Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 25, 2013

Propaganda Uses Mistranslated Khamenei "Rabit Dog" Phrase

When former president of Iran Ahmedinejad said that Israel would one day "vanish from the pages of time" many reports claimed that he said to "wipe Israel off the map". The claim was based on an early mistranslation of Ahmedinejad's speech by an Iranian news agency. Even after language experts pointed out that the claim was false the mistranslated phrase was used over and over to demonize Ahmedinejad and to claim that he wanted to attack Israel.

Now that Ahmedinejad is gone some new Iranian devil is needed. As the current president Rouhani is seen as a "moderate" the demonetization propaganda is now set to a higher target. A phrase from a recent talk by the supreme leader Ali Khamenei is mistranslated to make him the new bogey man.

A recent Washington Post report includes this:

Israel defends its vociferous campaign against the agreement by pointing out that Israel is the object of Iranian taunts, and saying that a nuclear Iran is not only a geopolitical challenge for Israel, but poses an existential threat. The most recent proof, officials say, are comments last week by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, who referred to Israel as “the rabid dog of the region” and promised that “the Zionist regime is doomed to destruction.”

The link in that graph goes to an earlier WaPo piece which claims:

[Kerry] spoke hours after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, referred to Israel as the warmongering “rabid dog” of the Middle East during a speech to military commanders in Tehran.

But that is not at all what Khamenei said. He did not refer to Israel as the warmongering "rabid dog". As Arash Karami, who is from Iran, writes for Al-Monitor:

“Sometimes this is heard from the enemies of Iran, such as from the sinister mouth of the unclean rabid dog of the region in the Zionist regime,” [Khamenei] said, in a reference to Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

A correction at the end of the Al-Monitor piece explains:

Correction: An earlier version based on the transcript of several Iranian news agencies wrote that Ayatollah Khamenei called Israel a “rabid dog.” The correct text and audio was provided Khamenei’s website.

Al-Monitor is not the only outlet that used the correct phrase. CBN News is also aware of the corrected translation:

Khamenei called Netanyahu "…the sinister mouth of the unclear rabid dog of the region in the Zionist regime." He added, "The Zionist regime is an imposed regime…and this regime will not endure."

Note that the WaPo quote:

[Khamenei] promised that “the Zionist regime is doomed to destruction.”

is also wrong. According to the correct CBN News translation this was not a promise, but, like Ahmedinejad's "vanish from the pages of time" comment, a prediction that Israel as a Zionist entity will "not endure".

As the political discussion over the next stages of the preliminary U.S. Iran deal heats up we can expect that the mistranslated and wrong Khamenei quote will be repeated over and over again to demonize him and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Posted by b on November 25, 2013 at 01:09 PM | Permalink


thanks for addressing this directly.. it is this twisting of what was said that needs to be challenged more, but alas the mainstream media seems beholden to something much different then truth. i am always amazed how folks continue to consume any data from the nyt or wapo, let alone a number of other supposed news outlets..

Posted by: james | Nov 25, 2013 1:19:53 PM | 1

Why is this hydrophobic canaan trying to steal all the water in the region?

Posted by: biklett | Nov 25, 2013 1:32:42 PM | 2

I believe b may have it right. This agreement isn't likely to bring peace. Indeed, it may even exacerbate the march to war.

Call me a cynic, but I sincerely question the true motivations of this administration for their apparent conciliations. They must know that Israel's back is now against the wall.

Could this be a wink-wink for everyone to get the war they've always wanted?

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 25, 2013 1:38:11 PM | 3

The French media did the same thing on Wednesday about the Zionist regime is doomed to destruction.

They never never mentioned the Zionist regime instead they use the rhetoric of the pro-Likud " the destruction of Israel"

Posted by: Yul | Nov 25, 2013 1:46:55 PM | 4

@Yul #5
Is RTL stands for Radio Totalement Likud? Incredible how the French medias are sometime more likudniks than the israeli ones.

Posted by: gregg | Nov 25, 2013 2:02:01 PM | 5

#3 Could be that they need them to finish the virgin-seekers in Syria/Iraq (in exchange for more juicy contracts and bye bye EU integration).

Posted by: Mina | Nov 25, 2013 2:16:03 PM | 6

If you can, fix the typo in the head: "rabit."
If you can't don't bother.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 25, 2013 2:24:54 PM | 8

The story today in the NYT by Jodi Rudoren explicitly lays out the Israeli strategy going forward to hijack the agreement -- manufacture intelligence pointing to continuing Iranian construction on the Arak heavy-water reactor and the installation of more centrifuges.

The Saudis and Likudniks have to tread cautiously though. They have been so shrill in their public criticisms of Obama large swaths of the normally gullible public are tuning them out.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Nov 25, 2013 2:25:07 PM | 9


My understanding of the Persian text of Khamenei's speech is also that he refers to 'Israeli Regime':

"همانگونه كه برخی اوقات از دهان برخی دشمنان ملت ايران، از جمله از دهان نحسِ نجسِ سگ ِهار ِ منطقه يعنی رژيم صهيونيستی شنيده می شود."

"Just as sometimes it could be heard from the mouth of some of Iranian nation's enemies, such as the ugly (gloomy, ominous), unclean mouth of the rabid dog of this region: 'the Zionist regime'."

At any rate I see nothing wrong with calling Israel as the rabid dog of this region. Indeed it is.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Nov 25, 2013 3:05:41 PM | 10

I think the terms used by the Iranians to mean that the State of Israel will be wiped off the map, just like Yugoslavia was. The people, the cities, everythibng is still there, just politically reorganized. Serbia ( and other states) are there, but Yugoslavia has been wiped off the map. Iran sees a one state solution in the Levant. So do American Republicans and maybe half of the Israelis. The rest of the world wants a two state solution.

Posted by: Richard W. Crews | Nov 25, 2013 3:59:31 PM | 11

I love it! Let's hope it sticks: Netanyahu, Mad Dog of the Middle East! It describes him perfectly.

I'm going to use it every time I mention his name.

Posted by: JohnH | Nov 25, 2013 5:12:55 PM | 12

I think piruz-2 is right and khamenei was choosing his words very cautious.
On some point of his speech he was talking about france "some European leaders who are stakeholders of the zionists and try everything to apiece those Zionist leaders who doesn't even deserve it to be called humans" he called them "wuhush" that's something like wild animal or wild angry something.
But 2min before the basij crowed was chanting the "traditional" death to America and death to the unbelievers of the velayat Khamenei told them to keep that slogan for the right time(there was a discussion some week ago to drop the slogan)and even PressTV translated the slogan as " god is great and khamenei is the leader".
I think we will hear a lot more double speech the coming weeks.From both sites.
Btw for Farsi speakers: I had a big LOL as I was listening to his speech and I heard that "zahioniste nahse najess" he often says nahs but seldom ads najess to it.

Posted by: Some1 | Nov 25, 2013 5:38:20 PM | 13

Meanwhile, Angola bans Islam and demolishes mosques! I wonder whether they'll also ban Judaism?

Posted by: Odin's Raven | Nov 25, 2013 7:10:20 PM | 14

Oh dear!
Not happening

Posted by: Odin's Raven | Nov 25, 2013 7:43:14 PM | 15

And besides, the far right in Israel is composed of rapid dogs.

Posted by: D | Nov 25, 2013 8:35:50 PM | 16

Look at his tweet:

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Nov 26, 2013 7:13:46 AM | 17


Posted by: brian | Nov 26, 2013 8:38:09 AM | 18

mother Agnes to be on Galloways progam on RT?

George Galloway @georgegalloway 24m
Catch Mother Agnes of The Cross on @RT_sputnik on Saturday. See what Owen Jones et al were so afraid of...

Sputnik @RT_sputnik 17h
Thanks to Owen Jones and Jeremy Scahill you won't see Mother Agnes at STW Saturday but you will see her on Sputnik!

Posted by: brian | Nov 26, 2013 8:38:59 AM | 19

Well, I have heard this about the mistranslation of Ahmadinejihad many times and quite frankly it is nothing more than hair-splitting.

In order to "vanish from history" Israel would certainly also have to be "disappeared" as a nation state, whether that results from a withering away or a wiping away is but a minour quibble.

I say this as an I/P agnostic who takes great delite in remaining outside both camps. Generally, for teh record my sympathies lie with the underdog Pals, but overall I see a Middle East that badly needs more non-Arabic influence from the Persians as well as the dreaded Kurds and the Turks to lead the great Arabic peoples above their current state of sociopolitical economic wretchedness. Much of this result frankly can be laid at the feet of their leaders following the Stalinist model well beyond its sell-by date.

My own cherished hope is that someday the nation-state as we know it withers away and dies to be replaced by a one world non-government overseen by the Buddha within us all, but that's just my own pie-eyed idealism and of course is a distinctly apolitical hope. I don't believe much in any political solutions for the universally cosmic problem that is known within as "mankind," at least as long as man remains so udderly unenlightened.

As for the rabid dog comment, I fail to see much in the way of a difference between characterising (Get the) Netanyahu as either a rabid dog or simply the rabid dog's mouth. In some ways, calling him the latter is even more insulting as it dehumanizes, er, I mean decaninizes the Old Yeller...

Posted by: donkeytale | Nov 26, 2013 9:21:56 AM | 20


“We’re closely monitoring the current political developments in Iran, but we don’t currently plan to reenter the market,” Daimler spokeswoman

No? Than, why a facist Joshka was in Tehran? To admire Tehran's Bazaar, and Blue Dome's of mosque?

If I were the Iranian I would make deal with the Koreans (KIA) and the Japanese (Isuzu), even with the Chinese (Cheery). And, let the White Man filming more of Argos, and allow them to be "lost in translation" while making the deals with Asians. Heh, the shift is underway to Asia, anyway.

From China.

He urged the United States "not to choose side" over the issue and "make no more inappropriate remarks."

being the US ambassador in Being isn't easy these days, when they say to you, "shut up", else...

Posted by: neretva'43 | Nov 26, 2013 9:51:25 AM | 21

Rhetoric of the sort involving erasures plays into the hands of the Holocaust industrialists, determined to eke out the last morsel of nutrition from the millions of Jews who, undoubtedly, suffered in the NAZI genocide.

It ought to be clear by now that talking in this way, which invites propagandists to distort and misrepresent the position of anti-zionists, is just what Netanyahu and the Jabotinsky-ites want. It is the core of their theory. It is what revisionist zionism, a form of fascism is all about: the notion that Jews live in continual danger of being wiped out and must, therefore, strike pre-emptively at anyone who appears to harbour any doubts as to Israel's absolute right to do as it pleases.

For my own part, I do believe that Israel must be removed from the map and that this will be part of the settlement that must be made with the indigenous inhabitants, the colonists and the expatriates.

(I believe that, similarly, throughout the Empire, in Australia, Canada, the United States, Latin America etc ad nauseum, settlements involving restoration must be made. And that proper reparations will have to be made to those bearing the victim's burden of the slave trade. I believe that the working classes of the Metropoles, equally victimised in the Empire, will also enforce justice in society and re-appropriate the lands and labour that has been stolen from them.)

The point, however is not revenge, but the restoration of community and justice, neither of which can exist without the other. When we talk of wiping Israel off the map, it ought always to be in the context of restoring to all people their rights and protecting their persons from violence and abuse.

I disagree with donkeytale's restatement of classic imperialist ideology. It ought not to pass without comment:

"I see a Middle East that badly needs more non-Arabic influence from the Persians as well as the dreaded Kurds and the Turks to lead the great Arabic peoples above their current state of sociopolitical economic wretchedness..."

The idea that the middle east suffers from "Arabic influences" is unsustainable. Arabs have almost no influence at all in the region. That is the problem: their rulers are invariably either under the direct command of imperialists or intellectually fascinated by the ideology of Empire, believing their people to be "under developed", "backward, in need of "modernisation" in "transition to democracy" or some other cant euphemism for being deprived of the right to self rule. Even in religious matters islam is currently hi-jacked by a wahhabi-lite cult sponsored by imperialism which is totally at odds with the religion from the Arab heartland.

What the middle east needs is the expulsion of imperialists' puppets from Sissi through the Kings and Sultans to Netanyahu himself.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 26, 2013 10:03:04 AM | 22

oh, so that's where the dog line came from! Israeli shills are all over the media barking about it.

bevin is right - the dog line is just the usual attempt to demand that the US blow away another country to prevent the next holocaust. same old.

I sure wish the voices in the media could REMEMBER that Israel/Palestine is only HALF Jewish, so the fictional fear of Iran lobbing plutonium at it is NOT a holocaust.

Posted by: anon | Nov 26, 2013 10:25:40 AM | 23

p.s. I guess I should keep pointing out that the bottom line behind all this is that Israel fears any country having leadership which does not support its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

makes for some funny rhetoric coming out of the shills. I heard them saying they worry about the well-being of their dear beloved Saudi royal family and the "stability" of the region which requires such monstrous regimes... you can't make this stuff up!

Posted by: anon | Nov 26, 2013 10:33:35 AM | 24

After "Yellow peril" disciplined US foreign policy telling them: "'not to choose side' over the issue and 'make no more inappropriate remarks.'".

"U.S. Sent B-52s Over Disputed China Air Zone, Official Says"!

Posted by: neretva'43 | Nov 26, 2013 1:27:17 PM | 25

@ neretva'43- why a facist Joshka was in Tehran?
I gess he wanted everybody to know that NABUCCO,in HIS mind,is still possible.
The cosortium he is working for has spent more than 50.Mil for pre-planing till now.On those days of power his chancelor schröder took the other side, South-Stream,because his russian friend putin told him nabucco is not possible without iranian Gas.
But maybe joshkas wife (old iranian aristocrat family) was better conected?

Posted by: Some1 | Nov 26, 2013 2:41:29 PM | 26

Not sure Nabucco is still possible, but you never know, I am not sure either that Iranians would look favorably at Nabucco.
There will be gas pipeline from Iran (gigantic South and North Pars gas fields) via Iraq to Syria's coast. Germany certainly would like to diversify its energy sources, since Iran isn't "threat" in any way the trading deal is quite possible. Win-win situation for both sides.
Problem might arise German's have a good relationship with Qatar, big buyer of German weapons, and Iran's contender in gas business.
I would say that Iran is in the most advantageous position of all. Yes, Schröder is still member of Gazprom's board of directors.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Nov 26, 2013 3:33:16 PM | 27

Helga Maria Schmidt, was the organiser and detail worker of the talks.It is a very strange but important side note of the geneva talks that she, now the "office maneger" of C.Ashton , had the same position while working for joshka fisher and before him for Solana and befor him for Kinkel.
Have you ever asked yourself why Germany is the +1 in the Iran talks?

Posted by: Some1 | Nov 26, 2013 5:33:17 PM | 28

Neretva,did you know that the former office manager of joshka is currently in the same position for Mrs. Ashton and that she was one of the big organisers behind the scene in the geneva talks.She also had the same position for Solana and Kinkel.
ever asked youself why germany is the +1 in the negotiations?

Posted by: Some1 | Nov 27, 2013 7:50:09 AM | 29

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