The speech of Iranís supreme leader Khamenei, March 2009:
his call for Israelís elimination

Published: 17 March 2009
Briefing Number 237

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Summary and context:On March 3-4 2009 Iran hosted the Fourth International Conference for Support of Palestine.  80 delegations from different countries attended.  This Briefing contains extracts from the speech to the conference of Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian supreme leader since 1989.        

- Khamenei describes Israel as an “illegitimate usurper regime” founded on  exaggerations about the Holocaust

- He considers Israel’s permanence to be a “fallacy”

- He considers negotiation with Israel to be a “fallacy”

- Khamenei blames the US and Britain for creating a “cancerous tumour” in the region, and describes them as parties to the dispute, not arbiters      

- He describes “resistance” to Israel as being the only way to break the “satanic spell” of the “usurpation of Palestine”

- He calls upon scholars, intellectuals and politicians to fight the global battle of hearts and minds against Israel and challenge the spells of the global news media empire controlled by Zionism

Key messages:  This speech amounts to a declaration of permanent war with Israel.  The Iranian threat comes from a combination of its military and strategic ambitions, and its incendiary ideology (held by the Iranian elite as a whole, not just Mahmoud Ahmadinejad).  Will Western engagement with Iran moderate the country’s attitudes during the coming crisis period, or just embolden it?      

The speech by Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: background and sources

On 3-4 March 2009 Iran hosted the ‘Fourth International Conference for Support of Palestine’.  This conference followed the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza of January 2009, and was held to rally support for ongoing Palestinian ‘resistance’ to Israel.   80 delegations attended, from different countries. 

This Briefing contains extracts from the speech to the Conference of Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has been the supreme leader of Iran since 1989, and has overall authority over the Iranian political, military and religious elite. 

Khamenei’s speech was reproduced by media monitoring agency MEMRI and is contained in MEMRI Special Despatch No2274, dated 6 March 2009 (see  See that document for the full text of the speech, together with a speech to the conference by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Here are verbatim extracts from Ali Khamenei’s speech:-

Israel as an illegitimate, usurper regime founded on the myths of the Holocaust

“Now 60 years have passed since the occupation of Palestine.  During this period all material means of power have been in the service of the usurpers, including money, weapons, and technology, as well as political and diplomatic initiatives and the giant empire of news media and networks.  Yet despite these staggering and far-reaching satanic efforts, the usurpers and their supporters have not only failed to solve the problem of the Zionist regime’s illegitimacy, but it has grown more complicated with time.

The intolerance shown by the Western and Zionist media and pro-Zionist governments towards even the mere posing of any question concerning the Holocaust – which served as an excuse for the usurpation of Palestine – and research on the topic, is one of the signs of this nervousness and uncertainty.

The image of the Zionist regime in world opinion today is much worse than it has ever been during its black history, and more serious questions are being raised concerning the rationale for its existence……”

The fallacy of Israel’s permanence

“A big fallacy which has taken control of the minds of some persons concerning the problem of Palestine is that a country named Israel is a 60 year old reality with which one has to reconcile.  I do not know why these people do not learn from other realities that are in front of their eyes.  Is it not a fact that the countries of the Balkans, Caucasus, and Southwest Asia reclaimed their identity after 80 years of loss, and after being parts of the former Soviet Union?  Why cannot Palestine, which is part of the body of the Islamic world, reclaim its Islamic and Arab identity?  Why cannot the Palestinian youths, who are among the most astute and resistant of Arab youth, overcome this unjust reality by their will and resolution….?”

The fallacy of negotiation

“Another big fallacy is to say that negotiation is the only means of deliverance for the Palestinian nation.  With whom are these negotiations to be held?  With a usurper, misguided and bullying regime which does not believe in anything except force?  What have those who have been captivated by this game and delusion achieved?……”   

The US and Britain are to blame for creating a “cancerous tumour” in the region, and are parties to the dispute, not arbiters

“The United States and Britain are guilty of the biggest sin in creating and sustaining this cancerous tumour of Israel, and are one of the parties to the dispute, and not arbiters.  The United States government has never ceased its unconditional support for the Zionist regime and its flagrant crimes, such as those committed during the recent events in Gaza….”
‘Resistance’ is the only way to break the “satanic spell” of the “usurpation of Palestine”

“The deliverance of Palestine cannot be obtained through begging from the United Nations or the dominating powers, and more so from the usurper regime.  The sole path of its deliverance is through resistance and fortitude, through the unity of purpose of the Palestinians and the word of God’s oneness (tahwid), which is the inexhaustible resource for human struggle.

… The resistance and fortitude of the Palestinian combatants and people, together with the all-round support and assistance from all Islamic countries, will break the satanic spell of the usurpation of Palestine…..”
Religious scholars, intellectuals and politicians need to fight the global battle of hearts and minds and challenge the Zionist global news empire 

“Another pillar of the resistance is the world’s Muslim nations and governments, religious scholars, intellectuals, political figures and academicians. If these pillars remain firmly in their place, there is no doubt that in every part of the world, awakened consciences, hearts and minds which have not been spoiled by the spells of the news media empire belonging to the global arrogance and Zionism, will rally to the assistance of the victims and those who have been denied their rights, forcing imperialism to confront a storm of thoughts, emotions and actions….”

Key messages:

  • Khamenei describes a vision of the eventual elimination of Israel.  The Iranian threat to Israel and the region comes from a combination of military and strategic ambition, and this incendiary, warlike ideology
  • It is not only Iranian President Ahmadinejad who holds an ultra-aggressive vision about Israel, but the entire Iranian elite.  At the top of that elite stands Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
  • This speech was hardly reported anywhere in the Western media


  • Will Western engagement with Iran moderate the country’s attitudes during the coming crisis period, or just embolden it? 

See also: ‘Iranian leaders’ incitement to genocide against Israel’ (Beyond Images Briefing 217, 25 July 2008)

And: ‘What do Hamas and Hizbollah want? What do they mean by ‘resistance’ to Israel?’ (Beyond Images Briefing 229, 17 January 2009)