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The mysterious origins of Iran’s animated anti-Israel films

It’s an all-out war between Iran and Israel – in cartoon form. And Iran is winning, at least according to a string of explosion-filled propaganda films the country continues to release. Though Hassan Rohani’s government has sought to somewhat assuage tensions with Israel, these 3D animated films, which first appeared under his predecessor’s reign, keep on coming.

During former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rule, the government started promoting cultural productions – including poems, paintings, novels, and animated films – with the theme of annihilating Israel. Ahmadinejad created international scandals by denying the Holocaust and saying that Israel should be “wiped off the map”. Rohani has a very different style: he wished the Jewish people of the world a happy Rosh Hashana, and his foreign minister, in a tweet to former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, reassured her that “the man who [denied the Holocaust] is now gone”.

However, the president does not hold all the power in Iran. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who is a hardliner, has the power to make numerous appointments. He notably controls the Revolutionary Guard, a powerful branch of the army. This may explain the seeming contradiction between Rohani’s more measured approach toward Israel and the fact that these cartoons keep being produced. In one recently-released cartoon, titled “The message of Rachel Corrie” (a young American who was run over by an Israeli tank in Gaza in 2003), the word “Holocaust” is even trampled underfoot.

Initially published on France24 on 05/19/2014

Read the full story here.

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