A poster in celebration of Iran’s attack on Israel in Tehran (April 2024)

The Art Of Ridicule: Iranians Mock IRGC Attack On Israel

Tuesday, 04/16/2024

For the last 45 years, Iranians have resorted to using humor as a crutch in coping with the country’s various challenges – including the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, ongoing economic struggles, and the nuclear crisis.

In Iranian society – where there is no freedom of speech, media, or assembly – humor and political jokes are often used as a vital form of resistance, to make sense of hardships and provide momentary relief to forget one’s daily struggles.

Of course, this phenomenon has a history in other totalitarian regimes, like the Soviet Union. During the Soviet period, political jokes served as a form of social protest, mocking and criticizing leaders, the system, its ideology, myths, and routines.

Iranian political satire dates back to the Constitutional Movement era. The critical works of Ali Akbar Dehkhoda and Ashrafuddin Gilani, along with critical magazines such as Tolou’-e Mosavvar, Adab, Kashkool, and Azerbaijan, constitute a significant heritage in contemporary Iranian literature. Political satire flourished in the works of writers such as Gholamhossein Saedi, Jalal Ale-Ahmad, Bahram Sadeghi, and Javad Mojabi in the 1960s and 1970s and Towfeeq Magazine in the 1920s to 1960s. Being acquainted with this tradition, Iranians from all walks of life know the effectiveness of this genre and take part in producing sarcasm, parody, and scorn.

Before social media and smartphones, Iranians used to crack political jokes in taxis, barber shops, public baths, and coffee shops to ridicule the Islamist regime’s policies and officials.

Now, with 60 million smartphones in their hands, Iranians are busy entertaining each other online. Immediately after the news of the IRGC missile and drone attacks on Israel, jokes were circulated all over the country: the number of jokes were limitless.

The jokes mocked the Iranian military action so effectively that it prompted the state-owned TV stations to try to retaliate – though their jokes came across as flat and unassuming. The IRGC’s Intelligence Unit and the judiciary also made threats to prosecute anyone who ridiculed and criticized the military establishment.

Here is a sample of these jokes in Persian and English. Iranians began making fun of what happened in the early hours of April 13th, 2024 – with nothing beyond their colorful imaginations.

“By God (or frankly), if they had thrown cucumbers, the casualties would have been higher.”

A sarcastic remark about the ineffectiveness of the IRGC missiles used in the attack – suggesting that even something as harmless as cucumbers could have been more damaging.

“Addressed to the ruling clerics: ‘If you had thrown your diapers, at least Israel would have been busy cleaning up’."

The reference of diapers here, likely a sarcastic reference to the age of many of the Shiite clerics ruling Iran.

"If Iran would have donated free ‘Pride’ cars to Israel instead of these drones and missiles, it would have cost less and caused more damage."

A humorous critique suggesting that Iran’s domestic car brand, Pride, known for its poor quality – would have been more problematic for Israel than the attack. Thereby, making the donation of Pride cars, being both cheaper and more effective in causing a disruption for Israel.

"Erbil, Ilam, and Kermanshah were in the path of these flying water heaters. Why the properties in Shiraz and Mamasani?"

Calling the missiles and drones "flying water heaters", the joke pokes fun at the fact that the Iranian attack hit cities that were not on the flight path – like Shiraz and Mamasani.

"The missiles launched by the Islamic Republic towards Israel enjoyed the journey more. The destination wasn't important."

The joke suggests that the missiles were more concerned with their flight than actually reaching their intended target, emphasizing their ineffectiveness or the lack of impact they had upon arrival.

"The sound of this truck's exhaust you hear is actually the engine of a Revolutionary Guards' drone secretly flying from Iraq towards Israel, and it will arrive there in another seven hours. All this secrecy wasn't necessary, brave one."

The use of the word “brave one” in this joke references the fact that Israel was aware of Iran’s unfolding attack for hours – rendering any supposed “bravery” of the operation futile or even comical.

"They would have arrived sooner if they had taken Snapp."

"Snapp" refers to a popular ride-hailing app in Iran, similar to Uber. The joke suggests that if the Iranian forces had used a commercial ride-sharing service for drones, similar to calling a taxi, their mission wouldn’t have taken so long to execute.

The drones must have stopped somewhere to pray; otherwise, they shouldn't have taken this long."

Iranian society has undergone mass secularization in recent years. The sarcastic remark of stopping for prayer pokes fun at the Islamic Republic’s ideology – often a point of ridicule for many Iranians who don’t align with the regime’s Islamist point of view. Iranian bus companies make scheduled stops for passengers to pray during long trips.

“Now that the drone is stuck in the electric wire, hope its technology will not get in the hands of the enemy.”

Underlining the drone’s ineffectiveness, the remark sarcastically implying the minimal value or sophistication of the technology – should it fall into enemy hands.

“We created a fun Chaharshanbe Suri for them. Special thanks to the Sepah and the Iron Dome for creating this exciting night."

Chaharshanbe Suri is an Iranian festival celebrated on the last Wednesday before the Persian New Year (Norouz), involving fireworks and bonfires, symbolizing the warding off of evil spirits. The sentence sarcastically compares the attacks to the festival's fireworks, likely a reference to the fact that the Iron Dome intercepted 99% of the Iranian missiles/drones.

“The word ‘Pahpad’ is very chic. We should call the drones ‘Pahnemat’ instead.”

The word ‘pahpad’ in Persian means drone. The satirical term, ‘pahnemat’ is a way to suggest that the drones sent by the IRGC are as insignificant or useless as dog excrement.

“We have told everyone that we hit them. You should do the same. It makes no difference.”

The phrase, written in a thuggish tone, humorously suggests that despite the attack's failure, the authorities are insisting on claiming success and encouraging others to affirm this claim, regardless of the truth.

"- Did the missiles not arrive?
- No. They're still stuck in tunnel number 3.
- Or perhaps they've been demolished by the Darreshahr Iron Dome.”

In this case, the Darreshahr Iron Dome is an imaginary defense system – poking fun at the length of time it took for the Iranian attack to be carried out and drawing a parallel to the sophisticated Iron Dome in Israel.

"Addressing the drones: Go with your lights off; they won't hit you."

This joke suggests that turning off the lights on the drones may prevent them from being detected or targeted by Israel’s defense systems – with a sarcastic attitude towards the effectiveness of the drones.

“We are not from Kufa for Bibi to be left alone.”

This joke draws a parallel to a historical event in Islamic history where people from Kufa in Iraq, betrayed Ali (the first Shia Imam) resulting in his martyrdom. Typically, regime supporters use the phrase suggesting that they will not leave Ali alone. In this context, “Bibi” is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – and it's a sarcastic way of showing support for Israel – instead of the Iranian regime.

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