The Tasnim News Agency is owned by a cultural organization personally overseen by Ayatollah Khamenei.
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
Iran’s Tasnim News Agency launched a Hebrew-language website on Monday, coinciding with the anniversary of the assassination of Al-Quds Force commander Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
“Although the number of people speaking Hebrew in the world is not so large, the Tasnim News Agency decided to set up a website in the Hebrew language, considering the strategic importance that the issue of Palestine has for the Islamic Republic of Iran and for Muslims across the world, and to release reports relating to the issue in that site,” said Tasnim CEO Majid Qolizadeh in a statement on the Hebrew site.
“The undeniable reality is that not only have the people of the world been deprived of receiving the news about the whole truth about the occupied Palestine and the Zionist crimes, but the reports that are fed even to the residents of the occupied territories are being extensively manipulated and managed.”
Also launched were associated Hebrew-language Instagram and Twitter accounts with 865 and 114 followers respectively.
Articles on the Hebrew language site included headlines such as “What were the top victories of BDS in 2021?,” “American actress Susan Sarandon reiterates Palestinian support,” “The Likud’s election economy is over and poverty has arrived,” and “The challenges of the Israeli entity in 2022.” Several other articles were devoted to the anniversary of Soleimani’s death.
The Story Behind Tasnim
Iranian media is tightly controlled by the state. The Tasnim News Agency is owned by the The Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization, a religious and cultural organization personally overseen by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The IIDO also owns the Mehr News Agency and the Tehran Times. The latter is regarded as the Islamic Republic’s most conservative newspaper and a mouthpiece of Iran’s Foreign Ministry. In December, the Times published a front-page warning to Israel with a large map of Israel full of red pins depicting rocket alerts. The headline, in large letters, said, “Just One Wrong Move!”
A 2020 Anti-Defamation League report called out Tasnim for a series of articles alleging that the coronavirus pandemic was “part of an American and Jewish plot at world domination through population control.” One article in the series claimed that this COVID conspiracy was masterminded by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who is Jewish.
The Hebrew site was unveiled the same day pro-Iranian hackers briefly took over the website of the Jerusalem Post and the Twitter account of its sister publication, Maariv. No groups have claimed responsibility. It’s not clear if the hackers were directly affiliated with the Iranian government or where they were operating from.
As commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, Soleimani was the point man for Iran’s relations with its regional proxies. He supervised Tehran’s efforts to entrench itself in Syria and Lebanon and oversaw relations with Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthi militia in Yemen, and various allied militias in Iraq. Soleimani also spied on Iran’s Jewish community.
At the time of his assassination, Soleimani was linked to attacks on U.S. targets in the Mideast, and the White House said Soleiman was also planning further attacks. Last month, the former head of IDF military intelligence Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Tamir Hayman confirmed Israel “played a role” in the assassination. He didn’t specify, but reports indicate Israel helped track down Soleimani.
Tehran’s rhetoric has escalated in recent weeks as the IDF moves to bolster its abilities to strike Iran.
The Israeli government and media have been running Persian-language websites and social media accounts to reach out to ordinary Iranians. The success of those efforts is difficult to gauge however. Because Tehran blocks many Western sites, the more internet-savvy Iranians access sites through virtual private networks (VPNs) and set up fake accounts to protect their identities.
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