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Society & Culture

Special Report: The Bone-Chilling Insanity of Iran's 'Jewish Studies Center'

April 26, 2022
Behnam Gholipour
12 min read
The so-called Jewish Studies Center is dedicated to promoting virulent propaganda and fantastical theories about the history and nature of the Jewish people
The so-called Jewish Studies Center is dedicated to promoting virulent propaganda and fantastical theories about the history and nature of the Jewish people
Isfahani clergyman Keyvan Izzati is the official editor-in-chief and also runs a separate, state-owned antisemitic website
Isfahani clergyman Keyvan Izzati is the official editor-in-chief and also runs a separate, state-owned antisemitic website
In 2018 Izatti was honored at a festival celebrating the "imminent collapse" of Israel, attended by leading IRGC and IRGC-affiliated figures including current foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
In 2018 Izatti was honored at a festival celebrating the "imminent collapse" of Israel, attended by leading IRGC and IRGC-affiliated figures including current foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
The 'Jewish Studies Center' and countless other websites like it fuel anti-Jewish hatred and conspiratorial thinking in parts of Iranian society
The 'Jewish Studies Center' and countless other websites like it fuel anti-Jewish hatred and conspiratorial thinking in parts of Iranian society

Within the nexus of unaccountable bodies that make up the Iranian state, the Revolutionary Guards, the Foreign Ministry, Religious Endowments Organization and a number of others are also supporters of a virulent antisemitic supposed think-tank by the name of the Jewish Studies Center.

Since its inception in 2016, the site has published more than 1,000 antisemitic articles, reports, comment pieces, books and videos, arranged into 10 categories with such titles as the “Jews and the Media”, "Jewish Methods" and "Jewish Corruption". IranWire’s correspondent took on the thankless task of poring through the content of this website as an addendum to our earlier, longer examination into Iranian state-sponsored antisemitism.

 

***

The managing editor of the so-called Jewish Studies Center is a young Isfahani clergyman by the name of Kayvan Ezzati, also the editor-in-chief of the website Rasekhoon, which is similarly saturated with antisemitic content but belongs to Iran’s Religious Endowments Organization. In 2018, Ezzati won an award at the anti-Israeli “International” Hourglass Festival, whose biggest sponsor is the Seraj Organization: the IRGC’s most important online affiliate.

The festival was dedicated to antisemitism under the guise of supporting Palestinians. In its final ceremonies that year, among the honored guests were Ahmad Vahidi, president of Iran’s Supreme National Defense University, General Esmail Ghani, now the commander of the IRGC’s expeditionary Quds Force, Abdallah Safi-Al-Din, Lebanese Hezbollah's envoy to Iran, and Ahmad Ghayoumi, vice president of Seraj. Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, now Iran’s heavily IRGC-aligned foreign minister, was the head of the organizing committee.

Ezzati and other operators of his “think tank” claim the site is “completely private, its articles prepared with the collaboration of university professors and seminary teachers, not funded by the government, its budget provided by financial contributions from members”. It has so far refused to disclose what the budget is or who the members are.

The reason for this secrecy – or at least, the reason given by career antisemites – is a fanciful idea, often touted by the Islamic Republic, that activities against Jewish people and the Baha’i community could put a person’s life at risk.

In July 2021, a board member of Qom Seminary’s Cyberspace Studies Association, Mohammad Hossein Faraj-Nejad, was killed along with his family in a road traffic accident. He also happened to be a teacher of “Zionist studies” and the administrator of a Persian-language antisemitic website. Some of his friends therefore claimed the accident had been “suspicious” and that he and his family had likely been killed by Jewish or Israeli agents.

 

Claims Made by the Jewish Studies Center

 

In many of texts published by this hate-filled website, Jews are presented as a “blood-thirsty”, “deviant” people who are guilty of “infanticide”. The site tries to present Israel and the Jewish people as one and the same, and claims “Israeli infanticide” is permitted in Judaism. One article claims that the roots of “child-killing” by Zionists in Palestine lies in the Old Testament, which “both the Jews and Christians believe in.”

Another article, filed under the category “Jewish Ethnic Traits”, explicitly calls “Jews and Judaism” perfect lab subjects for psychologists and psychiatrists to observe in order to  verify their theories about pathological behavior in action. Echoing many Islamic Republic officials, another claims: “one of the most distinct characteristics of the Jews is their animosity towards religion and God… even murdering divine prophets.”

Another part of the website offers uninvited and unqualified critique on “Jewish Texts”, with tens of diatribes on

The site has also published tens of critiques on the Kabbalah, a type of Jewish mysticism, trying to show this school of thought is rooted in the so-called “Satanist movement”. The site explicitly claims  the cabalists “do not deny their fundamental relations with Satan and confess that throughout the centuries Satan has been their leader, and the organizer of their movement.”

 

Jewish History Under an Antisemitic Lens

 

One key part of the website contains articles and theories about Jewish history, again mostly focused on the contemporary matter of Israel. One article claims that eventually “Iranians” will destroy Jewish power and influence in the world: “God, through Iranians, prepares the ground for the coming [of the Mahdi, the “hidden” 12th Imam of Shiite Muslims]...and the eventual destruction of the Jewry shall be achieved by the Mahdi.”

The false identification of all Jews with Israel has been an unwavering domestic and foreign policy strategy of the Islamic Republic from the beginning. In one of its articles, Jewish Studies Center presents the basic assumptions of this strategy this way: “From the viewpoint of the Zionist leaders, Palestine is only the first cornerstone of the Jewish state,  and this state can only get bigger, and can never become smaller. ‘Greater Israel’ is a popular term among the Jews and it originates from the combination of the current Israel and the Palestinian occupied territories.”

The site also claims that Jews have won 14 Novel prizes in various fields because of their disproportionate power and influence – a common antisemitic myth – and for years now this prize has been at the service of the “chosen people”.

 

How Jews Conspired against Islam from the Beginning

 

With around 50 articles and commentaries, an entire segment of the website, entitled “Jewish Plots”, exists to accuse Jews of having had a hand in unhappy historical events in Iran and the Islamic world.

“In early Islam, the Jewish espionage outfits acted with accuracy and finesse,” announces an article in this category that goes on to claim that the Jews played a role in the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the third Shia Imam, in 680 AD. It even claims that Abd al-Rahman ibn Muljam, the man who assassinated Ali ibn Talib, the first Shia Imam and the fourth Muslim calif, was a Jew.

The Center also accuses Jews in the early days of Islam of fabricating hadiths, records of the words and actions of Prophet Mohammad in the Quran, and of “massacring Muslims”.

After the IRGC Quds Force General Ghasem Soleimani was killed by an American drone strike outside Baghdad Airport in January 2020, the site published an article entitled The Role of Western-Jewish Rationality in the Martyrdom of Commander Soleimani. True to form, it sought to connect this incident to “the Jews”.

Yet another article implicitly accused Jewish people of murdering the Prophet Mohammad and his daughter Fatima: an accusation contrary even to Muslim tradition, which holds that the prophet died a natural death.

The Jewish Studies Center has also published several articles on so-called “Crypto-Judaism” and “Zionist Muslims”, two terms used for years by some fringe Islamic Republic officials to effectively cancel their rivals, political opponents and civil rights activists by suggesting they are “hidden Jews”.

 

Jews and “Deviant” Religious Sects

At least 50 other articles on this website claim Jewish people have been behind the creation of various unrelated religious sects in the world. Quoting the historian Abdollah Shahbazi, former president of the Political Studies and Research Institute, a body indirectly controlled by the Intelligence Ministry, one article claims that Maneckji Limji Hataria, a 19th-century Indian scholar and civil rights activist of Parsi Zoroastrian descent, was both the chief of the government of British India’s intelligence network in Iran and one put there to carry out “Jewish plans” in Iran.

Jewish and Parsi Plutocrats: British Imperialism and Iran was a five-volume book written by Shahbazi who for 10 years was the president of the Political Studies and Research Institute. The website quotes Shahbazi as saying that Maneckji’s activities included “supporting, strengthening and promoting Babism”, “founding and promoting Freemasonry in Iran, “making Iranian culture revere its ancient history” and “strengthening some Sufi sects in Iran.”

The site also quotes another text by Shahbazi that claims the “hidden Jews” (known as the Anusim) were an important factor in the emergence and spread of Babism and Baha’ism in Iran, although “the Anusim aside, the role played publicly by the Jews in promoting... Babism and Baha’ism in Iran was also significant.”

An article on this site goes further still, alleging that Jews play a central role in promoting Satanism around the world.

 

Character Assassination and Conspiracy Theories

In at least 30 articles, the Jewish Studies Center has tried to portray the Jewish people as promoters of corruption, drug trafficking, superstition, racism and homosexuality around the world.

For the dour clergy-dominated the Islamic Republic, the fashion industry is a perfect symbol of “corruption” and, according to one article on this site, Jews use “immoral policies such as bribery, feinted price wars, money laundering, drug trafficking and mixing sex and violence in advertising their merchandise” to achieve their “goals”.

The site names Capezio, a manufacturer of dance shoes, apparel and accessories, fashion designers Isaac Mizrahi and Tommy Hilfiger and the Iranian-Jewish high-end menswear and fragrance mogul Bijan Pakzad as examples of “nodes” in a wider conspiracy.

In another article, the author tried to link the pedophilia of certain artists and wealthy figures such as Jeffrey Epstein to Jewish teachings, and to suggest that sexual abuse of minors was approved by Judaism. Another article, entitled The Zionist Sexual Utopia, claimed that “in the same manner as the Jews advertise a sexual utopia in selling their products, many theoreticians and owners of [Jewish] companies have repeatedly affirmed their boundless sexual freedom.”

The same logic was used to link drug trafficking to some Jewish figures, suggesting they played a major role in the narcotics trade. The example used, however, went back to the 19th-century Opium Wars and an untested allegation about the usual Jewish suspects, the Rothschild family.

This fallacy is repeated in a bid to show that the Jews commit and promote “all kinds of corruptions” in the world, including prostitution: “Throughout history,” one such poisonous article reads, “whenever huge profits are involved, at least part of the enterprise has been in the hands of the Jews. One of the skills of these gods of commerce is the business of pornography and prostitution.”

Naturally, it doesn’t stop here: “The Zionist regime is one of the promoters of homosexuality in the world and it the organizer of promotional events like homosexual marches in various cities. Tel Aviv is the homosexuals’ favorite town in the world.”

 

Scientific Conspiracy Theories

In at least 100 articles, the Center posits an imaginary relationship between Jewish people and nefarious biomedical schemes. One article in this set states that Albert Bourla, a Greek-American veterinarian and the chairman and CEO of Pfizer, is a Jew and, therefore, that the world’s first verified Covid-19 vaccine has a link to Zionism.

After Ayatollah Khamenei banned the use of Pfizer and others made by American and British pharmaceuticals, claiming they “could not be trusted”, thousands of Iranians died needlessly.

Another subject in the same piece was Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at Moderna. The article notes that Zaks was born in Haifa and got his medical degree from Ben Gurion University. The sentence ends with a “gotcha!” exclamation mark.

Several other articles in the same website section try to portray Jews as responsible, variously, for cancer, climate change, the production of weapons of mass destruction, bio-terrorism, and efforts to genetically alter humans. In other words, they, too, blame the Jews for every problem the world faces, and the ones it doesn’t.

Two articles on the site specifically promote the idea that Jews wanted to destroy Iranian agriculture, manipulate Iran’s food supply and reduce the population of Iran. “Vigilance by the people as the final consumers of food products through a complete boycott of [Jewish] transgenic produce can save the lives of Iranians from this targeted calamity,” it says.

 

The Hackneyed Celebrity Narrative

No fewer than 150 articles on the Jewish Studies Center’s website pay homage to an age-old myth about Jewish people dominating the media and entertainment industries.  Hollywood is a point of fixation for authors that claim it espouses pro-Jewish and pro-Israel “hidden messages”.

“Hollywood, run by the Jews, does not offer the truth about the lives of the prophets but, depending on political expediencies, it promotes what Israel wants,” announces one article. “By examining Zionist myths we can understand Hollywood cinematic myths because, according to experts, around 90 percent of Hollywood is Jewish and Zionist.”

Elsewhere the “think tank” claims “Zionists hunt for movie stars so that they can exploit them for the realization of their political and propaganda objectives,” citing Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren and Kirk Douglass as examples.

“By studying the history of the Jewish Hollywood and its anti-Muslim and anti-Islam movies you can see how much the Jews hate Islam”, declares another piece that accuses Hollywood of propaganda against Mahdism: the semi-apocalyptic Shia belief that the twelfth Imam will one day reappear to save humanity.

Still another bizarre article, Sports and Politics in Jewish Thought, claims that Zionist leaders have tried to use football for their political goals – that Israeli footballers are in fact “soldiers sent for specific missions.”

 

“Partners in Crime”

Like other arms of the Islamic Republic’s antisemitic propaganda apparatus, the website accuses various Iranian political figures as having been “hidden Jews”. One historical figure it names is Mohammad Mosaddegh, the Iranian prime minister who was overthrown in a CIA-engineered coup in 1953, and who is seen by many Iranians as a champion of secular democracy and genuine resistance to foreign domination of Iran.

The site’s list of the “servants of Zionism” runs to well-known and frequently popular figures in politics, literature and philosophy, such as Homayoun Sanaatizadeh, a writer, translator, and the founder of Iran's branch of Franklyn Publications known for his attempts to fight against poverty and illiteracy, Mohsen Salasi, translator of sociological and anthropological works, Khashayar Deihimi, a translator of literary and philosophical texts, Badiozzaman Forouzanfar, a scholar of Persian literature, Iranian linguistics and culture, and Shojaeddin Shafa, writer and translator. Naturally, most figures linked to the former Shah and royal family are also not spared the charge.

 

Holocaust Denial

The Jewish Studies Center has predictably published several items dedicated to pushing the “Holocaust Myth” conspiracy theory. “The myth of Holocaust has caused tens of billions of dollars from the US and more than that from Germany to flow into the pockets of Jews,” declared one. “The Holocaust kindled the fires of Zionism around the world. The story of the Holocaust united the Jews across the world and provided the financial and political support that Israel needed to establish itself and survive.

“Today,” it went on, “the Holocaust has turned into a new religion in the West and it has become so sacred that expressing any doubt about its truth can lead to prosecution.” These laws, it claimed elsewhere without evidence, were imposed on foreign sovereign soil by Tel Aviv.

 

The Antisemitism Project in Iran

A review of more than a thousand pieces and articles published on this site, which also separately presents tens of antisemitic and anti-Israeli books for download — all supported financially and otherwise by the Revolutionary Guards — leaves no doubt that antisemitism in the Islamic Republic has turned into a government project, and frankly, another form of state-sponsored terrorism against the Jewish people.

 

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