Why do some Iranians support genocide?

The positions of a part of “Iranians” (citizens within the borders or abroad) towards Israel’s genocide in Gaza and specifically the “Palestinian Question” are so pro-genocide that they can only be compared with the positions of the Zionists themselves. At the same time, millions of people around the world have started massive protests and opposition to the policies of their governments in support of Palestine and to stop the Israeli genocide. An example of the rapidly spreading movement of occupying universities in support of Palestine and against the genocide is the latest form of these student protests. However, among a part of Iranians, the hegemonic understanding of the Palestinian question is based on the form of a reduced polarization between the “defense of Israel” and its allied historical bloc, i.e. Western imperialism, and the “defense of the axis of resistance” and its constituent historical bloc led by Iran (and with the support of Russia and China). It is as if the occupation of Palestine and more than 70 years of historical struggles against Israel and the current genocide in Gaza are meaningful only in the form of the so-called confrontation of the Islamic Republic with Israel, and Palestine itself and the Palestinians have no subjectivity except as a proxy force of the Islamic Republic and the “axis of resistance”. The ideological manipulation of the matter and its prevalence in the discourses and actions of the IRI’s mostly right-wing opposition as well as certain segments of the populace have led to a common mistake that any solidarity with Palestine and support for it in the eyes of “public opinion of Iranians”—a notion that has been injected into the public consciousness by right-wing mainstream media outlets like BBC Persian, Iran International, Euro News Farsi, Deutsche Welle Farsi, ManotoTV, etc.—seems like giving up to the rhetoric of the Islamic Republic and being welcomed by it and its proxies.

At the same time, the IRI’s crackdown on every sphere of socio-political life, its propaganda about Palestine, and its military actions against Israel, and recently the possibility of war in the past months have caused many parts of the opposition to adopt an ideological formula that is more based on the principle of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. It is in such a situation that within the country, any public stance towards Palestine and the ongoing genocide was neither possible for a large part of the people, for various reasons, nor was it basically acceptable. The proof of this is the clear indifference towards the genocide of Palestinians among large sections of people and groups who are/were opponents of the Islamic Republic in the past years and have suffered a lot of costs. Specifically, in recent weeks, when the movement to occupy university spaces has been going on in different countries of the world, neither in the streets nor in the universities of Iran (except for the gatherings of supporters of the Islamic Republic), both due to the conditions of severe repression and due to the predominance of extreme right-wing discourses among the opposition as well as the absence/inability of leftist students there have been no clear voice in support of Palestine, and naturally no independent action has been held by prominent workers’ organizations, teacher’s and pensionaries’ associations.

While the Iranian right-wing opposition abroad and its regime change love (led by Reza Pahlavi and monarchists, constitutional monarchists, republicans and liberal-imperialists such as Masih Alinjad, etc.) led them openly align with Israel and the genocide, and in gatherings of supporters of Israel, they represent the positions of the most extreme Zionists, they see nothing but ‘political Islamism’ in Palestine. So, their followers within Iran also use the excuse of all the repressions and killings of the Islamic Republic and its instrumental use of Palestine, instead of linking themselves to the liberation struggles of other oppressed people in the countries of the region. In practice, some of them are willing to side with the most criminal governments and policies that commit genocide and ethnic cleansing out of hatred for the Islamic Republic. The predominance of the ideological discourses of the right-wing opposition among different classes and social groups in the absence of hegemonic left and progressive alternative forces has caused a part of Iran’s “oppressed” with strange ethnocentrism not to side with the oppressed of Palestine but with their oppressors i.e. Israel and legitimizing discourses to Genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Among the revolutionary and progressive leftist forces, this position in the past months, although on a symbolic level and within smaller alternative groups in social media have been in the form of statements and in some cases, participation in pro-Palestinian demonstrations in different countries, these forces are generally unable to connect with the leftist and progressive groups at the regional and global scales regarding the struggles of the Palestinian people. On the other hand, at the international level, the discourse of Iranian’s “Leftist Axis of Resistance” (along with the government propaganda of IRI) seems to be more able to present itself to the political forces of other countries and to be present in the mainstream and even sometimes in the alternative media.

In a situation where popular and class struggles in the national and global arenas are either surrounded by imperialist agents or captured by reactionary forces (especially political Islamists and extreme nationalists), the need to resuscitate independent class politics and the activity of revolutionary leftist forces is felt more than ever. Under these circumstances, if the revolutionary leftist forces in the national and international contexts cannot preside over the course of popular struggles and linking their local causes to the international ones, this space of hope and struggle would be easily hijacked by the forces of both Imperialism and reaction.

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