The last time an Iranian official used Hebrew to communicate with Jews was Rosh Hashanah 5776, when President Hassan Rouhani wished a happy new year for the Jewish community all over the world. “May our shared Abrahamic roots deepen respect & bring peace & mutual understanding,” Rouhani tweeted, ending his message with the Hebrew phrase “L’Shanah Tovah,” meaning “May it be a good year.”
This week, though, the Iranians used Hebrew in a radically different context: the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Wednesday fired 2 Iranian-made “Qadr H” ballistic missiles from the Eastern Alborz Mountains, as part of ongoing IRGC drills in Central Iran and elsewhere around the country. According to Fars, “One missile had a message written on it that said in Hebrew: ‘Israel should be wiped off the Earth.'”
According to Israel Radio, the Hebrew message actually read: “Khayavim l’hashmid et Israel” – “Must destroy Israel,” not wiping “off the Earth,” which means the Fars writer doesn’t know Hebrew or decided to add flare to the note, which had to be compact because you can only fit so much Hebrew on the side of a ballistic missile.
Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC said the missile firings are a firm response to the embargoes against Iran’s missile defense program. “Our enemies have realized that broader sanctions and security pressures have had little impact on our capabilities. That’s why they now seek to confine us in the missile field through economic sanctions,” Jafari said.
He insisted that Iran’s defense power and national security are non-negotiable, adding that the ballistic missile firings proved the IRGC’s silos are operational. He further noted that “the security of Iran is the security of the region, and we will do our utmost to ensure our country’s security.”
Jafari then added, “It is the enemies of the Islamic Revolution and regional security that should be afraid of the IRGC missiles.”
That, of course, explains the Hebrew message, and, indeed, the message came through. Perhaps there would be a response some time in the future.