Elements of the Australian Government have continued to focus on building closer ties with Iran, even as the Iranian Supreme Leader openly calls for violent attacks on Jewish people.
In the last fortnight of May, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has repeatedly used his Twitter account to circulate antisemitic and anti-Israel hate. His comments have been echoed by other members of the Iranian regime, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who, in 2016 was welcomed to Australia by the then-Turnbull government.
For this, Khamenei and Zarif have been condemned internationally, including by United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Nikolay Mladenov and by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Israel has called on Twitter to ban him from the social media platform, arguing Khamenei breaches Twitter’s Hateful Conduct Policy.
Yet AIJAC understands that no Australian Government representative has so far publicly condemned the Ayatollah’s dangerous vilification and incitement.
Not only that, but during this time, Australia’s Ambassador to Iran, Lyndall Sachs has been out and about in Teheran. Most recently, the Ambassador rang the bell to open the Teheran Stock Exchange and held discussions to further economic cooperation between the two countries.
Khamenei’s Hateful Tweets
Among his tweets, the Iranian leader has called the creation of Israel a “Zionist cancerous tumour” and a “deadly cancerous growth”, adding “among crimes against humanity in recent times, there is no crime that equals this crime in terms of scope and gravity.”
Khamenei called for “firm, armed resistance” against the “Zionist regime”, an “utterly racist, usurping, malicious, false apartheid regime.”
He calls for Palestine to be liberated “from river to sea” and the “Zionist regime” to be “uprooted and destroyed” and confirms Iran’s key role in supplying weapons to declared terrorist groups Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah.
He also repeated conspiracy theories that Israel was created by “western and Jewish corporation owners” to “build a stronghold to influence and dominate west Asia” and that the civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, as well as ISIS, are all attributable to the “US and Zionists”.
Finally, Ayatollah Khamenei claims he is not antisemitic and argues “eliminating Israel does not mean eliminating Jews … Eliminating Israel represents elimination of the imposed Zionist regime.”
Australian Inconsistency on Iran
The official silence on Khamenei’s Twitter hate outburst again emphasises Australia’s inconsistent approach towards Iran.
In March, appropriately, Australia’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Richard Sadleir, condemned Iran for its failure to comply with the Iran nuclear agreement (JCPOA) and with IAEA requests. However, Australia apparently remains a public supporter of the flawed JCPOA nuclear deal.
Australia has also been criticised in some quarters for its quiet, behind the scenes, so far ineffective approach in attempting to secure the release of Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was imprisoned for 10 years in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons after a secret trial. Some commentators have raised concerns about the low-key approach chosen by the Australian Government, and even Government MPs have called for more to be done.
On antisemitism, as well as unjust criticism of Israel, this Australian Government has been on the front foot, particularly as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
This makes its failure so far to rebuke Ayatollah Khamenei’s latest remarks even more puzzling.
As our Ambassador in Teheran continues to strive to build stronger relations with a regime hellbent on the vilification of Jewish people, and the annihilation of the world’s only Jewish state, a more consistent and considered approach from the Australian Government, congruent with its true instincts, is surely warranted.