This week, one of the high ranking Iranian Ayatollahs expressed his resistance to war with Israel and warned against the warmongering rhetoric espoused by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, the Muslim cleric who made the statements, is aligned with a reformist element in the Iranian government that is known as one of Iran’s top interpreters of Islamic Law.  He also was part of the movement that staged a short-lived revolution in the wake of the elections in 2009 that returned Ahmadinejad to the presidency.

According to reports, during a speech during the Eid-Al-Fitr festival at the end of Ramadan, Sanei expressed his objection to war with Israel and the rhetoric expressed by members of the Iranian government.  Those comments said that war would hurt Iran, especially in the country’s current unstable condition.  Iran has been under severe sanctions for its nuclear program which is likely aiming to produce a nuclear weapon that can be used against Israel.  Those sanctions have crippled the nation’s economy, but have as of yet not stopped the Iranian pursuit of nuclear technology.

The comments also included a stern warning to Israel against attacking Iran in any form, saying that it would be akin to “playing with gunpowder” and that the Iranian reaction would destroy the country.  Sanei reiterated his support for universal human rights, while hypocritically saying that they do not apply to Israel and that Iran would destroy Israel with no regard for human life if it is attacked.  Sanei encouraged Iranians to use other means to destroy Israel, such as using pens to write letters to end support for the nation, prayers to G-d to destroy the country and behaving as “proper Muslims”.

Sanei’s comments come in the wake of particularly violent rhetoric expressed by Iranian President Ahmadinejed last week that called for the eradication of Israel and referred to the nation as a “tumor”.  In addition, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameinei called for the destruction of Israel.  The Iranian government’s comments were made during “Al-Quds Day”, when it usually expresses violent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments as well as threats of war.  They also decried western defense of Israel.