Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speaking before the upper echelons of the Iranian regime
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Pictures from Jerusalem Day in Iran last year
1. On or around August 26 the Iranians mark International Jerusalem Day. They began in 1979 following a decision taken by the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Iranian regime on the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The objective of Jerusalem Day is to express the support of Iran and the Arab-Muslim world for the Palestinian cause and the "liberation of Jerusalem," to defame Israel and call for its destruction, and to defy the United States and the West in general ("the arrogant super powers").
2. This year's Jerusalem Day events occur on the backdrop of the popular protests in the Middle East against the Arab regimes, the events of Nakba Day and Naqsa Day, the campaign to delegitimize Israel and potential powder keg of the Palestinian arena in preparation for UN move in September. The Iranian regime may exploit all of the above in Jerusalem Day for propaganda and practical leverage against Israel. In our assessment, among other things the Iranians may encourage protests along Israel's borders, exploiting the current instability in Syria, Jordan and Egypt. The Iranians may also encourage demonstrators to cross the borders into Israeli territory (similar to the invasion of Majd al-Shams on Naqsa Day, which set a precedent) to make Jerusalem Day events provocative and violent, drawing wanted media attention to Iran and the messages it wants to send.
3. Jerusalem Day events are held in various locations every year:
1) Iran: Events are held in Tehran and other cities throughout the country. There are demonstrations, rallies and speeches given by Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and other senior Iranian figures. In previous years the events were exploited to call for the destruction of the State of Israel, for anti-Semitic propaganda (by identifying the Jewish people with Israel and "world Zionism") and anti-American and anti-West propaganda, rejection of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, attacks on the moderate Arab camp, support for Hezbollah and praise for the so-called "resistance" (i.e., terrorism). In past years those themes were expressed by Iran's supporters in various locations around the globe where Jerusalem Day events took place, and they can be expected to be used this year as well (with themes suitable for each individual country).
2) The Arab-Muslim world: In past years events were held in the Arab-Muslim world in countries with large Shi'ite populations and entities friendly to Iran. The traditional center outside Iran is Lebanon, where events are led by Hezbollah (Hassan Nasrallah is the keynote speaker). In 2010 Jerusalem Day events were held in the Gaza Strip (led by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad), Syria, (led by local Palestinians), Turkey, India, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.1 We do not currently have concrete information about proposed events this year with the exception of Turkey, where an event is planned for Istanbul on August 26, and Pakistan, where marches are planned for Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Hyderabad on August 26.2
3) Western and other countries: Last year Jerusalem Day events were held in the United States (in various locations, including Washington, DC), Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Norway, New Zealand, South Africa, India and Venezuela. They included strong anti-Israeli incitement, calls for boycotting Israel and expressions of solidarity with Hezbollah. This year as well Jerusalem Day events are planned around the world, including in Britain (where the main event will be held in London on August 21) and the United States (on August 26. One of them, in our assessment the most important, is planned for New York City). On August 26 events will also be held in Canada (Toronto), Noway (Oslo) and Nigeria (Zaria3).
Pictures from Jerusalem Day in Iran last year (Fars News, September 3, 2010): Burning the flags of Israel and the United States, both important Western focal points this year as well. Almost 20 organizations are expected to participate in British events this year, some of them radical Islamic, many of them involved in the campaign to delegitimize Israel (including boycotts of Israeli products, convoys, propaganda and attempts to bring senior Israeli figures to trial). Events will be held in several major cities throughout the United States, including one in Times Square.
4. While the campaign is clearly sponsored by Iran, senior figures in the Iranian regime represent it as an international Islamic event and attempt to attract the participation of Muslim communities in Western countries, using terminology acceptable and familiar to Western ears. For example, in Britain and the United States, use is made the terminology of the struggle for human rights, and individuals and organizations dealing with those rights have been enlisted to promote and participate in Jerusalem Day events. That is done despite the fact that the Jerusalem Day events are exploited by the Iranian regime for anti-West incitement, and despite the fact that the regime repressed the protest movement against it and supports the Syrian regime, which brutally oppresses its opponents.4
5. For example, Jerusalem Day events in Britain are organized by an Islamic human rights organization (the IHRC) headed by a human rights activist of Iranian origin. In our assessment, based on the list of participating organizations, in Britain the Iranians have succeeded in enlisting large numbers of those who represent the local Muslim populations. In the United States, Jerusalem Day is represented as an event expressing solidarity with all "the oppressed human beings of the world," especially with the Palestinians, "oppressed" by the "racist Zionist regime."
6. Two appendices follow:
1) Appendix I: Preparations for the "International Day of Quds," i.e., Jerusalem Day in Britain (Initial Findings)
2) Appendix II: Jerusalem Day events planned for the United States (Initial Findings)
1 For further information see the September 12, 2010 Bulletin "The Iranian regime took advantage of the annual Quds Day events to highlight an alternative political and ideological agenda to that of the US; strongly criticized the IsraelPA negotiations; called to continue the "resistance” (terrorism); and spread vicious incitement against Israel, the Jewish people, the US, and the West. " at. http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/as_e005.pdf
2 For details see the sindhstudy.com website.
3 Zaria is a major city in Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria, as well as being a local government area.
4 The Iranian regime recently exploited the riots in Britain for incitement against the British government. For example, the commander of the Basij, Sardar [two-star general] Muhammad Reza Naqdi attacked "the despotic British royalty" for "the crimes and violence" it employed against the so-called "oppressed of Britain." He suggested sending a number of Basij battalions to London, Liverpool and Birmingham to serve as a "peacekeeping force" which would create a buffer zone between "the forces of oppression of the royal regime" and the British people. The force would oversee the implementation of "human rights," and deter violence (Fars, August 11, 2011). The Basij is the popular militia of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards exploited in the past to oppress its opponents.