President Ahmadinejad's remarks rejecting Israel may be rooted in centuries of Iranian antisemitism, forced conversions, pogroms and the Shi'ite perception that Jews were ritually 'unclean'. Dr Andrew Bostom, author of the Legacy of Jihad, set out the facts in this article in Front Page Magazine in 2004, three years after Ayatollah Khatami had threatened the Jewish state with nuclear annihilation.
"An ethos of Jew-hatred, including paroxysms of annihilationist fanaticism, has pervaded Persian/Iranian society, almost without interruption (i.e., the two major exceptions being Sunni Afghan rule from 1725-1794, and Pahlavi reign, with its Pre-Islamic revivalist efforts, from 1925-1979), since the founding of the Shi'ite theocracy in 1502 under Shah Ismail, through its present Khomeini-inspired restoration, "he writes. "Having returned their small remnant Jewish community to a state of obsequious dhimmitude, Iran's current theocratic rulers focus their obsessive anti-Jewish animus on the free-living Jews of neighboring Israel."
On the other hand, it can also be argued that the Iranian people are out of step with their mullahcracy, that Israel and Iran had excellent relations for 30 years and that many Iranians are sympathetic towards Israel.
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