Since 1979, Iran has marked “Quds Day,” a show of hate for Israel, the West, and everything in-between, annually. But this year is different: it is the year in which Iran was supposed to have changed, opened up to the West, begun a new era of rapprochement and cooperation.
The persistence of the “eternal” (as described in the Iranian media) Quds Day, however, shows just the opposite – that nothing has changed in Iran since the signing and implementation of the nuclear deal, least of all its hostility to the West, belligerence, and neo-imperialist regional ambitions. Thus, this year’s “Quds Day” was, as every year, another excuse – orchestrated and spearheaded by the Iranian regime – to express hatred against the West, burn US flags and replicas of the Statue of Liberty (among other effigies), equate Western leaders with the Islamic State, and instigate anti-Semitic incidents.
While the media coverage of the events of the day was overwhelmingly critical, few articles dug deep enough to question Iran’s “moderate” rhetoric of moderation and cooperation in light of its “Quds Day” incitement, aggression, and rabble-rousing. The contrast, however, was plain to see: egged on by the so-called “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) deputy chief Hossein Salami (who warned of “100,000 missiles ready at all times to fly”), and other Iranian leaders, the masses rallied in the streets of Tehran calling for death to Israel and the US. Primary school children wore military fatigues and the headbands of suicide bombers, while billboards displayed Nazi swastikas. Is this the “new,” post-deal Iran? The spectacle of the “Quds Day” hate-fest is a stark reminder that far from ushering in a new era in 2016, Iran is still back in 1979.