“One Fine Day”: What Iran’s “Death to America” Marches Signal

Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day celebrations brought hundreds of thousands if not millions into the streets in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” They burned U.S., British, and Israeli flags while in some cases condemning Saudi Arabia as well, as CAMERA-affiliate BBC Watch pointed out (“BBC News Ignores al-Quds Day, in English,” BBC-Watch, July 12, 2015).
An internationally observed annual Iranian holiday, al-Quds Day was first proclaimed by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, in 1979. This year’s fiery calls for the destruction of the United States and its allies took place during the ongoing nuclear negotiations between the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China and Iran, but received minimal coverage by some major U.S. media outlets (“Chanting ‘Death to America, Israel’ Millions March in Iran on al-Quds Day,” Times of Israel, July 10).
Replete with signs alleging conspiracy theories of “Zionist” domination and U.S.-Israeli-Saudi collaboration against Iran, Tehran celebrated al-Quds Day to rally support against Israel and the West while calling for the “liberation” of Jerusalem—in other words, the destruction of the Jewish state (“American Flags Burn in Tehran as Negotiators Race to Finalize Nuclear Deal,” Foreign Policy, July 10).
Al-Quds Day observances and statements by Iranian leaders cast doubt on assertions that an agreement resulting from the U.S.-led negotiations over Iran’s purported nuclear program would lead to improved bilateral relations between Washington and Tehran.

With Iranian military commanders present, massive crowds—celebrating in the streets despite 97 degree temperatures—burned pictures of U.S. President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a new declared enemy of the Islamic revolutionary state—King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attended the festivities, during which one Iranian law student proclaimed: “We still recognize Israel as the enemy of Islam. I tell Israel to stop daydreaming and rest assured that you will collapse.”

Tehran’s Kayhan newspaper—considered a mouthpiece for Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—featured an editorial that predicted the United States, “which currently terrorizes humanity as the sole superpower, will one fine day cease to be visible on the map of the world” (“Our Death-to-America Nuclear Negotiating Partners,” Wall Street Journal, July 10). 
Iran’s ‘principled’ anti-American stance
Earlier in the week, the commander of Iranian ground forces, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, brushed off the notion of possible détente with the West resulting from a nuclear “deal” while exalting the revolutionary regimes’ goals and objectives. “The U.S. might arrive at some agreements with us,” Pourdastan said, “but we should never hold a positive view of the enemy. Our enmity with them is over principles and rooted in the fact that we are after the truth and nations’ freedom, but they seek to exploit nations and put them in chains.”

Similarly, Ayatollah Khamenei noted that Iran is “against the oppressors [the U.S., Israel, and the West].” As The Baltimore Sun’s Tribune Newspapers dispatch (“Iran’s leader calls for lasting anti-U.S. struggle,” July 12, 2015) notes—in remarks made public by Iran’s state-run Press TV—Khamenei encouraged university students to be “prepared to continue the struggle against arrogant powers.” “Arrogant” in the terminology of Iran’s leaders means those who resist their Shiite imperialistic ambitions.

In addition to The Sun, both The New York Times (“Iran Opens Campaign to Lay Blame on U.S. if Nuclear Talks Fail, July 11) and The Los Angeles Times (“Iran nuclear talks extended; Meanwhile, Iranians chant against the U.S. and Israel, a yearly Quds Day tradition,” July 11) also a Tribune newspaper report, covered the Iranian “holiday” complete with its requisite calls, in violation of U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and of the U.N. Charter, for the destruction of the United States and Israel.

Yet, some other major media outlets—although covering the U.S.-led nuclear negotiations—failed to provide much coverage of Tehran’s venomous celebrations.

USA Today, despite concurrent coverage of the Iran talks, failed to report Quds Day. The Washington Post (“Nuclear Deal with Iran may be near, envoys meeting in Vienna suggest,” July 13) noted Ayatollah Khamenei’s remark that the United States is the “embodiment of global arrogance” and mentioned the prospect of Iranians “celebrating” in the streets if a nuclear “deal” was reached. But Post reporter Carol Morello omitted mention of the context of Khamenei’s remarks or two words for background explaining why Iranians already were celebrating in the streets—“Quds Day.” She closed her 1,125-word piece by quoting Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), “There is no trust when it comes to Iran,” but didn’t really explain why that is.

Had The Post and USA Today covered Quds Day as regime supporters in Iran and clients in Lebanon and Iraq celebrated it, readers might be better able to understand why that “trust” is lacking. Detailed Quds Day reporting might also have explained why a nuclear agreement wasn’t announced on Friday July 10 as some had expected: there was a scheduling conflict—the mullahs were busy shouting “death” to their negotiating partner.

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