The force driving Iran's foreign policy is ideology: a Shi'ism that considers Jews 'unclean' and the unauthentic Jews and Christians of today 'infidels' - not protected peoples. Menashe Amir, chief editor of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Persian-language website explains in this JCPA brief (with thanks: Eliyahu):
"To grasp Iran’s ambitions and foreign policy, one must first understand the Islamic Republic’s religious ideology. The Iranian regime believes that the right religion for humanity is Islam, and the right sect of Islam is Shi’ism. An Iranian’s religious and national duty is to restore Shi’ism to its rightful position of leadership.
"To express his enduring respect for Judaism and Christianity, Ayatollah Khomeini used to say, “Moses is my right eye and Jesus is my left.” But in a meeting with Islamic ambassadors in Tehran, he also aired the view that today, given how diluted those faiths have become, there are no authentic Jews or Christians left.
"Iran’s ultimate aim is to establish global Islamic rule, a new Islamic empire, but this time under Shi’ite leadership. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself endorses the Shi’ite belief that once the Mahdi (“the Guided One”) makes his prophesied return, the whole world will convert to Shi’ism. This belief, strange as it may sound to Western ears, lies at the heart of Iran’s foreign policy, including its ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. It is for this reason that this ambition presents a grave problem not merely for Israel, but for Arab countries, Europe, and the whole world.
"Ahmadinejad once visited a painting exhibition in Tehran and remarked that there are two main arts in life: jihad and shahadah (“religious war” and “martyrdom”). That’s the essence of his ideology. During the Iran-Iraq war, the regime was criticized for engaging in a futile conflict that took the lives of half a million Iranians. The reply was that during the eight years of war, some seven million Iranians were born, so why cry over half a million killed “for the sake of Islam”?
"In his book Towzihol-Masael (The Explanation of Problems), Khomeini contended that Jews, Christians, Bahais, and Zoroastrians are considered infidels insofar as they refuse to accept Mohammad as a prophet, as are Sunnis, insofar as they don’t accept the twelve Imams of the Shi’ites. Khomeini then ruled that a Muslim mustn’t touch infidels, deal with them, or come into contact with them. Jews, in particular, are considered unclean. In his 1970 book Velayat-e faqih (Islamic Government), he portrayed the Jews as crooks, liars, and enemies of Islam.
"Iranian leaders call for the annihilation of Israel because these “unclean Jews” occupy the Muslim land of Palestine and hold the keys to the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque and other Islamic holy places. For tactical reasons, the Iranians take up the banner of the Palestinian cause in order to show the Arab countries that while they are making peace with the Jewish enemy, the Iranians are the only Muslims who uncompromisingly fight on behalf of the Palestinians.
"Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust for tactical considerations, too. By denying the Holocaust, the Iranians deny the legitimacy of the State of Israel and thereby gain respect in the Islamic world.
"When Ahmadinejad declared that Israel ought to be wiped off the map, he added that this was merely the first stage of the confrontation with the West, which, for all intents and purposes, means Christianity. Indeed, part of the animosity that Iranians express toward Judaism and Israel stems from the fact that they consider Judaism to be a pillar of the Christian faith. "
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