Although Iran's traditional anti-Israel marches are cancelled this year due to the spread of coronavirus, President Hassan Rouhani said that people will be able instead to march by cars, join a motorized phalanx or join an online event organized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Pictured: A Quds Day event in Tehran on May 31, 2019. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)
Iran has been the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East. Iran's regime has been accused of both covering up the scope of the virus in the country and spreading the disease across the Middle East. While many of the 186 countries that China has afflicted with the virus are focused on addressing the immediate problem, the ruling mullahs of Iran instead appear mostly busy furthering their anti-Israel agenda.
Recently, Iran's parliament, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, unanimously approved an "urgent bill" directed against Israel. We are therefore to assume, it would seem, that passing a bill against the State of Israel was more "urgent" for the Iranian regime than concentrating on protecting the lives of the Iranian population during this public health crisis.
The bill names Jerusalem as the everlasting capital of Palestine and requires the Iranian foreign ministry to set up a "consulate or virtual embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Capital of Jerusalem in Palestine" within six months of the passage of the bill. After the bill was approved -- according to Al-Manar news, affiliated with Iran's proxy terrorist group, Hezbollah -- the Iranian lawmakers chanted, "Down with Israel!"
The chairman of Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Mojtaba Zonnour, explained that the bill was introduced because the annual worldwide International Quds (Jerusalem) Day rallies were cancelled this year.
Although the traditional anti-Israel marches are cancelled this year due to the spread of coronavirus, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that people will be able instead to march by cars, join a motorized phalanx or join an online event organized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The Quds Day rallies to show support for the Palestinian cause, which are held in almost 80 countries including Canada, Austria, the UK, and Germany, generally include anti-Israel chants and anti-American slogans such as "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." The Iranian government also normally showcases ballistic missiles which are capable of hitting Israeli territory. According to United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) "The rhetoric [in the Quds Day rallies] often slides into overt anti-Semitism including characterizations of Zionism as a cosmic evil and statements denying the Holocaust."
The Iranian regime initiated the annual International Quds Day event in 1979, the year of its Islamic revolution; since then, it has been it is held every year on the last Friday of Ramadan. When the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini established the event, he said, "I ask God Almighty for the victory of the Muslims over the infidels."
The passing of the anti-Israel bill by the Iranian parliament amid the coronavirus shows that one of the core pillars and revolutionary priorities of the Iranian regime is its deep hatred towards Israel and desire to destroy the Jewish state -- as well, evidently, of all other "infidels."
The Deputy IRGC Commander, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, several years ago threatened on Quds Day:
"In Lebanon alone over 100,000 missiles are ready at all times to fly... at the heart of the Zionist regime. Tens of thousands of other missiles... have been planted across the Islamic world and are awaiting orders so that with the push of a button a sinister and dark dot on the political geography of the world (Israel) disappears forever."
According to PressTV, Iran's Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated, in addition:
"The Zionist regime — as we have already said — will cease to exist in the next 25 years if there is a collective and united struggle by the Palestinians and the Muslims against the Zionists."
Iran's Supreme Leader also published a 416-page book titled Palestine, with a cover featuring a map that includes Palestine having supplanted Israel. On the back cover, the Ayatollah is characterized as "the flag bearer of Jihad to liberate Jerusalem." In the book itself, Khamenei also articulates in detail his plan for destroying Israel.
Despite the coronavirus, the ruling mullahs of Iran continue their aggressive policies. As Israel's Foreign Ministry Director of Policy, Planning and Assessment Uri Resnick stated, "Despite the humanitarian and health crisis, we do not see a sign that they [Iranian leaders] have abandoned their behavior" concerning nuclear development and sponsoring terrorism.
Not only have Iran's ruling clerics failed to rein in their rogue behavior amid the coronavirus, they seem instead to be exploiting the "distraction" to boost their expansion. Iran has further entrenched itself in Syria and Lebanon, including that included building a new underground weapons-storage facility at Iran's Imam Ali military base in eastern Syria. They have boosted their support for Shia Iraqi militias and the Houthis in Yemen. They have rolled out a new missile on the way to developing intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons to Israel and any capital in Europe. And they have ratcheted up their anti-Israeli and anti-American agenda.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu