to Israel as a “cancerous tumor” that “will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed” in a speech meant to support Palestinians. Within his 30-minute speech that aired on state television, Khamenei further criticized the U.S. and the West for equipping Israel with “various kinds of military and non-military tools of power, even with an atomic weapon” (5).
The supreme leader has also compared Israel to the COVID-19 virus and published on his website a graphic that consisted of Orthodox Jews, Arabia and Iranian forces. Under the cartoon, the phrase, “final solution” was included. This phrase was used by Nazi Germany when describing its plans to murder millions of Jewish men, women and children during the Holocaust. When attempting to defend the poster, Khamenei stated that he seeks the destruction of Israel but not the annihilation of all Jews (5).
Hezbollah, which serves as Iran’s primary terrorist proxy and has attacked Israel on numerous occasions from Lebanon, has adopted the hateful rhetoric championed by the Islamic republic’s regime. Hassan Nasrallah, who serves as the secretary-general of Hezbollah, has stated, “Israel is our enemy…Its destiny is manifested in our motto: ‘Death to Israel.’”
Anti-American and Anti-Semitic Tweets from Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is internationally known for using social media to spread the Islamic republic’s anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric. Below are his recent abhorrent statements:
“Even though some govts started a treacherous, contemptible move toward normalizing relations with the Zionists, they’re too small to end the matter of Palestine. No! Palestine will be free, while the fake Zionist regime will perish. There’s no doubt about this” (6).
“The Zionist regime is the most evident example of state terrorism. Ever since Britain’s anti-Islamic, antihuman policies put the Zionists to rule Palestine, they have been acting like a cancerous tumor, furthering their goals by massacring children, women and men” (7).
“We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime, and we do not hesitate to say this” (8).
“The US is truly declining, & this has distressed & stunned some of their allies in the region. The #Zionist officials’ nonsense stems from their fear of the US domestic situation & they’ve realized this well. The world is watching US power decline internally & internationally” (9).
Following President Joe Biden’s statement in February 2021 that the U.S. will not end sanctions on Iran until it stops increasing its uranium enrichment levels, Iran’s Supreme Leader shared, “The Post U.S.-Era has started” (10).