Iranian Foreign Minister and chief negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev) (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

In an attempt to sidestep accusations that Iran seeks to wipe out Israel, Iran’s foreign minister claimed that Iran actually saved Jews in the past including during the Purim episode, and only calls now to destroy the Netanyahu government.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif publicly conceded that his country seeks the annihilation of the “Netanyahu regime,” but oddly denied that it seeks to wipe out Israel.

In an NBC interview on Wednesday, Zarif was presented with a series of points raised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his address to the US Congress last Tuesday.

Regarding Iran’s nuclear aspirations, Zarif claimed again that Iran was not seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but that “people like” Netanyahu have been “fanning” hysteria since 1992 with the claim that Iran was a year or two away from the bomb.

Zarif also denied stalling the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) efforts to probe suspected nuclear weapons development by Iran. He continuously deflected questions by castigating Israel for alleged crimes.

When asked about Iran’s aspirations towards regional hegemony and the fact that it had begun to “gobble up these other nations,” as Netanyahu pointed out, Zarif claimed that Iran had actually come to the aid of Iraq, the Kurds and Syria against the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists. Again he censured Netanyahu and Israel, which, he claimed, support regional terrorism.

New Purim Story: Iran ‘Saved Jews’

Netanyahu “distorts realities of today. He even distorts his own scripture,” Zarif said, relating to the story of Queen Esther, who saved the Jews from an evil prime minister in ancient Persia (now Iran), and the subsequent annual Jewish celebration of Purim.

“Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy it,” Netanyahu declared in his speech to the US Congress last week, a day before Purim. “Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei spews the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with new technology. He tweets in English that Israel must be destroyed.”

Iran “has saved Jews three times in its history,” Zarif told the NBC interviewer. “Once during that time of a prime minister who was trying to kill the Jews, and the king saved the Jews [in the Purim story]; again during the time of Cyrus the Great, where he saved the Jews from Babylon; and during the Second World War, where Iran saved the Jews. Iran has a bright record of tolerance to other religions.”

(According to the historically documented story of Purim, the Persian king had signed a decree calling for the annihilation of all the Jews in the empire, young and old. It was later reversed through Esther’s persuasion.)

When the NBC journalist quoted a tweet last year by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, saying, “this barbaric, wolf-like and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime, has no cure but to be annihilated,” and asked Zarif if he could “understand why Jews and others would take umbrage at that kind of language,” the Iranian diplomat said that he could not.

Instead, Zarif ranted about fabricated Israeli war crimes: “Because this is a regime. We’re talking about Mr. Netanyahu, who has butchered innocent children in Gaza. We are not talking about annihilation of Jews. We never have, we never will. Because if we wanted to annihilate Jews, we have a large number of Jewish population in Iran who not only live in the country in peace, but, in fact, have a representative in Iranian parliament allocated to them…. So we’re not about annihilation of Jews. We have a history of tolerance and cooperation and living together in coexistence with our own Jewish people, and with Jews everywhere in the world.”

When pressed repeatedly, he conceded that the Jewish state “should be annihilated. That this regime is a threat, is a threat. A regime that engages in the killing of innocent children, a regime that engages in acts of aggression.” However, he claimed, “Iran has not invaded any other country. We have not threatened to use force. Just exactly the opposite of Israel.”

When asked about the fact that he, personally, had placed a wreath on the grave of Hezbollah master terrorist  Imad Mughniyeh, “who has spilled more blood, more American blood, than other terrorists besides Osama bin Laden,” Zarif again pointed to Netanyahu’s alleged support of terror.

To read the full interview click HERE.

By: United with Israel Staff