Iran has in recent days unleashed a flurry of genocidal threats signaling its intention to try and destroy the state of Israel.
The messages have come at the height of a domestic Israeli debate raging over the question of a potentially imminent strike on Iran's rapidly advancing nuclear weapons program.
While Tehran routinely sends out threats of wholesale destruction against the Jewish nation-state, the past few days have been unusual due to the scope, frequency, and audacity of the threats.
The Iranian leadership, headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is guided by a hardline Shi'ite political-religious ideology which places non-acceptance of Israel's very existence at the top of its foreign policy agenda.
Through its commitment to this ideology, Iran remains the only state in the world that not only calls for genocide, in violation of the 1948 Convention Against Genocide to which it is a signatory, but calls for the destruction of another UN member state, in violation of the UN Charter to which it is also a signatory and which, if the UN ever implemented any of its own laws, should cause the ouster of Iran from that body.
These threats are a direct result of Iran's dark state ideology, although some of the most recent ones have been tailored to include an attempt to deter Israel from hitting Iranian nuclear sites. General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, for example, head of the Revolutionary Guard's air force, claimed he "welcomed" an Israeli strike because it would give Iran a reason to "get rid of Israel forever."
That speech was soon followed by a message from the head of Hezbollah, Iran's military proxy in Lebanon, armed with some 60,000 rockets pointed at Israel.
In a lengthy televised address, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said his organization could kill tens of thousands of Israeli civilians in a future war, by striking strategic Israeli sites with his rocket arsenal.
Alluding to sites such as plants containing hazardous chemicals, Nasrallah said, "Hitting these targets with a small number of rockets will turn ... the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists to real hell, and we can talk about tens of thousands of dead."
The main factor behind the upsurge in threats is the Iranian state-sponsored celebration of its annihilation policy towards Israel, which occurs on the fourth and last Friday of Ramadan every year.
The event is called "Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day," and involves mass rallies, speeches by Iranian leaders, chants of "Death to Israel," and placards bearing the same intent. Last week, Khamenei described Israel as a "cancerous tumor" and "the biggest problem confronting Muslim countries today," according to Iranian media reports.
"Many of the Islamic world's problems come from the existence of the sham Zionist regime," Khamenei added, in comments that are reminiscent of traditional anti-Semitic comments that could be heard everywhere before the Holocaust.
Khamenei also expressed hope that the "Arab spring" would hasten an Islamic "awakening" towards Iran's goal of obliterating Israel.
A few days before this, Khamenei called Israel a "bogus and fake Zionist outgrowth," adding that he was sure that "the fake Zionist (regime) will disappear from the landscape of geography."
President Mamoud Ahmaedinejad continued this threat by saying that "The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor."
Also last week, Brig.- Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, who heads Iran's Passive Civil Defense Organization and is a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, said there was "no other option but to destroy Israel."
"[Al-Quds Day] is a reflection of the fact that no other way exists apart from resolve and strength to completely eliminate the aggressive nature and to destroy Israel," Iranian state media outlets quoted Jalali as saying.
Even though Iran's menacing messages did not make many headlines in the international media, they did prompt a scattering of condemnations.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon described the threats as "offensive and inflammatory," although he did not announce any plans to cancel his attendance of a conference of non-aligned nations, scheduled to take place in Tehran later this month.
The EU's foreign policy and security chief Catherine Ashton also condemned Khamenei's comments as "outrageous and hateful."
What is critical in understanding the Israeli government's perception of the Iranian menace is that Jerusalem does not view these threats in isolation; it links them directly to the narrowing gap that separates Tehran from possession of nuclear warheads.
Some commentators have pointed out that Iran's regional influence in the Middle East is on the retreat, due to the impending loss of its Syrian ally, and the ascendency of the Sunnis.
But it is Sunni Islamists who are on the rise across the region, not subscribers to humanist liberalism. Once Iran goes nuclear, that breakout will trigger a regional arms race, and prompt Sunni states such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to rush to get nuclear weapons, too.
A nuclear arms race in one of the world's most volatile regions, involving countries ruled by hardline Islamists – whether Sunnis or Shi'ites – would create an intolerably dangerous environment, both for Israel and for global security as a whole.
To comprehend how a future Middle East would look under a nuclear Iran, one need only imagine Khamenei using a future "Al-Quds day" once again to threaten Israel with destruction -- only this time, on the same day that Iran tests an atomic bomb.