The International Conference on the Palestinian Intifada hosted by the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tehran from April 24-25 was opened by the Rahber of Islamic Iran, Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Khamenei. Here we present an abridged translation of his speech.
Speakers and Representatives of the National Assemblies of Muslim Countries, Leaders and Representatives of Mujahid Groups and Combatants of the Front Line of Islamic Defense, Honoured Guests and Distinguished Audience, I welcome you all to Iran and pray for the blessings and the guidance of Allah for you and myself.
The decision to organize this meeting is indeed auspicious. With the grace of the Almighty, your meeting will strengthen the commitment and solidarity of Muslim states and peoples for the uprising of the Palestinian people. Such meetings have practically proven that the question of Palestine is an Islamic issue and belongs to the entire Muslim world. The occupation of Palestine is part of a Satanic design by the world-dominating powers, perpetrated by the British in the past and being carried out today by the United States to weaken the Muslim world and to sow the seeds of disunity among us.
Our enemies have constantly tried to prevent the solidarity and unity of Muslims by the policy of divide and rule. In the beginning of the occupation of Palestine, Muslim ulama, such as Sheikh Ezzudin Ghassam and Haj Amin Al-Hosseini, appealed to Muslims to join hands in helping the Palestinian people in their just struggle. The great religious leader, Kashef al-Gheta, even called for jihad against the zionists. But unfortunately the Islamic color of the Palestinian struggle gradually faded and its ethnic content has become stronger.
The victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, under the able leadership of Imam Khomeini, was a watershed in Islamic awakening in the entire world. The victory of Muslims in South Lebanon, in the apparently unequal encounter with a stronger enemy, once more clearly showed that if Muslims put their trust in Allah their victory is certain. The astonishing victory of the Islamic resistance in South Lebanon, and the total failure of all the compromising plans, provide lessons for our region.
The triumph of Muslim combatants in South Lebanon encouraged Palestinian Muslims to resort to intifada once again. But this time the voices of surrender and compromise will not change the minds of the brave people of Palestine. The first intifada was stopped as a result of insinuations by the Zionists and their supporters, and pressures from the Americans and the West, promising to meet the demands of Palestinians by peaceful means. The passage of 10 years has shown that the efforts of the zionists and their supporters were aimed at rescuing Israelis from the relentless pressures being exerted on them by the Palestinians. Time has also shown that the promises to the Palestinian negotiators were empty illusions. The occupation, expansionism and savagery of Israel today were all predictable for those with insight and for the sympathizers of the Palestinian cause in the Muslim world.
Since the inception of Israel, this baseless regime has consistently violated the inalienable rights of the Palestinians. Moreover, some Western governments, especially the Americans, have justified and supported these atrocities, and international bodies have tried to legitimise the zionists’ aggressions.
Western powers have always had territorial ambitions toward Palestine and Bait al-Muqaddis. The imposition of the Crusades against Muslims is vivid proof of their ambitions toward this sacred land. Allied military commanders, marching into Palestine after defeating the Ottoman Empire in 1918, declared that “today the Crusades have come to an end.” The subsequent occupation of this land [by the zionists] was in accordance with a complex scheme designed to prevent the re-establishment of powerful Islamic states.
There are documents showing close collaboration of the Zionists with Nazi Germany, and exaggerated numbers relating to the “holocaust” of Jews were fabricated to solicit the sympathy of world public opinion, lay the ground for the occupation of Palestine and justify the zionists’ atrocities. There is even evidence that large numbers of non-Jews from Eastern Europe were forced to migrate to Palestine as Jews. The purpose was to install in the heart of the Muslim world an anti-Islamic state while pretending to help the victims of racism. Initially the Muslims were caught by surprise, since they were not aware of the depth of the scheme designed by the Zionists and their Western supporters. The Ottoman Empire was defeated and the Sykes-Pico Treaty was concluded in secret to divide the Muslim territories among the victors of the war. The League of Nations placed Palestine under the trusteeship of the British. It promised to support the Zionists and brought Jews to Palestine while forcing Muslims from their homeland. In this long war, the enemies of Islam have made use of complicated instruments, including the power of international media and forums. On the one hand, they invited Muslims to show patience and tolerance and to engage in peace talks, and on the other hand, they continued to arm Israel. Their strategic goal in these unequal and discriminatory dealings between Muslim countries and Israel has been to preserve the military superiority of Israel over Muslim countries. They have consistently supported Israel, and have justified its atrocities by employing their mass media to keep telling us that victory over Israel is a dream that can never be realized.
For more than 50 years, Israel regime has carried on its aggressions with impunity. But the situation is now changed; the Lebanon Islamic Resistance, comprised of only a few thousand young combatants, armed with a strong faith, have become a nightmare for this regime and its supporters. Their victory has become a guiding light for other Muslim mujahideen, and today we are witnessing the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which is akin to the Lebanon Islamic Resistance but on a broader scale.
Now that you have gathered here to show your commitment to the intifada, there is a heavy responsibility on your shoulders. You should, above all else, demonstrate that the Muslim world is determined to revive the best traditions of its history. Uppermost among these traditions was the unity of Muslims that brought them victory against the Crusaders. In those great historic events, Muslims from all comers of the Muslim world joined in the long jihad between the believers and unbelievers.
Today all the Muslims of the world are watching the struggle of the Palestinian people. They have great hopes for this intifada. In the first intifada, ten years ago, the climate of compromise and surrender gradually prevailed. There were those who trusted American promises, and there were also those who believed that Muslims could not resist and would ultimately have to succumb to international pressure to accept a compromise on American and Israel terms. After the events that unfolded at that time in the region, the ground was then more conducive for acceptance of their terms. But this year the road to humiliating compromise is closed. Even those who put all their hope on the US openly admit the current impasse.
At one time there were two ways to deal with Israel: military encounter of Arab armies with Israel, and the compromise which lead to giving in to Israeli demands. Previous military encounters were failures, and the so-called “land for peace” scheme meant continued military weakness. A case in point was the Camp David Accord. Then, there was no talk of resistance; resistance was said to be universally unacceptable. Now we have a successful model of resistance that was able to liberate occupied territories without making any concessions to Israel. With the Camp David Accord, Israel withdrew on the condition that Egypt would not send her army to the north of Sinai. In Lebanon, Israel begged Lebanon to send its army to its border with the occupied Palestine, fearing the Islamic resistance. The resistance was able to restore full sovereignty to South Lebanon and other occupied territories.
This intifada is a popular uprising. Palestinians have lost hope in all schemes aimed at striking a compromise, and have realized that victory depends only on their resistance. The people of Palestine suffered much in their previous intifada and offered many martyrs for Islam. The Oslo talks ultimately ended that uprising. Today even the Palestinian supporters of Oslo have stopped defending it. Little was given to the Palestinians but the extinguishing of the fire of intifada. When Israel saw her problem resolved and felt that Palestinians do not have the power to resume the intifada, they even stopped the little concession they had made and revealed their true expansionist nature. The so-called peace process and the Oslo scheme forced Palestinians to realize that there is no way forward but through all-out popular uprising.
The Al-Aqsa Intifada primarily revolves around Bait al-Muqaddis. The spark that ignited the anger of the Palestinian people stemmed from a gross insult to Al-Aqsa mosque by the zionists. Realizing their duty to protect one of the most sacred religious places of Moslems, the people of Palestine by their devotion and sacrifices kept the sacred flame of resistance against the zionist occupiers burning.
The compromising process, and more specifically the Oslo plan, divided the ranks of Palestinians. But this sacred intifada has been able to restore Palestinian unity. As you have all seen, all segments of people are present in this struggle; Islamists and nationalists are fighting side by side. Even those whose hearts are at another place have no choice but to go along with this huge wave.
The Islamic uprising, or in another word “Islamic awakening”, began in Iran after the victory of the Islamic Revolution under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, and has appeared with great force in all other Islamic regions. Today, this movement predominantly revolves around the question of Palestine. The Al-Aqsa Intifada was able to bring all Muslim and Arab peoples, even those beyond the immediate borders of Palestine, to the arena of struggle. Demonstrations by millions of Muslims from east and west of the Muslim world showed that Palestinian people can count on their support, and this issue is pivotal to the unity of Muslims.
The day that the “Islamic Resistance” began to take root in Lebanon with the endeavours of brave sons of Lebanon and with the support of Imam Khomeini, Israel was occupying Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon, and controlled the political destiny of this nation. When the Islamic Resistance shouted “Move to Liberate al-Quds”, some called this slogan naive and simplistic. They asked sarcastically whether it is possible to move toward Al-Quds “while you [the Lebanese] are unable to enter your own capital.” Only 18 years have passed since that time. I am sure you agree with me that 18 years is not much in the history of struggle of peoples.
No doubt any struggle means loss of lives and destruction of homes. It places heavy economic burdens on people and causes much pain and anguish. But we must remember the outcome of all these sacrifices. Victory is so precious that we must be willing to pay its cost. Israel is brought to its knees in face of the Islamic resistance. This is only a small part of the immense power of Arab and Muslim peoples. You should rest assured that if all our power and potential or even a part of it, is employed effectively we will achieve the demise of Israel. Israel was defeated by a few thousand combatants in South Lebanon. It is true that Hizbullah has great popular support and can, if needed, mobilize tens of thousands of people, but it has used only a few thousand, and sometimes only a few hundred, people in its encounters with the occupiers. A few hundred energetic and committed young men, with simple arms, defeated Israel with all its military arsenals, its nuclear power and its American allies. Undoubtedly their most powerful weapon was the power of their strong faith.
The Zionist regime does not have the required power to engage itself in a long encounter with the Palestinians. The Jews were deceived and brought to Palestine in the hope that Arabs would not fight them or that should they do so, pressure from the West would prevent their resistance from continuing for long. Thus those who have migrated to Palestine are not prepared to put their lives on the line for the political motives of the founders of zionism. According to news reports, Israel’s tourism has been seriously damaged more Jews are now leaving Israel than coming there.
The last conference on Palestine held in Tehran played a positive and fundamental role. It was a source of great encouragement and hope for the opposing forces to the so-called peace process, and boosted the morale and spirit of the Palestinian people. The stance of Islamic Iran and its steadfastness also gave hope to this valiant people. More than anything else, the people of Palestine need our moral support and perseverance in this time of need. It is true that they need financial assistance and we must together offer them help, but they have said time and again that for them a strong Arabic and Islamic stance figures above all other things. You, as the representatives of Muslim countries, can mobilize the potentials of your countries for liberation of Palestine. Defending and supporting the Palestinians and their brave struggle is an Islamic duty incumbent on all us. Today a Muslim people, with blood on its face, appeals to the Muslim Ummah for help from the middle of the combat arena. I will never forget the cry of the Palestinian woman who shouted in front of the television camera, “come to our help, you Muslims”.
All Muslims and Arabs should support the struggle of the Palestinian people. This point must be emphasized, that the people of Palestine have the right to continue their struggle for the recovery of their inalienable legitimate rights. The continuation of the intifada is the legitimate right of the Palestinian people and international law should recognize this right, although this law is usually interpreted to suit the interests of the global powers. More importantly, I can assure you that the Israeli regime is decayed from within, and that the present generation of Israelis is by no means prepared to make sacrifices for its preservation. Meanwhile, with the grace of Allah, Arab and Muslim peoples are today stronger than any other time in the past 50 years.
Muslims can no longer afford to be indifferent to daily oppression of the Palestinian people. Israel must be made to understand that suppression of Palestinians and its acts of aggression against areas with Palestinian inhabitants will bring Israel into direct and serious confrontation with all Arab and Muslim peoples. We must all be a source of encouragement and inspiration for the Palestinians. The strength of the Islamic resistance lies in its ability to deal crushing blows in response to Israeli actions, and not in relying on diplomatic efforts and mediation of others.
The internal unity of Palestinian people and different Palestinian movements lies in one fundamental point: anything that distracts Palestinians from the right path and causes them to ignore the principal enemy will not be in the interests of the Palestinian cause. We are grateful to Allah that the Palestinians have come out of this trial of the past 50 years with heads high and have shown their maturity. We have all seen the failure of all efforts by Israel to fan the flame of dissension among the Palestinians. The mainstream movements, like Islamic Jihad, Fath, Hamas and other groups, have succeeded with their revolutionary patience in thwarting the aspirations of the enemy.
Today it has become clear that those who thought that the question of Palestine relates only to a small part of the Islamic world were making a huge mistake. The enormous arsenal of nuclear weapons and other armaments of mass destruction in Israel are not only for defenseless Palestinian people. This arsenal is stockpiled in Israel to achieve its ambition to dominate the Islamic world, especially the Middle East. Today, Hizbullah is fighting for the liberation of occupied lands, and Israel attacks Syria in retaliation. This clearly shows the satanic intention of Israel and her Western supporters.
The following should be the general guidelines for our fight against the zionist regime: a) containing the usurper regime within its effective borders, constraining its economic and political breathing space and severing its links with its surrounding environment; and b) continuation of resistance and struggle of Palestinian people within their own homeland and offering them the needed help.
Brothers and Sisters, the principal reason for the pressures of the arrogant powers, especially the Americans, on Iran is our support for Palestine; they have said in plain terms that America’s major problem with Iran relates to the opposition of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the humiliating peace plans for Palestine, and other things such as the ridiculous claims of human-rights violations and manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction. They have also said very clearly that if Iran ceases to support the Lebanese and Palestinian mujahideen and people, they will cease their hostile actions against Iran. But we know well that their main problem is Islam and Islamic governance. We have given them a big “no”, and consider support for the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples an important Islamic duty. Their main method is to break the united ranks of revolutionary Muslims of Iran. They call one group “reformists” and another group “fundamentalists”; they support one group and concentrate their propaganda campaign against the other.
By blowing problems in our country out of all proportion, they try to depict the Islamic system of governance as inefficient, to disappoint people and to promote secularist thinking and bring about a separation of ‘politics’ and ‘religion’. The faith of our people is their greatest impediment.
By their propaganda they want to disappoint our youth and present economic difficulties that are also common to other parts of the world as unsolvable problems of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They try to raise doubts and questions about Imam Khomeini, the Father of the Revolution, and its other pillars. The reason for their actions is clear: Islam and the Islamic Revolution have hurt them.
They feel threatened by Islamic awakening and revival in the world and the enlargement of Islamic struggle in Lebanon and Palestine. So they want to dry out the roots of Islamic thought. As the scope and gravity of the Palestinian and Lebanese struggle increases, the wrath of the zionists and America against the Islamic Republic of Iran intensifies and their conspiracies against us become wider. They must realise that the leadership and officialdom of our country and Muslim people of Iran will remain committed to the aspiration of Revolution and Islam and to the intifada and resistance against zionists and their supporters. This is one of the core policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I am confident the Palestine will be liberated by the continuation of the Palestinian people’s struggle and the support of the Muslim world, and Bait al-Muqaddis and Masjid al-Aqsa will one day be in our hands again. The will of Allah shall prevail.
Wa salaamu alaikum wa rahmat’Allah wa barakatuhu