Ayatollah Khamenei and the Destruction of Israel

Akbar Ganji in the Boston Review:

ScreenHunter_386 Nov. 05 13.28In repeatedly claiming that Iranian leaders wish to destroy Israel and kill the Jewish people, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is spreading Iranophobia and helping to impose the most crippling economic sanctions in history on Iran. Netanyahu is belligerent in his claims: in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, October 1, Netanyahu mentioned Iran seventy times and “Rouhani”—not Mr. or President Rouhani—twenty-five times. He has also threatened that if necessary, Israel will attack Iran on its own, and claimed that Iran wants to “wipe Israel off the map.” He does not recognize Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear technology and energy—a right that Iran has as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—and has also claimed that Iran “is preparing for another Holocaust.”

How truthful are these claims? In the past, it is true Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei has spoken of destroying Israel, and Article 110 of the Islamic Republic of Iran stipulates that the Supreme Leader sets the general policies of the country. In practice, this means he decides whether to negotiate with the United States, and sets Iran’s policy vis-à-vis Israel. But there are major differences between the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Khamenei eras, and Khamenei’s thinking on Israel has changed over time. (The recent diplomatic initiative by President Rouhani, indeed, would not be possible if Khamenei had not given him “full authority.”)

With the end to the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, and the revolution in communications over the past two decades, respect for human rights and democracy has become so universal that even dictators can no longer ignore them.

More here.