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Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, recently took to Twitter and compared the creation of the State of Israel to the COVID-19 virus. He wrote: Some argue that the Zionist regime is a reality that the region must come to terms with. Today the #Covid_19 is a reality; should it be accepted or fought?! The long-lasting virus of Zionism will be uprooted thanks to the determination and faith of the youth. #Covid1948.

(June 5, 2020 / JNS)

Although neither I nor Mr. Khamenei are doctors, I would agree with his diagnosis – not with his prognosis. I agree with Mr. Khamenei that Israel is a virus, but not the type he is referring to. In medicine there are many types of bacteria and viruses, some of which are bad for us, like COVID-19, and some good for us. Bacteriophages (or “phages”), for instance, are viruses that infect and destroy specific bacteria. Mr. Khamenei can thank these Therapeutic phages for treating his streptococcus and other bacterial pathogens.

To determine whether Israel is a harmful virus, as Mr. Khamenei suggests, let’s take a look at what Israel has contributed to the world and compare Israel and Iran in a few key metrics of a healthy society to see which country is the harmful virus that needs to be eradicated and which is the good virus helping the world become a better place.

To start, Israel has invented Azilect to treat Parkinson’s, and Copaxone to treat multiple scleroses. I am sure that Mr. Khamenei would be delighted to know that his USB and the first VoIP were developed in Israel too. Not to mention drip irrigation, Waze, Wix, and many more medical devices and discoveries. I think it is safe to say that Israel has been saving lives of many people around the world thanks to these inventions.

Ali Khamenei served as the President of Iran from 1981-1989. The year before Khamenei became President, Iran’s GDP per Capita (current USD) was ranked 55 in the world. Under his presidency Iran’s ranking dropped to 72 place. How did Israel perform between those years? They were stagnant at 35 place. In 1989 Khamenei became the Supreme Leader of his country. While Israel’s ranking has risen from 1989 to 2017 (the last year the World Bank has data on Iran) from 35 place to 25, Iran continued dropping to 107 place in the world.

When looking at other metrics, such as the ranking of happiness and life expectancy, it seemsthat Israel has a healthy society – certainly healthier than that of Iran’s. Out of the 153 countries that were examined, Israel is positioned in 14 place, Iran 118. Similarly, the UNDP ranked Israel’s life expectancy at 19, ahead of Iran in 75.

I would therefore suggest that Mr. Khamenei stop tweeting from his cellphone, which most likely has a chip, technology, or cyber security system that was developed in Israel, and start working on fixing his society. He can start by abandoning his nuclear program, defund terrorist activities that destabilize the region, and adopt some human rights, an invention which happens to be rooted in ancient Persia by Cyrus the Great but were clearly forgotten under Mr. Khamenei’s leadership.

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About the Author

Benjamin Weil
Benjamin Weil is Director of the Project for Israel’s National Security at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). He formerly served as the international adviser to Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of Israel’s Security Cabinet.

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