Iran's apocalyptic ideology revealed by Nazi expert, shattering years of liberal press' denial.

The theme of intellectual betrayal and the corrupting influence of political commitment.

From The Iranian Holy War: Antisemitism, Messianism and the Cult of Sacrifice by Matthias Küntzel (German expert on the use of antisemitism in imperialist conquest) in his speech to Columbia University, which invited the presentation of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We know that ideologies can make monsters out of some human beings and smoke out of other, innocent, ones. The gas chambers in Auschwitz did not begin with the construction of the buildings, they began with antisemitic words pronounced by antisemitic ideologues.

Today, Iran is the first and only country to threaten another UN member state with annihilation. “With God’s help, the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed”, announced the Iranian president. “By God’s will, we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future.” The shocking malice of such messages leads many people to suppress them or block them out.

I think our task is to do the opposite: To take the Iranian leader’s Weltanschauung seriously as a specific outlook with its own principles and history and to look inside Ahmadinejad’s fantasy world and seek to grasp the immanent logic behind his attacks, even if this involves insights which may send a shiver down the spine.

Our discomfort begins with the notion of holy war. Can a war ever be holy or the holy ever be a matter of war? The collocation seems to be taken from a historical movie. Continental Europe’s last religious war took place 350 years ago. America has never experienced a war of this kind.

But what we are faced with right now is precisely a holy war. In his first major speech, in October 2005, the one that gained him notoriety, Ahmadinejad declared that the Zionist regime in Israel “must be eliminated from the pages of history.” Many will recall this quote. But only very few people have read the rest of the speech and so understood the context of the threat. Let me please quote just three more sentences of this famous talk.

In it, Ahmadinejad said: “We are in the process of a historical war between the World of Arrogance and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years.”

So as we can see, the roots of this “historical war” have nothing to do with Israel or the Middle East conflict. The speaker views the destruction of Israel as a stage in a war that started long before the foundation of Israel. But what is meant by “World of Arrogance”? I will come back to this point.

He also said: “We have to understand the depth of the disgrace of the enemy, until our holy hatred expands continuously and strikes like a wave.” Here a religiously inspired feeling of superiority is contrasted with the “depth of the disgrace of the enemy.”

But the notion of a “holy hatred” is also striking. This hatred is unconditional: it cannot be moderated through any kind of Western or Jewish behavior. It currently expresses itself in the first instance as hatred of a recalcitrant and rather pro-Western Iranian people that has to be silenced through stonings, public executions, mass arrests, torture and censorship. Above and beyond this, the expression of this “holy hatred” is destined to “expand continuously” to a global level and to overwhelm the world like a mighty tsunami.

Third and final quotation from the speech: “In this very grave war, many people are trying to scatter grains of desperation and hopelessness. They ask: ‘Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism?’ But you had best know that this goal is attainable, and surely can be achieved.”

Imagine if the leader of a medium-sized Western country, for example Mr Berlusconi, the former Italian head of government, had made a speech in which he talked about a historical war against the Islamic world, denounced the “depth of the Islamic world’s disgrace”, summoned up Christianity’s “holy hatred” of Islam and finally pronounced the goal of erasing Saudi Arabia and Pakistan from the map realizable.

We know what the justified consequences would be: angry demonstrations and critical headlines throughout the world, a special meeting of the UN Security Council, condemnation by the General Assembly and so on.

The fact that the statements I have cited aroused no anger in the West and, indeed, barely registered with Western governments, media and academics – despite the fact that MEMRI published them back in October 2005! – speaks, I think, volumes about the current condition of the Western world.

In Europe the basic reflex of non-recognition works like this: if Ahmadinejad were to have said something of the kind, then the Bush administration might feel vindicated. And since we don’t like Bush, Ahmadinejad didn’t say it – end of story.

Here the perception of reality has been corrupted by political considerations. I know people who are afraid to write the truth about the Iranian regime because they are scared of immediately being placed in a political category where they do not (wish to be perceived to) belong.

While the suicide cult, the reverence for the Twelfth Imam and the contempt for democracy and reason are of Islamic provenance, this antisemitism, based on the notorious forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and fantasies about a Jewish world conspiracy, has far more to do with Nazi ideology, an ideology that was very popular in Iran in the 30s and 40s.

“The extermination of Jewry throughout the world,” declared a Nazi directive from 1943, is “the precondition for an enduring peace.” Liberation through annihilation. This is similar to the mission that Islamism has set out upon whose first target is Israel. As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put it, “The Zionist regime will be wiped out and humanity will be liberated.”

He reiterated this belief in his most recent speech at the United Nations in September 2007: “The age of darkness will end”, he enthused to the General Assembly and “the peoples in Europe and America will be liberated from the burdens the Zionists have inflicted on them”.

So let me now sum up on this final point: There are other dictatorships in the world. But only in Iran are the fantasy-worlds of antisemitism and religious mission linked with technological megalomania and the physics of mass destruction. The specific danger presented by the Iranian nuclear option stems from the unique ideological atmosphere surrounding it – a mixture of holy war and high-tec, of antisemitism and weapons-grade uranium, of death-wish and missile research, of Shiite messianism and plutonium."

This paper was presented at Columbia University, New York City, March 6, 2008 under the auspices of Columbia's chapter of "Scholars of Peace in the Middle East" (SPME) ·


  1. this leads to only one conclusion...and not a happy one for any of us...but sooner Iran is destroyed than us...sad really as Iran was and could be such a promising country.

  2. Joint Chiefs Chairman Says U.S. Preparing Military Options Against Iran
    Adm. Michael Mullen's statements and others by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently signal a new rhetorical onslaught by the Bush administration against Iran, amid what officials say is increased Iranian provision of weapons, training and financing to Iraqi groups that are attacking and killing Americans.

    In a speech Monday at West Point, Gates said Iran "is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons." He said a war with Iran would be "disastrous on a number of levels. But the military option must be kept on the table given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat."