The Cancer of the Law in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Reflections on the Iranian Anti-Israel Law of 2020

Mathieu Deflem
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This is the manuscript of a chapter in Combining the Legal and the Social in Sociology of Law: An Homage to Reza Banakar, edited by Håkan Hydén, et al. Oxford, UK: Hart Publishing, 2023. Published open-acces in the Oñati International Series in Law and Society

Also available online from the publisher and as PDF.

Please cite as: Deflem, Mathieu. 2023. "The Cancer of the Law in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Reflections on the Iranian Anti-Israel Law of 2020." Pp. 319-329 in Combining the Legal and the Social in Sociology of Law: An Homage to Reza Banakar, edited by Håkan Hydén, R0ger C0tterrell, David Nelken, and Ulrike Schultz. Oxford, UK: Hart Publishing.


Relying on sociological work on legal cultures, including the relevant contributions by Reza Banakar, I develop an analysis and critique of selected aspects of contemporary law in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I specifically focus on the anti-Israel law (“Countering Israel’s Actions”) which the Iranian parliament passed in May 2020 just before the Quds Day that year had to be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I examine the law’s rationale in terms of the relationship between law, politics, and religion. Designed as a law banning all contact with the ‘Zionist enemy’, the new Iranian law seeks to provide a legislative foundation not only for the destruction of the state of Israel, but for the ultimate genocide of the Jews of Israel as well. The examination in this chapter is based on sociological theories on the modernization and rationalization of law and its relation to culture. Engaging with some of Reza Banakar’s theoretical contributions on legal norms and their relation to cultural values, I argue that pre-modern conceptions of politics, law, and religion, and their embodiment in a theocracy are incompatible with the rationalization that is needed for modern law to guarantee liberty and justice for all.

The original online posting of this paper on April 27, 2022, the 27th of Nisan, coincides with Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Israel's day to commemorate the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. I dedicate this posting to the people of the state of Israel.


The study of culture is essential to the study of law. The study of the culture of law itself must likewise be a central aspect of any serious sociological or socio-legal study of law in society. It is undeniable that the scholar whose life and work we remember in this anthology has devoted arguably better and more efforts than anyone else to the study of legal cultures. It is not only for this reason professionally becoming, but appropriate on scholarly grounds as well, to maintain a conceptual focus on legal cultures and to practice it in our research. Applying a legal cultures perspective to selected cases of law in Iran, further, will also remind us to remember our respective native roots, no matter where we were find ourselves in the present, and foster a mindful comparative dialogue in the global era.

This chapter is indebted to the work of Reza Banakar by analytically considering the role of legal culture in the constellation of law and society and, additionally, by its thematic focus on a contemporary legal condition in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Banakar’s emphasis on legal cultures rhymes well with my own theoretical inclination to focus on the role of culture on relation to law, especially in the context of modern societies (Deflem 2008). The focus on law in Iran, I must approach as an outsider to that particular country, but from an appropriate comparative outlook. I will in this chapter specifically examine and scrutinize the new anti-Israel law that was passed by the Iranian parliament in May 2020 to ban any and all contact between Iran and Israel. Analyzing this law in the context of modernization and counter-modernization, I will seek to make sense, in strict analytical terms, of the insensible, uncover the reasons of the unreasonable, as Iran’s new anti-Israeli law is aimed not only at the destruction of the state of Israel, but the genocide of the Jewish people as well. Relying on theoretical advances concerning the rationalization of law, especially with regard to the independence of the judiciary and its cultural foundations.

Law Between Norms and Values

This section is not coincidentally labeled under a heading that invokes the (English-language) title of Jürgen Habermas’ (1992) magnum opus on law, because my analysis harmonizes with long-standing modernist perspectives of law in society (Deflem 2013). It is a mark of modernization that culture remains related to law, though in markedly different ways than in pre-modern times. I hereby define culture sociologically as the whole of values and their associated practices, while law refers to a system of norms enforced in a given context as well as the institutions and practices associated therewith. Whereas cultural values determine what one ought to do as members of a group or segment thereof, legal norms prescribe how, within a given jurisdiction, people ought to interact with one another regardless of their potentially varying cultural beliefs and values. As such, culture refers to the substance of a social order (what to do), whereas law and other norms relate to the form of social organization (how to inter-act with others). Historically, religion has been a critical element of culture across most if not all known societies, as much as law has been accordingly subject to religious justification or, alternatively, been marked in varying degrees and ways to a process of secularization.

The development of the changing relationship between law and culture has occupied sociology since the classic era (Deflem 2008: 199—202). Emile Durkheim clarified the relationship between (cultural) values and (legal) norms in terms of a transformation from mechanical to organic societies, whereby the collective conscience changes from a cohesive set of strong beliefs towards an individualist society with a plurality of value systems which modern law needs to integrate (Durkheim 1893). Max Weber described this transformation in terms of a rationalization of law in the direction of purposive-rational action (Weber 1922). Applying the methodology of ‘Wahlverwandtschaft’ (elective affinity), Weber described the conditions of this rationalization process as resulting from the economic expansion of capitalism, the political development of bureaucracy, a law-internal process of the professionalization of law, and, culturally, an increasing secularization of law.

Building on the European classics, Talcott Parsons brought the relationship between values and norms to the center of sociological theorizing. Parsons clearly distinguished values and norms, because, especially after World War II, a variety of ways in which modernity had taken hold (or not) across political and legal communities was revealed. But Parsons could still justifiably conceive of the relation between values and norms in relatively unproblematic terms by arguing that normative integration through law is possible because of freedom-guaranteeing cultural values that form law’s sub-constitutional stratum (Parsons 1978). As such, there was an unproblematic relationship between culture and law in the society Parsons described or, at least, thought to describe.

Turning towards contemporary conditions, a perspective must be developed that takes into account increasing societal complexity since the latter half of the 20th century. At least two avenues are available. One is the post-modern attitude towards wholesale incredulity, a fashionable position that remains alive today. The other route is a modernist theory. Jürgen Habermas’s (1992) procedural discourse theory presents a perspective that remains worthy of our attention in the pluralistic societies of today. Contemporary societies are marked by a high degree of diverse value systems and, therefore precisely, in need of integration through legal and other normative frameworks. This functional need does not imply that societies must be culturally uniform or cohesive, as a common misconception of Habermas and other modernists would hold. Instead, effective integration efforts through normative regulation are needed when different value systems within societies appear not as mere alternatives, but as consequential conflicts. The integrative function of law is then a necessity for peaceful co-existence and survival of the social order.

Today the most critical challenge to legal systems remains the need to fulfil the primary function of integration in light of a need to preserve cultural differences. But there are limits to tolerance as well. Otherwise, respect for values would become self-contradictory when the values to be respected inherently violate the rights of others. Minimally, the limits of value-tolerance are presented when certain values and their influence on law and politics become existentially destructive to others. I argue that the autocratic legal system of the Islamist Iranian regime presents such a troubling case.

Iran’s Anti-Israel Law

Since the formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran following the 1979 Revolution, the country has generally lacked stability and faced much turmoil, including a nearly eight-year long war with Iraq, the crippling impact of economic sanctions and political isolation, and the suppression of political protest. Centrally controlled by a Supreme Leader, the regime is a totalitarian Islamic theocracy that violates fundamental rights and liberties, despite the country’s otherwise relatively advanced technological and economic conditions.

What is remarkable about present-day Iran is that, unlike many other such autocratic systems today (North Korea, as the most obvious example), the political regime of the country is at once critiqued by many Western nations while still functioning as a player in world affairs. Iran has been facing economic sanctions from many countries and the United Nations, but has also been able to have a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (known as the Iran nuclear deal) accepted by the European Union and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (including the United States). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had requested the deal to include a basic and more than reasonable "Iranian commitment of Israel's right to exist,” but U.S. President Obama denied the request (Peralta 2015). Whatever its precise terms, the deal has effectively allowed Iran to maintain its role as an active partner in international accords. .

In view of longstanding political and cultural traditions in the region, it would almost be redundant to discuss the anti-Israeli aspects of the Iranian Islamic regime. Since the 1979 Revolution, Iran has de facto been engaged in a proxy war with Israel, because such is most typically, if not intrinsically, the nature of an Islamist regime located in the Middle-Eastern region. To the Islamic Republic of Iran, no enemy is worse than Israel, the state and the nation alike. Nonetheless, Iran’s recently passed anti-Israel law presents a distinct moment in the development of the country’s political and legal system, the dynamics of which reveal, in a concrete and clear way, the nature of the Iranian regime and its legal culture.

Iran’s anti-Israel law of 2020 was passed by the Iranian Parliament (the Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majlis) on May 18 that year (Joffre 2020; Nadimi 2021; Rose 2020; Seliktar and Rezaei 2020). Voted unanimously by the 43 members of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, the law is officially referred to under the heading of “Countering Israel’s Actions” (“Tarhe Moghabele ba Eghdamat Israel”). Basically outlawing any and all contact and agreements between Iran and the “Zionist enemy” that is Israel (Seliktar and Rezaei 2020), the law was formally passed to halt alleged “hostile acts of the Zionist regime against peace and security,” including “spying, terrorism, and martyrdom of Iranian nuclear scientists, cyber and electronic warfare, and cyber-attacks on nuclear and economic centers” (FARS 2020; Joffre 2020). Upon unanimous approval of the bill, the Iranian parliamentarians chanted “down with Israel” (Joffre 2020).

The passing of Iran’s anti-Israel law came shortly before planned Quds Day rallies had to be drastically scaled back in view of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic (Vahdat and Gambrell 2020). Sanctioned by the Iranian government, Quds Day or Jerusalem Day (Al-Quds, literally ‘The Holy’, is the Arabic name for Jerusalem) is held annually on the last Friday of Ramadan to protest against Israel and, its major ally, the United States. The day is infamous for its participants gleefully chanting ‘Death to Israel!’, ‘Death to the United States!’.

Iran’s anti-Israel law consists of 14 articles. Among the specific provisions, the law criminalizes the use of Israeli flags and symbols that favor Israel, bans any and all financial assistance from Iranian citizens to Israel, and advocates the boycotting of all Israeli institutions and companies registered in Israel. Also banned are any forms of cooperation between Iranian and Israeli universities and medical institutions, public as well as private organizations, and conferences with Israeli members or affiliation. The law further criminalizes contact with all organizations that are sanctioned by Israel to advance the “goals of the Zionist regime” (Joffre 2020), and it bans the use of products and technology manufactured in Israel or by companies that have branches in the country. Any kind of political agreements between Iran and the state of Israel are explicitly outlawed as well.

Iranian citizens violating the anti-Israel law can be fined, dismissed from public office, or imprisoned. All contacts and communications with Israeli nationals are punishable unless they can be proven to have taken place accidentally. The law also applies to Israeli citizens by prohibiting them from entering Iran and from traveling to what is referred to as the “occupied Palestinian territories” (Rose 2020). Upon Iran’s government officials, the law imposes obligations not only to abide by the various bans, but also to actively promote and engage in the prosecution of Israeli politicians and officials for “crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, aggression and terrorist acts inside and outside the occupied territories” (Joffre 2020). The law further seeks to bring awareness to alleged “Zionist apartheid” among international organizations (Joffre 2020). Finally, the law calls for a referendum among the people residing in “Palestine” to determine the future of the region and recommends the establishment of a virtual Iranian embassy for this country in Jerusalem (ibid).

Conditions and Consequences

Looking at the context in which Iran’s anti-Israel law has come about, several internal and external factors must be considered. At the time of the law’s passage, the Iranian regime was facing internal difficulties in terms of formulating an effective response against the COVID-19 pandemic (Times of Israel 2020). Failures in terms of healthcare provision also motivated efforts to clamp down on popular opposition against the Islamist regime (Avraham 2020). Two of the sponsors of the law may have had more immediate ambitions of self-survival as they were facing charges of corruption and economic fraud (Seliktar and Rezaei 2020). Considering external factors, the law passed at a time when Israel had been stepping up efforts to take up more land in the administered territories. Israeli authorities had also accused Iran of engaging in cyberattacks against Israeli water and sewage installations, while, in turn, airstrikes targeting Iran-backed militias and the Lebanese Hezbollah had been attributed to Israeli forces.

The passage of the anti-Israel law may at first appear paradoxical because of its explicit listing of all kinds of contact and communications with Israel when the Islamic Republic does not even acknowledge the legitimate existence of the Jewish state and, worse yet, is unambiguously engaged in efforts to bring about its destruction. But there are many reasons to pass a law, not all of which are instrumental. From a practical viewpoint, it is unclear if the law can even be enforced, especially because its scope is so broad that it would inevitably affect many Iranians in their routine daily lives. As the law prohibits even indirect forms of contact with Israel, including electronic equipment with components manufactured by companies with branches in Israel, Iranian iPhone users were reportedly alarmed about what the law could mean for the use of their favorite communication device (Seliktar and Rezaei 2020). The only exception that has been granted to an all-out ban on contacts with Israel was an initially planned prohibition on international sports activities involving Israeli athletes. Iran’s Ministry of Sport successfully lobbied against this provision, not for any love of Israel, but because it might have meant that Iran would be excluded from all international sports (Seliktar and Rezaei 2020).

The new Iranian law is not merely opposed to certain Israeli policies, but decidedly framed as being against Israel as such. It effectively puts into law the goal to abolish the state of Israel by arguing that the “historical and integrated land of Palestine belongs to the original Palestinian peoples, including Muslims, Christians and Jews” (Joffre 2020). Jerusalem is consequently referred to as “the permanent capital of Palestine” (ibid). Plainly, the law aims to destroy Israel, while Jews are acknowledged only as Palestinians, thereby effectively denying true their cultural identity.

The law bans any and all engagements with “Zionist” causes, not just in or from within Israel, but also in connection with “international Zionism all over the world” (Joffre 2020). The trope of international Jewry is an all too familiar one. But the anti-Semitism of the Iranian regime is no secret. Shortly after the anti-Israel law had passed, Iran’s Supreme Leader Sayyid Ali Khamenei, who has been in office since he took over from Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989, referred to the very establishment of Israel as a “crime against humanity” (Harpin 2020). The statement came just a few days after the Iranian head of state had published a poster on his website that read “Palestine Will Be Free. The final solution: Resistance until referendum” (Lipin and Aryan 2020).

Although the poster displayed by Khamenei, directly referencing the Nazi policy to exterminate the Jews of Europe, was eventually removed, Iran’s Supreme Leader has not backed down from continuing to voice anti-Semitism at every chance. On his Twitter account, which remains active until today, Khamenei regularly turns to naming and blaming the Jews. At the time of the anti-Israel law’s passage in May 2020, the Iranian leader argued that his country’s policy of “Eliminating the Zionist regime doesn’t mean eliminating Jews”, only to continue that the only acceptable Jews are “Jewish Palestinians” (Khamenei 2020a). In no uncertain terms, he added, “This is ‘Eliminating Israel’ & it will happen” (ibid). Similarly, following the decision by the United Arab Emirates in the fall of 2020 to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel, Khamenei took to Twitter to condemn the Arab country’s actions for being “in agreement with the Israelis & filthy Zionist agents of the U.S. –such as the Jewish member of Trump’s family” (Khamenei 2020b). It is this explicit culture of anti-Semitism, historically embedded in Iran’s political and legal system (Litvak 2006), that finds concrete expression in the “Countering Israel’s Actions” law.

Turning to its impact, it is striking to observe that Iran’s anti-Israel law has received little coverage in the international news media, except in sources specialized in the Middle East and, for obvious reasons and good cause, the Israeli press. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli actions from the Iranian government, it appears, are too routine to warrant special attention. Among the few countries to respond has been the United States, but even the reaction from Israel’s most trusted ally has been relatively mild. Upon passage of the law, U.S. State Department officials simply stated that they believe that the people of Iran will reject their leaders’ anti-Semitic rhetoric (Lipin and Aryan 2020). While it would have been more accurate had U.S. officials stated that Iranians should, rather than will, reject the anti-Israel law, the implied realization is that the will of the people matters as a source of legitimacy of law. Even in a theocracy as authoritarian as the Islamic Republic, this cultural dimension is indeed important to take into account, especially in view of any possibilities towards modernization.

The Challenges of Culture and Legal Culture

If the study of culture (values) matters for the study of law (norms), it is evidently because culture matters to law. From the classics to contemporary sociology, the relation between cultural values, on the one hand, and legal norms, on the other, has remained a central concern in the development of modernity. Among the hallmarks of modern law is the independence of the judiciary as one dimension of a broader differentiation process. In autocratic regimes lacking this aspect of modernization, by contrast, law and politics are so closely intertwined that politicization cannot even appear as a problem. In Iran, this characteristic of authoritarian rule is crystalized in the position of the Supreme Leader as the head of state who also has tight control over the government as well as the judiciary. In the case of Iran’s anti-Israel law, specifically, the close connection between politics and law is shown from the fact that the administration of the law was by order of the Iranian President assigned to the Ministries of the Interior, Intelligence, Foreign, and Defense, the judiciary, and the Supreme National Security Council (FARS 2020). Moreover, the Supreme Leader is an Islamic religious figure who reigns over all important functions of government, military, and law, in which sense the Iranian legal system is deeply and unavoidably entrenched by Islamic precepts. The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran not only does not accept religious freedom, but proscribes Sharia Islam as its foundational principle.

Modernity not only applies to politics and law, but also to culture, including religion, and the role thereof in shaping law. In the West, the modernization of culture in relation to law especially pertains to secularization in the form of a relegation of religion to the private sphere. In theocratic regimes, by contrast, law not only exists in close relation to religion, but is essentially justified in religious terms as well. As legal cultures are situated in a broader cultural context, the non-modern nature of Iran’s legal system is indeed primarily demonstrated from its substantive infusion of the Islamic religion. In the case of the anti-Israel law, Iran’s Guardian Council, which is responsible to ensure that all laws passed by the parliament abide by the country’s constitution as well as the principles of Islam, reviewed the law and “did not find it against the religion and Constitution” (FARS 2020). The Islamic religion therefore provides the anti-Israel law’s ultimate justification in that any cooperation with the “Zionist regime” would be “an act against God”, considered “equal to enmity towards God and corruption on earth” (Times of Israel 2020).

Especially in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Reza Banakar (2008) had good reasons to remind us that it is incorrect as well as wrong to make any references to the Muslim community and to Islam in monolithic term. Yet, Banakar also acknowledged “that the practices of Sharia have taken inhumane and oppressive forms in some Islamic states” (ibid: 47). It is therefore also imperative to analyze the dynamics and implications of those expressions of Islam that are violent and destructive towards the state and people of Israel and other nations and cultures. Not all interpretations of Islam imply virulent anti-Semitism, but some of them clearly and openly do. Besides, while different interpretations of Islam may exist even in Iran, unless they are effectively voiced in the public arena, the non-secular nature of Iranian society will inevitably inhibit the modernization of Iranian politics and law. The victims of Iran’s autocratic rule are the Iranian citizens as well.

Looking at its religious cultural underpinnings, the Iranian regime today is not only characterized by, but deeply committed to, an anti-Semitism of the most extreme kind. Speaking on TV on Quds Day in May 2020 shortly after the anti-Israel law was passed, Supreme Leader Khamenei remarked that the “struggle for the liberation of Palestine is a jihad for the sake of God and a desirable Islamic duty” (Fazeli 2020). Making it clear that this idea of Palestine was to replace the state of Israel, Khamenei went on to say that the “Zionist regime is a deadly, cancerous growth” and that “It will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed” (Vahdat and Gambrell 2020). Such pronouncements make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that the non-modernity of Iran’s legal and political culture turns into an anti-modernity that expresses an anti-Semitism which poses an existential threat to Israel and its people. It is in this respect incomprehensible to observe that former U.S. President Obama realized that an Iran nuclear deal that included an Iranian recognition of Israel would be “really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms” (Peralta 2015). Requesting a partner in negotiations to recognize the mere existence of another state might have been becoming for the United States and its moral authority on the world stage.

I agree with Banakar that it would be unwise to impose the standards of Western (secularized Christian) values on Islamic legal cultures because and when these are “neither based on Western democratic principles nor are sensitive to Western standards of human rights” (Banakar 2008: 37). Regarding the prospects of the development of secularized legal systems in traditionally Muslim countries, it is therefore opportune to look at other Islamic cultures, rather than impose any ideas derived from traditionally Christian nations. Among the obvious cases is the secular state of the Republic of Turkey, at least up until the Constitutional Reform of 2017 since when not only Turkey’s President functions as both head of state and head of the government, but a gradual Islamization of Turkish politics and law has begun to manifest itself as well (Akyol 2019). But in other historically Muslim nations, the situation is more troubling. In May 2021, five parliamentarians in Kuwait introduced a new law that would ban any contact with Israel, imposing jail sentences for Kuwaiti citizens and officials dealing with or travelling to the Jewish state (Nasrallah 2021). Yet, showing that Islamic cultures need not be anti-Semitic nor anti-Israel, the chief executive body of the Cabinet of Sudan in April 2021 approved a bill to repeal a 63-year-old law that banned Arab nations from doing business with Israel (VOA News 2021). Seeking to restore diplomatic and economic ties with Israel, Sudan’s efforts do not stand alone as the country became one of four member-countries of the Arab League, along with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco, to formally recognize the state of Israel.

Even in the context of the Islamic Republic, Banakar has argued, “Iranian law lives a life of its own” (Banakar and Ziaee 2018: 717). The dynamics of this “life of routine practices of judges, court clerks, lawyers and clients” (ibid.) principally take place in a battle between the Iranian judiciary’s notion of law as Islamic jurisprudence, on the one hand, and the legal professionals’ purposive-rational understanding thereof, on the other. I agree that there is no need to deny the relevance of professional autonomy even in a state as autocratic as Iran, but, I argue, it is an altogether different matter to estimate what the consequences of this battle between substantive and formal rationalization are. Whereas a separation of powers is fully institutionalized in highly differentiated societies, in states like Iran, the substantive rationality that is at once both culturally entrenched and enforced from the top down by theocratic principles will always trump whatever formal-rational choices that can be made among legal professionals and in the judiciary.

It is not possible for law to be divorced from culture. Societies that have undergone a secularization of their legal systems, by example, are not necessarily less religious in their culture, but underwent a change in when and where religion matters or not. Legal and political reforms in Iran and other autocratic regimes, therefore, cannot be brought about only through changes in law and politics but will also have to rely on cultural changes. Only when culture is modernized as well, is it possible for a society to be duly differentiated and rationalized. For law to be rationalized in a purposive-rational sense, it must be secular or, at least, embody values that are compatible with norms that can function for all, whether the legal subjects are religious or not. In the Islamic Republic of Iran these conditions are not met. Under Iran’s current conditions of religious might, there can be no disputes over the direction of Iran’s modernity as there is as yet no modernity to speak of. To reverse the path of the Iranian regime and offer a cure against the cancer that is its legal system, the people of Iran will have to modernize their culture as well as their political and legal institutions in order to reverse the course of their history, lest the genocidal anti-Semitism of their government de facto turn them into the Supreme Leader’s executioners, willingly or not.

Whether political isolation and imposed economic sanctions can help bring about the changes needed for a modernization and rationalization of Iran’s politics, law, and wider society is not nearly as important as the undeniable reality that any necessary cultural changes, especially in terms of secularization, must be adopted by the Iranian people themselves. Some observers have argued that Iran’s anti-Israel law should not be considered nor feared as an achievement in the autocratic path of Iranian Islamist rule, but instead reflects ongoing chaos within the regime (Seliktar and Rezaei 2020). In view of the increasing voices of dissent Iran has been witnessing, the regime is in any case shown to be lacking in legitimacy, leaving only coercion and highly symbolic laws to sustain its might. Regardless of whether this chaos will result in a collapse of the regime or not, anti-Semitism and anti-Israel attitudes cannot possibly be condoned nor can they be useful.

It is, of course, up to the people of Iran to decide what they want for themselves, but they cannot expect to impose without consequence beyond their national bounds a culture that does not even recognize others and, worse yet, wishes them to die. In its politically sanctioned and legalized form, the anti-Semitism of Iran’s religious culture will have to be reversed if a path of Iranian modernization is to become possible. Until that time has come, the people of Israel may well argue —and not without justification— that they have no other choice but to defend themselves against the existential threats they face.


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