The Silence of the Iranian People Regarding the Palestinian Issue

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The Silence of the Iranian People Regarding the Palestinian Issue

The silence of the Iranian people regarding the issue of Palestine

The silence of the Iranian people regarding the issue of Palestine, one month after the sudden attack by Hamas militants against Israel, which once again ignited a war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, has raised the question of why the Iranian people do not support the Palestinians as expected by the government.

In recent weeks, thousands of people in Western countries have held protests and marches calling for an end to the war in Gaza and condemning the killing of civilians, including children. However, it cannot be denied that there has been no spontaneous and popular gathering in Iran in support of the Palestinians, and whatever has happened has been related to government preparations and planning.

Why are the Iranian people indifferent towards Palestine?

In the limited political and media space inside Iran, some political figures and media outlets have confirmed this lack of independent support by Iranians for the Palestinians, although they have simultaneously tried to bring up this issue with a strong anti-Israel sentiment in order to avoid government scrutiny.

For example, the affiliated online website of Etemad newspaper wrote an article titled ‘Why didn’t Tehrani people like the people of Paris, Istanbul, and London protest for Gaza while attacking the Islamic Republic supporters?’ claiming that the majority of Iranians still support Palestinians.

This media outlet states that if Iranians do not take to the streets like people in other countries to support Palestinians, it is because they are reassured that both the leadership and other authorities are supporters of Palestinians.

However, prior to this report, Etemad newspaper, quoting former diplomat Kourosh Ahmadi, explicitly wrote about us Iranians and the Palestinian issue, stating that the most noticeable reaction of most Iranians to this crisis is indifference. Mohammad Javad Zarif, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic, also recently confirmed the implicit lack of support from the Iranian people for Palestinians in his remarks, despite the usual rhetoric of Islamic Republic officials against Israel.

He spoke in a meeting in Tehran about the issue of Palestine, saying that our constitution states that Iran should defend the oppressed, but it does not mean that we should fight in place of the oppressed. Without explicitly opposing the government’s policies in the region, he added that I also believe that people are tired of paying the cost, and there is no need for us to bear the cost.

Prior to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, political analyst Sadegh Zibakalam had said that if a referendum were held in Iran, the majority of the people would be against Israel’s policies. The United States and the European Union consider Hamas, which is supported by the Islamic Republic, as a terrorist group.

The changing meaning of the term ‘oppressed’ in the Islamic Republic

Since its inception, the foreign policy identity of the Islamic Republic has been defined by its anti-American and anti-Israeli stance, and it has incurred significant costs to confront the West and destroy Israel. Tehran officials claim that the policy of opposing Israel and supporting proxy groups in the region is based on a fundamental principle of the Islamic Republic’s constitution, which states that the country’s foreign policy should be based on Islamic criteria, brotherly commitment to all Muslims, and unconditional support for the oppressed people of the world.

However, the government’s slogan of supporting the underprivileged is very familiar to the people inside Iran, and the experiences of organizations that were established in Iran after the revolution with this slogan have made the government’s intentions and purposes clear. For example, the Foundation of the Oppressed of the Islamic Revolution, which was created from the confiscated properties of certain groups of people, not only did not reduce poverty and discrimination statistics, but also turned into one of the centers of financial corruption in Iran.

Another example is the Basij Organization of the Oppressed, also known as the Basij Resistance Force, which currently has no practical effectiveness other than suppressing critics, opponents of the Islamic Republic, and ordinary protesting people in the streets and markets. In a situation where the government’s promises to help the underprivileged have not been fulfilled, consecutive waves of protests have followed, and the officials of the Islamic Republic have tried to defend their performance by fundamentally changing the meaning of the term ‘underprivileged’ in the public perception.

Four years ago, in a public speech, Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, openly stated that the term ‘oppressed’ does not refer to vulnerable social classes, but rather to the Imams, leaders, and potential successors of humanity and inheritors of the earth. This new interpretation of ‘oppressed’ by Khamenei was officially endorsed by the top government official, stating that the existing resources and capital should be spent on the rulers and powerful, not ordinary people.

Therefore, the understanding of what is mentioned in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic as unconditional support for the oppressed of the world has been implemented in the ideology of the Islamic Republic as a means of power struggle and expansion of governance beyond the borders of Iran, exacerbating the crisis in the Palestinian issue.

Furthermore, the contradiction of this interpretation of all Muslims and the oppressed of the world in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic has now been revealed by the evident silence of the Tehran government regarding the treatment of Uighur Muslims by the Chinese government. To the extent that every news of the persecution and harassment of the Uighurs by the Chinese government turns into a matter of public concern in Iran due to the silence of the Islamic Republic on this issue.

The fate of Palestine is entangled with the Islamic Republic.

Since its establishment, the Islamic Republic has strongly suppressed left-wing groups and instead supported Islamic-oriented groups in their advocacy for the Palestinian issue. This support has involved extensive financial and military aid to various quasi-military groups in the region, including Palestinian Islamic groups. However, this support has only led to the expansion of terrorism and the birth of terrorist groups.

As the latest example of the consequences of this support, and as recently stated by eighty political and civil activists, Hamas’ recent attack against Israel has diverted the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people into the blind alley of terrorism. The protesting people of Iran, through their ongoing series of protests, have expressed their opposition to the Islamic Republic’s policy with slogans such as ‘Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life is dedicated to Iran’.

In a report titled ‘In Iran, people are against the regime’s support for Hamas’, published by the International Courier on Thursday, 17th of Aban, it is stated that a significant portion of Iranian society believes that power should be focused on domestic issues rather than the Palestinian problem.

The people of Iran know from their own experience that the ideology of the Islamic Republic is opposed to any kind of compromise, and the consequence of this approach is nothing but political blockade, sanctions, and suppression. The silence of Iranians during the recent war can be interpreted as the first aid to the Palestinians and the most effective way to establish lasting peace in the region is to end the Islamic ideological approach and find another solution to the Palestinian issue.


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