Iranian antisemitism and the Holocaust

Meir Litvak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Until very recently, the Islamic Republic of Iran was the only country whose leadership, official media, and a plethora of semi-academic institutions employed an unambiguous antisemitic discourse culminating in the denial and justification of the Holocaust. Iranian spokesmen as well as Western apologists of the Islamic regime often claimed that Iran distinguishes between Zionism and Judaism, and that this rhetoric is merely anti-Zionist, and therefore perfectly legitimate. Others contend that it is primarily a foreign policy tool intended to rally the support of the frustrated Arab masses behind Iran's regional policies. However, as I will show, Iranian discourse is thoroughly antisemitic in seeking to demonize the Jews as a whole, not just Zionists, often conflating both. In addition, while it serves Iran's regional aspirations, antisemitism constituted and continues to do so albeit in a toned down fashion, an important component of the Islamic Republic's official ideology directed at both Iranian and foreign audiences. In the past, the denial and occasional justification of the Holocaust represented the height of this antisemitism and had the purpose not only of demonizing the Jews but also of legitimating calls for the destruction of the state of Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAntisemitism Before and Since the Holocaust
Subtitle of host publicationAltered Contexts and Recent Perspectives
EditorsAnthony McElligott, Jeffrey Herf
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783319488660
ISBN (Print)9783319488653
StatePublished - 2017

RAMBI Publications

  • rambi
  • Anti-Jewish propaganda -- Iran
  • Anti-Zionism -- Iran
  • Antisemitism -- Iran -- History
  • Holocaust denial -- Iran


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