Why is Iran pushing antisemitic dog-whistle on Israel ‘false flag’ attack?

The dog whistle claiming that Israel will be behind “false flag” attacks in Iran to bring the US and Iran to war is part of this history of blaming Jews for conflicts.

IRANIAN PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani (right) and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Who wanted to pay the price of moral action to truly stop Iran? (photo credit: DANISH SIDDIQUI/ REUTERS)
IRANIAN PRESIDENT Hassan Rouhani (right) and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Who wanted to pay the price of moral action to truly stop Iran?
Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif took a page from antisemitic history by claiming that Israel could be  behind a “fake casus belli” and conspiratorial plan to push Iran and the US toward war. He claimed that “new intelligence from Iraq indicate that Israeli agent-provocateurs are plotting attacks against Americans” and that this would lead to a “trap” for US President Donald Trump. Trump has vowed to hold Iran responsible for attacks against the US in Iraq. Iranian-backed militias have targeted US forces in Iraq since May 2019 in dozens of rocket attacks that have killed one US contractor and three members of the US-led international coalition. 

A year ago the US killed Iranian IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Reports indicate that Iran is on alert from the Persian Gulf to Iraq and that there is concern that Iranian-backed groups across the region could use the one-year anniversary of Soleimani’s death as an excuse to attack the US or Israel.  
Iran’s foreign minister has long sought to blame Israel for US tensions, often singling out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a warmonger and claiming the “B team” which is composed of US hawks and Israel “thirst for war.” Zarif, who was educated in the US and frequently speaks at US think tanks and is toasted in western capitals, knows that the language he uses is designed to appeal to a certain type of western conspiracy that sees Israel as behind US tensions with Iran. This conspiracy has antisemitic roots dating to the Elders of Zion conspiracy that argued Jews sought to control the world and blamed Jews for being behind every ill, from economic disaster to war. The dog whistle claiming that Israel will be behind “false flag” attacks in Iran to bring the US and Iran to war is part of this history of blaming Jews for conflicts.  
Over the years some have suggested a pro-Israel conspiracy to “drive” the US towards war. For instance, in 2017 an antisemitic conspiracy titled “America’s Jews are driving America’s Wars” sought to assert that “neo-cons” in the US, often a euphemism for Jewish commentators and policymakers close to the George W. Bush administration, were stoking tensions with Iran. This conspiracy has also claimed Israel was behind the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and other US wars in the Middle East.  
Malaysia’s antisemitic leader Mahathir Mohammed told the Organization of the Islamic Conference that “Jews rule the world by proxy, they get others to fight and die for them.” This antisemitic conspiracy has found root in Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and sometimes among members of the regime in Tehran. It is tied to claims that “ISIS was created by Israel and the US,” another conspiracy theory that Iran’s regime members have spread in the past. These conspiracy theories have also found their way to academics on US and British campuses and even been aired by members of political parties in the West who try to argue Israel “benefits” from conflict. For instance a 2012 terror bombing in Egypt was blamed on Israel, “in whose interest is it to kill Egyptians, other than Israel,” one suggested.
Zarif’s goal in this tweet is to lay the groundwork to blame Israel if Iranian-backed. Militias attack US forces in Iraq.  
This is a shift from Zarif’s claims in recent days that the US was provoking Iran by flying B-52s to the region. Reports on January 1 included claims that Iran believed the Trump administration might strike Iran before it leaves office. The US, to downplay concerns, said it was bringing an aircraft carrier home.
Meanwhile, Iraq says that one of its tankers was found with a mine on December 31, of the kind Iran used to mine ships in the Gulf of Oman in May and June 2019. In addition, Iran’s IRGC chief visited Abu Musa island in the Gulf to assess readiness to fight “enemies." Iran’s IRGC head of the aerospace program Amir Hajizadeh warned regional Arab countries that Iran would make no distinction between countries that host US troops and the US itself if war breaks out. These comments appear in contrast to Zarif’s “false flag” claims that seek to portray Israel as behind Iranian-backed militia attacks in Iraq. In August and September 2019 Iranian-backed groups in Iraq blamed Israel for airstrikes on their warehouses. Iran allegedly moved ballistic missiles to Iraq in August 2018 and November 2019, according to reports. Iran has a network of militias in Iraq, many paid by the Iraqi government but loyal to Iran, called the Hashd al-Shaabi. They frequently fire 107 mm rockets at the US embassy in Baghdad. They are often given orders by Ktaib Hezbollah, one of the strong pro-Iranian militias in Iraq. Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Badr, Harakat Hezbollah and several other militias also threaten US forces and have demanded the US leave Iraq.  
Rumors of conflict persist amid questions about why Trump, a known isolationist who has eschewed war in the past, such as after a June 2019 drone downing, would seek conflict with Iran. Trump warned Iran in December against harming US forces and has warned Iran not to attack us ships in April. Iraq’s Prime Minister has demanded the US and Iran not use Iraq for their proxy conflict. Meanwhile, reports indicated, as noted by NBC, that the US was seeing indications of a possible Iranian attack.
Zarif’s conspiracy theory is designed to make Israel to blame if Iranian-backed militias attack the US in Iraq. It is part of a carefully designed concept to seek to leverage a quiet campaign against Israel in the west that already blames Israel for Trump’s tough policy on Iran, by insinuating Israel is to blame for US-Iran tensions. Iran has often tried to use this talking point in the US to gain favor with pro-Iran groups and some voices in Congress, seeking to claim Israel is the problem and that if only the US would pivot toward Iran then things would be better. This talking point seeks to scapegoat Israel as the reason for bad US-Iran relations, as opposed to noting that it was Iran that held Americans hostage in 1979, that it was Iran that ordered attacks on US forces in the region, and that groups linked to Iran have been responsible for attacks on Jews in places like Argentina and waged attacks on Israel in the region and globally. Iran’s latest attempt is to build on antisemitic conspiracy theories once advanced in the Russian Empire and later adopted by Islamists to blame Israel and Jews for conflicts.
Israel has warned Iran not to increase tensions and demanded Iran stop entrenching in Syria in recent years. Israel’s latest IDF assessment says that 50 targets have been struck in Syria. Israel’s former chief of staff said more than 1,000 airstrikes had been carried out against Iranian targets in Syria. This is what Israel calls the “campaign between the wars.” Zarif can’t seem to get it straight whether to blame Israel for attacks, or allege that Israel is also behind Iranian-backed attacks on the US. Sheltering behind the “false flag” claim is bringing Iran’s regime into disrepute and the realm of antisemitic conspiracy theories. This latest tweet seems to give Iran's militias in Iraq a pass to attack the US, so Iran can then blame Israel.