In a series of eye-popping comments from the Iranian Prof. Sadegh Zibakalam, who teaches at the reportedly antisemitic Tehran University, he slammed the Islamic Republic of Iran for its avowed policy to destroy the Jewish state.
Tehran University Prof. Zibakalam said in a panel discussion that was posted to the New Harf channel on the Aparat Portal website on March 14, 2023, that "You people say that you are on a mission to annihilate Israel. Who gave you this mission? The Quran? God? The Prophet? The constitution? Who? Let's have a public opinion poll. IRNA, ISNA – all those regime outlets – can conduct it. If 50% plus one person of the Iranians say 'yes' then by all means, we should annihilate Israel. But I completely believe that not even 10% would say they want to annihilate Israel. [The regime] says that we should annihilate Israel, but 90% of the Iranian public says: 'Why? How is this our business? This is a conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli Jews. What does this have to do with us?'“
"You people say that you are on a mission to annihilate Israel. Who gave you this mission? The Quran? God? The Prophet? The constitution? Who? Let's have a public opinion poll. IRNA, ISNA – all those regime outlets – can conduct it. If 50% plus one person of the Iranians say 'yes' then by all means, we should annihilate Israel. But I completely believe that not even 10% would say they want to annihilate Israel. [The regime] says that we should annihilate Israel, but 90% of the Iranian public says: 'Why? How is this our business? This is a conflict between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli Jews. What does this have to do with us?'“Prof. Sadegh Zibakalam
The US-based organization Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) first translated Zibakalam’s statements and posted the broadcast of his critique of Iran’s clerical regime.
What else did the Iranian professor say?
Zibakalam said "Why was there a revolution [in 1979]? Because there were no free elections, no free press, no freedom to establish political parties and groups, and because there were 5,000 political prisoners and these prisoners were tortured.”
He added that "But we are not saying these things. Why can't we say these things? Because I would be spitting on my own face if I said that we [carried out a revolution] so that there would be free elections, and so that the judiciary would not be a servant to the ruling regime.”
Banafsheh Zand, an Iranian-American expert on the Islamic Republic, told The Jerusalem Post that “Zibakalam supported the revolution and the Khomeinist version of Shia Islam, which has always been an abject contradiction to the actual branch of Islam. Anyone with any knowledge of the nature of the two main branches of Islam and any honesty would have known that fact. That said, during the last decade or more, he has been openly criticizing the regime. He has done things like refused to walk over, and has walked around the US and Israeli flags that the Khomeinist regime has painted on the floors of their administrative buildings and offices.”
Ali Khamenei is the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Zand added that “But unlike other former regime supporters who have turned their backs on their past mistakes, and openly defy the regime, Zibakalam has not been arrested and jailed, which is one of the reasons why he is considered to be duplicitous and a phony. That said, he clearly understands that the end of the regime is drawing near and he should be encouraged to step up his criticism and even attack the Khomeinist brass.”
Zibakalam earned a PhD in political science from the University of Bradford in Britain. The Shah’s government imprisoned him for two years due to his criticism of the monarchy.
In 2018, the Iranian regime’s opaque judiciary banned Zibakalam from media work, social activities for a period of two years. The regime’s crackdown on Zibakalam resulted from a 2018 interview he gave to Deutsche Welle’s Persian outlet, in which he said internal public discontent was the primary factor of upheaval in the nation that year.
The clerical regime said the social unrest was due to Tehran’s external enemies. Prior to his media ban in 2018, Mizan, an Iranian regime-controlled news agency affiliated to the judiciary, said he was facing allegations of “spreading propaganda against the state through giving interviews to foreign websites and trying to discredit the Islamic Republic’s ruling system.”
Zibakalam said during the March interview: "What percentage of the Iranian public says 'Death to America'? What percentage says 'Death to England' or 'Death to France'? What percentage accepts your policy of becoming Russia's servant?”
Sheina Vojoudi, an associate fellow for the Gold Institute for International Strategy, told the Post that “Zibakalam is a reformist. The opponents of the Islamic republic don’t trust him. He’s like Mostafa Tajzadeh. They criticize the regime from inside Iran but they don’t believe in regime change. They want to save the Islamic Republic.”
Vojoudi, who fled the Islamic Republic due to persecution, told the Post that “The reformists speak well like Mohammad Khatami, Mohammad Zarif, Hassan Rouhani, Tajzadeh, Zibakalam but we call all of them regime’s sly fox, because whenever the regime was about to fall they saved it because the people believed that they really want to change something but it’s not true. The only power in Iran is Khamenei, his son and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The reformists only want more of a share of the power.”
Tehran University has long been a hotbed of genocidal antisemitism targeting Israel. The Iranian cleric Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Javad Haj Ali Akbari declared on Al-Quds Day in 2022 on the campus of Tehran University that “There won’t be any place for the Zionist regime in the world future.”
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, started Al-Quds Day in 1979 as a protest against Israel’s right to exist. The International Quran News Agency, a regime-controlled news website, also reported about a 2008 conference at Tehran University titled, “The rise of Islam, Destruction of Israel.” Fars News, an Iranian outlet affiliated with the IRGC, which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, published an announcement from the Basij professors at Tehran University stating that they will do everything possible to bring about the “destruction of the infamous Zionist regime.”