Two Takes on Al-Quds Day


Like most stories, the tale of today's Al-Quds Day celebration in Iran has at least two sides.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini established Al-Quds Day shortly after he came to power in 1979. Translated, Quds means Jerusalem. Khomeini created the holiday to demonstrate Iran's solidarity with Palestinians, and to emphasize Jerusalem's importance to Muslims. Historically, the holiday has served as an outlet for vitriolic anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rhetoric.
And although it originated in Iran, it is now celebrated by Muslims around the world.

Israel's Ha'aretz and the Arab world's Al-Jazeera reported on today's rallies this morning. But each publication highlighted different facets of the 31st annual celebrations.

Both Al-Jazeera and Ha'aretz led their coverage with Ahmadinejad's denigration of the current White House peace talks. According to Al-Jazeera, Ahmadinejad called the fresh attempts at peace "stillborn and doomed."

"Who gave them the right to sell a piece of Palestinian land?" Ahmadinejad asked, speaking to Iranians rallying at Tehran University of the team negotiating for Palestine. "The people of Palestine and the people of the region will not allow them to sell even an inch of Palestinian soil to the enemy."

Al-Jazeera also chose to spotlight Mehdi Karroubi, a non-Israeli enemy targeted today by Ahmadinejad's hard-line government.  Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard prevented Karroubi, an opposition leader who ran against Ahmadinejad in last year's disputed elections, from attending the rally by surrounding his home, smashing his windows and beating up one of his security guards.
Last year, Karroubi and other opposition leaders used Al-Quds day to round up their supporters in the streets.  

Ha'aretz doesn't mention Karroubi's absence in the chaos. Instead, it underscores the anti-Israel portions of Ahmadinejad's speech and quotes other interesting Iranian voices.

"Today millions of people will shout out their will for liberation of the holy Quds from the devil's claw of Zionists," the Fars news agency reported....

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast on Friday described the Washington meeting as "futile compromise talks" and told ISNA news agency that "the Palestinians were smarter than being deceived by this kind of theatre."

Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told state television Friday that "the dilemma could not be settled by theatrics staged in Washington as the Palestinian issue was not a toy but a very serious matter which solely had one solution: giving Palestinians back their rights."

And another interesting detail the Ha'aretz coverage:

During the rallies, the pro-government Basij militia group was to distribute two video games as an effort to reach the younger generation and expose "Zionists' crimes and atrocities in Palestine," state TV reported.

But who gets the last word of the day?

Perhaps its Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Foreign Policy's Passport blog reports on his latest tweet, in honor of the holiday: "Israel is A Hideous Entity in the Middle East Which Will Undoubtedly Be Annihilated."

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Elizabeth Weingarten is an editorial assistant at the New America Foundation. A former Slate editorial assistant, she also previously wrote for and produced the Atlantic's International Channel.

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