On January 3rd—the second anniversary of the Trump administration’s assassination of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)—the affiliated Iranian news agency Tasnim launched a new Hebrew website, complete with its own Twitter and Instagram accounts. Majid Gholizadeh, Tasnim’s chairman, acknowledged that “the number of Hebrew speakers around the world is not high,” but justified the launch “in light of the importance of the Palestinian problem for the Islamic Republic and for Muslims around the world.” Gholizadeh further accused global media of systematically censoring topics relating to the “Zionist regime” and occupied Palestine. “It’s unacceptable that not only is the public blocked from receiving information about the reality of occupied Palestine and Zionist crimes, but that the information residents of these very occupied lands receive is greatly filtered and falsified,” he said.

The articles that have been published so far on the site include reports on, among other topics, European governments urging Israel to stop the expansion of settlements in the West Bank; Iranians commemorating “Gaza day” in solidarity with the Palestinian people; a house demolition in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah; and the political debate in Israel about former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s possible plea bargain in his corruption trial. If there is a unifying theme, it is the exposure of Israel’s brutality, but editorial inconsistency and spotty quality predominate.

To some observers, the very existence of such a site suggests the involvement of the Iranian regime at the highest levels of power. “I find it hard to believe that Tasnim would launch a Hebrew site without approval from the supreme leader or some other entity in his office, not to mention an explicit request from them,” said M., an exiled Iranian reporter who asked to remain nameless. “I assume the people operating the website are connected to Iranian defense forces,” M. added, drawing on personal familiarity with Tasnim personnel. Citing a common saying in Iran—“If you want to know who’s going to be assassinated next, read Tasnim”— M. asserted “a fair amount of certainty that whoever is at the helm of this Tasnim department is a higher-up in Iranian defense.”

“In order to understand this move, one must understand the Iranian regime’s state of mind,” said M. “They feel they are under constant censorship and unable to reach the Jewish public inside or outside Israel—which is funny, because most Jews who live outside of Israel speak English or other languages in which the Islamic Republic of Iran can communicate.” M. noted that a Hebrew website is unlike a website in English, German, or any other language which some Iranian residents might speak. “There are hardly any Hebrew speakers in Iran, and if there are, I doubt they would identify themselves to an IRGC website, because they would automatically be suspected of espionage,” he said. H., another exiled Iranian media commentator, agreed with M.’s hypothesis that the new site was run by defense personnel and suggested that it could be used to cultivate spies inside Israel: “Beyond a desire to join the propaganda warfare, this website can also serve as an unofficial recruitment device,” he said.

Tasnim’s decision to launch a Hebrew channel cannot be interpreted in isolation from Israel’s lively media activity in Farsi throughout the years, first and foremost through the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Farsi-language Twitter account, which has hundreds of thousands of followers. Unlike Tasnim’s new website, which posts news in broken Hebrew—likely the result of relying on Google Translate—the MFA’s account fervently tweets in fluent Farsi, publishing pro-Israel propaganda and incessant snipes against the Iranian government.

Source » jewishcurrents