While Israeli fighter jets routinely pound sites of pro-Iranian militias in Syria, Tehran has found a creative way to respond: Tweeting posters of its imagined victory over Israel.
The posters, just one example of Iran’s expansionism propaganda, prove that Iran’s bark is louder than its bite.
In the last week Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweeted “art” about Jerusalem. The first poster showed the city under the control of Iran and its militias. The second showed Iranian officials and protegees praying at the Dome of the Rock, the third holiest site in Islam.
The title of the first poster read “the final solution” and caused an international stir for channeling Nazi propaganda that led to the Holocaust and the demise of six million Jews. Khamenei responded by saying he was not against the Jews, but against the existence of Israel.
There is so much going on in this new Quds Day Poster from #Iran's supreme leader's office, I don't even know where to begin. One observation is #Soleimani's photo is larger than every other photo--including #Khomeini. pic.twitter.com/Tg8aE2q7Lt— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) May 19, 2020
In Iraq’s Diyalah province, Iran’s Khomeini’s Foundation erected posters showing images of Yemeni Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi alongside slogans reading “death to Israel and America,” and “curse be on the Jews.” Khamenei might not say it in English or on Twitter, but among allies of the Iran-led “resistance axis,” animosity toward Judaism - not only Zionism - is widespread.
Khamenei attempted to rebut accusations against his hatred of Jews with a Twitter thread. He claimed the meaning behind his use of “final solution” was that the UN should hold a referendum over the fate of Palestine.
But the poster reflects a reality in Iran and its satellite countries: militia thugs standing on every corner, touting their arms.
In Khamenei’s mind, it seems fair if public opinion is goaded by violent non-state actors. Such thinking was reflected in a speech by Lebanese Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah, who said that “the image of those normalizing (with Israel) and surrendering does not reflect the true image of our nation.”
What Nasrallah clearly does not understand is that no nation has one solitary image or one single opinion. Arab and Palestinian preferences toward Israel vary between those who think turning a new page is the best course of action, and those who advise holding out for a better deal.
Nasrallah’s thinking that all Arabs support Iran’s maximalist position of categorically refusing to recognize Israel is at odds with the position of the Arab League and its Beirut Peace Initiative, which recognizes Israel and offers it full normalization in return for its withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
To Tehran, however, it does not matter what the Arabs or Palestinians think. Iranian art depicts crowds celebrating Iranian occupation of Jerusalem with posters of presumed heroes. Remarkably, except for a single picture of Hamas’ founder Ahmed Yassin, these illustrated crowds in Jerusalem do not celebrate any other Palestinian like late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who received the Nobel Peace Prize with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for their efforts to create peace with the Oslo Accords.
Instead, these crowds celebrate Iranian leaders Khomeini, Khamenei and Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi Abu Mahdi Al-Mohandes, Lebanese Nasrallah and Ragheb Harb, Iran’s other “allies,” like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, are not recognized in the imagined Iranian crowd in Jerusalem.
In a second poster released by Khamenei, al-Assad is depicted as standing somewhere in the fourth or fifth row, just before the rows where the faces of those praying become indistinguishable. Most visible are Iran’s Nasrallah and Hamas’ Ismail Haniyyah.
Khamenei's office has released a poster imagining a future Eid prayer in Jerusalem with Nasrallah and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in the middle row. In the next row? Ibrahim Zakzaky, Quds Force leader Esmail Qaani, and Abdul Malik al-Houthi. In the next row? Bashar al-Assad. pic.twitter.com/Z6jTjyEDOr— Séamus Malekafzali (@Seamus_Malek) May 24, 2020
Khamenei’s posters imagine a future Palestinian state where all the men in Jerusalem have grown their beards and all the women are veiled.
Khamenei does not understand how popular will can be gauged through ballot boxes. He does not understand how detrimental militias are to any state. He does not realize that calling for the destruction of a fellow member state of the UN is hate speech. He does not see that his diktats of what should happen in Palestine is Iranian imperialism, just like the imperialism that Iran spends its days complaining of.
Khamenei does not understand Arab culture, clothing style, or history, yet has the audacity to try to dictate his ideas on Arab societies. Unlike how Khamenei might perceive himself, he is no savior or liberator of the Arabs, but more like their nightmare.