On Thursday, July 28, the US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, Deborah Lipstadt, protested against an antisemitic tweet published on the Twitter account of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, and demanded that such messages stop.
Khamenei had called the “Western powers” a “mafia” with “Zionist merchants” at the top who give orders to elected politicians. The United States is their “showcase,” he added.
The Western powers are a mafia. The reality of this power is a mafia. At the top of this mafia stand the prominent Zionist merchants, and the politicians obey them. The US is their showcase, and they’re spread out everywhere.— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) July 27, 2022
Calls for Khamenei’s Twitter account to be shut down followed his statement. But in response, later on Thursday, his website said that Khamenei’s statement was part of a letter to be published called “The Truth of the West.”
“We denounce this continued, egregious antisemitism,” Lipstadt said. “This rhetoric is unacceptable – not to mention dangerous – especially from a head of state. It must cease.”
We denounce this continued, egregious antisemitism.— Special Envoy Deborah Lipstadt (@StateSEAS) July 28, 2022
This rhetoric is unacceptable – not to mention dangerous – especially from a head of state. It must cease. https://t.co/m2JmxRMUrz
Repeating the myth that the wealth of the world is in the hands of Jewish people and that, through this wealth, they control the political and economic affairs of the world, is an example of antisemitism. Khamenei’s tweet sparked a fresh debate of antisemitism among Iran’s ruling establishment – which has considerable precedent.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, when he was Iran’s president from 2005 to 2013, cast doubts on the reality of the Holocaust and the killing of millions of Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War. He and commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp also called for Israel to be erased from the map. Khamenei himself has has repeatedly talked about “the non-existence of Israel in the next 25 years.”
Khamenei’s use of Twitter to spread antisemitic messages occurs even as ordinary Iranians are blocked from using the social media network. Users inside Iran are forced to circumvent the block to gain access.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, the Australian-British university professor who was jailed in Iran between 2018-2020 on trumped-up espionage charges, called on Twitter to block Khamenei’s account.
Why does Donald Trump get banned for life from Twitter, yet @khamenei_ir is allowed to spew anti-Semitic bile across his feed in multiple languages with seeming impunity? @Twitter #hypocrisy https://t.co/AblBachMW6— Kylie Moore-Gilbert (@KMooreGilbert) July 29, 2022
In February 2018, four Republican senators wrote in a letter to Twitter’s Chief Executive Officer that, based on US sanctions against Iran, the user accounts of Ali Khamenei and Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister at the time, should be closed.