UPDATED WITH STATEMENT FROM A TWITTER SPOKESPERSON
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Monday alleged in a tweet that his country is not interested in producing a nuclear weapon, but said that if it were, no one could stop it, including Israel. In the post, he used the antisemitic phrase “international Zionist clown,” which, according to The Times of Israel, was an apparent reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“That international Zionist clown has said they won’t allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons. First of all, if we had any such intention, even those more powerful than him wouldn’t be able to stop us,” Khamenei tweeted Monday.
Many conservatives, after former President Donald Trump was banned last month from Twitter and other social media platforms regarding his posts alleging election fraud and those viewed as playing a role in stirring up the deadly January 6 Capitol riot, have argued that it was unfair that Trump was banned while Khamenei and the Chinese Communist Party have tweeted far worse things and faced no repercussions.
A Twitter spokesperson told this reporter that Khamenei’s tweet is “not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
Specifically, the spokesperson pointed to Twitter’s world leader policy, in which it is stated that the company assesses “reported Tweets from world leaders against the Twitter Rules, which are designed to ensure people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely.” The policy also says that “[p]resently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
It is not clear whether Twitter will take action against Khamenei for the tweet, though the company has not done so in the past—even when he has used the platform throughout the years to call for the “elimination” of Israel, among other statements.
Prior to Twitter permanently banning Trump, he was shielded by the platform’s world leader policy, which exempts currently serving global leaders from penalties for posting certain policy-violating content. The former U.S. president, the company argued, needed to be held accountable for violating its policies, despite still being a world leader at the time.
Former Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ellie Cohanim, a Jewish Iranian whose family fled Iran due to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, told this reporter that the “Iranian regime engages in what I have termed an ‘obsessive anti-Semitism,'” adding that “Ayatollah Khamenei’s tweet is just more evidence of the hatred and vitriol which the Supreme Leader himself directs at the Jewish state of Israel.”
“Despite his protestations, Khamenei is clearly frustrated with the knowledge that Israel has consistently blocked repeated Iranian attempts at achieving nuclear capability, and undoubtedly the Israelis will continue to thwart the greatest state sponsor of anti-Semitism from developing a nuclear arsenal,” Cohanim added.
Below Khamenei’s aforementioned tweet, the Iranian leader doubled down on his claim that Iran isn’t seeking nuclear weapons, saying, “This is based on Islamic fundamentals and commands that prohibit weapons that are used for killing ordinary people.”
He, however, went after the United States for dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, the only nuclear weapons ever used in warfare.
“The one that massacres 220,000 people with nuclear weapons is the US.”
In a separate post on Monday, Khamenei reasserted his claim that his country has no interest in such weapons but said that Iran’s “nuclear enrichment will not be limited to 20% either.” Moreover, he added that it “will enrich uranium to any extent that is necessary for the country” and that its “enrichment level may reach 60% to meet the country’s needs.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Shanghai: China’s Potemkin Village
Following a recent outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed a month-long draconian lockdown on the residents of Shanghai. The CCP has used the outbreak to persecute its own citizens, including through forced evictions and quarantines, and placing alarms on doors to prevent COVID-19 people from leaving their homes. The harsh measures have resulted in food and healthcare shortages and separation of families.
But of course, we wouldn’t know that by reading the CCP-run press readily available in the United States. Instead of presenting the facts, the CCP engages in a comprehensive propaganda campaign that props up Shanghai as a Chinese Potemkin village. The CCP media asserts that China’s actions in Shanghai are benevolent and wise, while Western criticism is a product of malice. Chinese state-run media also insists that the Shanghai lockdown promotes economic stability in China and the world.
Claim 1: China Has the Best Policy for Combating COVID-19
The CCP media portray the Shanghai lockdown as the best and ideal policy. As cited by a XinhuaNet editorial, “China’s dynamic zero-COVID approach” is “the best option to save lives,” according to a “Rwandan researcher and publisher,” “…a miracle for us to learn,” according to a Kenyan scholar, and “a very ideal response,” according to Ethiopia’s National COVID-19 Response Task Force Coordinator. According to CCP media, Chinese citizens have greeted the Shanghai lockdown warmly, even with “[a] mixed sense of intensity, unity and hopefulness,” according to China Daily.
Claim 2: The West Hypocritically Defames China
The CCP press also accuses the West of lying about the Shanghai lockdown, and using COVID policies for nefarious ends. According to XinhuaNet, “Shanghai…has never imposed what Western media described as a ‘lockdown.’” Other CCP editorials actually accuse the West of malice. One Global Times editorial claims that the lockdown “has been deliberately exaggerated by the West.” Another Global Times editorial asserts that the Western approach of “coexisting with the virus” amounts to a way “…to drive out a large number of the vulnerable people with low immunity,” and a form of “cruel social Darwinism.”
Claim 3: China’s COVID Policies Result in an Economic Windfall to China and the World
The CCP also portrays the lockdown as necessary to achieve great economic growth in China and beyond. One Global Times editorial, while conceding that the lockdown amounted to a “sealing-off,” it is “a temporary measure to better resume work and production and to make the economy and society function more effectively. Its effectiveness has been proven.” According to another Global Times editorial, China’s policy is “widely considered to be the best strategy…to both contain the epidemic and ensure stable economic development.”
In an Orwellian fashion, Chinese press claims that China is solving, not causing, the world’s economic problems. According to XinhuaNet, “China has played a decisive role in stabilizing the global economy and resuming the supply chain disrupted by COVID-19.” Citing a Bloomberg article, the same XinhuaNet editorial claims that China “has prevented a huge number of deaths at home and ensured that everything from iPhones and Teslas to fertilizer and car parts continues to flow to the rest of the world.” Chinese citizens, of course, are collateral damage: Ji Qiwei, vice-general manager of SAIC Motor Passenger Vehicle, stated that “The domestic market may be impacted a little by the COVID-19 outbreak this year, but our export market will continue to see strong growth,” according to China Daily.
While the world continues to suffer economic and human damage as a result of COVID-19, China continues to revise history regarding its role. Through its propaganda in its English publications of Xinhua, China Daily, and Global Times, China seeks to portray itself as a benevolent force in the fight against the virus.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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