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November 26, 2014 3:57 pm

Expert Challenges Associated Press Report on Iran Jews, Says Anti-Semitism is ‘Founding Pillar’ of Regime

avatar by Ben Cohen

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A worshipper at a synagogue in Tehran. Photo: Twitter

American-led efforts to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program may have reached a dead end this week, but claims that the human rights situation in the country has improved – a popular theme as the Obama Administration pushed for a historic rapprochement with Tehran – continue to spread through the media.

At the time of the 1979 Islamic revolution, around 100,000 Jews were living in Iran. That number has now dwindled to not more than 20,000. While the experience of Iran’s Jews since Ayatollah Khomeini seized power has been marked by repression, arrests, and a media-led diet of Holocaust denial, according to a report by Associated Press reporter Ali Akbar Dareini, that situation is now changing.

Iran’s Jews, Dareini says, have “found new acceptance under moderate President Hassan Rouhani.” Homayoun Samiah, leader of the Tehran Jewish Association, is quoted as saying, “The government has listened to our grievances and requests. That we are being consulted is an important step forward. Under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, nobody was listening to us. Our requests fell on deaf ears.”

Since Rouhani took office last year, Dareini writes, “Jews say they have been heartened by the support they’ve received. His government agreed to allow Jewish schools to be closed on Saturdays to mark Shabbat, the day of rest. Rouhani also allocated the equivalent of $400,000 to a Jewish charity hospital in Tehran and invited the country’s only Jewish lawmaker to accompany him to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last year.”

However, continued skepticism of the Iranian regime’s true intentions is warranted. A report issued in March this year, several months after Rouhani came to power, by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran, noted that “under the law, religious minorities, including recognized Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians, also face discrimination in the judicial system, such as harsher punishments than Muslims for certain crimes, and are barred from serving as judges.”

Saba Farzan, a German-Iranian journalist and the Executive Director of the Foreign Policy Circle, a Berlin-based think-tank, told The Algemeiner that the AP article “misses many key issues about how difficult circumstances are for the Iranian Jewish community.”

“Iranian Jews have to constantly distance themselves from Israel and Zionism, their synagogues are literally falling apart and discrimination against them is run by the Iranian state – Jews can’t become civil servants under the Islamic Republic,” Farzan said. “Things might have improved a little bit, but  anti-Semitism is a founding pillar of the Iranian regime.”

Rouhani’s rhetoric on Israel is a little different from that of his predecessor, Ahmadinejad. In July, during the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, the Iranian president described Israel as a “festering Zionist tumor” that had “turned the land of olives into destruction and blood and littered the land with the body parts of Palestinian children.”

Visiting New York for the UN General Assembly in 2013, Rouhani dodged a question from NBC journalist Ann Curry, who asked him whether he shared Ahmadinejad’s view that the Holocaust was a “myth.” “I’m not a historian. I’m a politician,” Rouhani answered. “What is important for us is that the people, the nations in our region should get closer to one another.” And a few weeks before that exchange, Rouhani’s office denied that he had tweeted greetings to the Jewish community on the occasion of Rosh Hashana, saying, “President Hassan Rouhani has no tweeter (sic) account.”

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  • Judy Silver-Shapiro

    WHAT SAY YOU, SON-OF-ISLAM obama and the rest of the international community who were silent and COMPLICITOUS during mankind and history’s darkest hours-the HOLOCAUST?

  • steven L

    The US ( 5+ 1) is delaying the INEVITABLE. Give in or take military action short of an economic blocus of Iran. The Pr. track record leads to the believe that he will give in.

  • Jim42

    “”Being listened “” by such a sort of Jerks is the same as by Nazis, whose maneuvering all the time, forward and reverse, made Jews losing their mind and spirit, and collaborate to their own destruction.
    Iran Jews are coward and feeble…they should have left that country long ago and have no excuse for remaining there since Khomeiny arrival.
    Old french Jews like me, would leave even right now if they weren’t old and ill….!
    I don’t fear anything, anymore, now; but my enemies can fear me more surely…!
    But young people with a Future, have really no excuse.

  • NCS

    My question is are the 20,000 Jews in Iran even allowed to leave? From all I’ve read, it is no picnic living in Israel and making a living if you are not skilled in some professional field. Still it is the only place that Jews are truly free. If I lived in Iran I would do all I could to get out alive and come to live in The State of Israel.

  • Brian B

    Associated Press has long ago relinquished its role as a fair-balance reporting organization. It has however, been successful at being a much used “news” source for purchase to other media outlets. This is a very bad outcome for responsible readers and for Israel in particular.

  • Sharon DaGuerre

    I wonder if the writer of this post is an arab??? seeing all of the atrosities which are happening in Iran, leads me to believe just the oppposite is true. Iran is safe for muslims only, as for Christians and Jews their lives are at risk every second they are in that country. As for Obama doing anything to prevent these atrosites; please spare us these lies, obama is a much a murdering muslim, as anyone else from the musliim countries.

  • Iran continues to perpetrate the lies (which is totally encouraged in Islam) and the West continues to naively believe them. Islam is the ONLY religion that I’m aware of that encourages lying to promote it’s agenda(which should send up a big red flag to anyone who takes the time to study Islam). They DO NOT worship the G-d of Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya’akov as so many uninformed Westerners ignorantly believe and former president Bush declared was the same G-d that Jews and Christians worship. Any religion that advocates lying and deception is itself a lie! Y’shua stated in the gospel of Yochanan 10:10 “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure. Promoters of radical Islam use “political correctness” in the West to promote their radical agenda along with frivolous lawsuits against anyone who dares speak the truth about them. That or issue a fatwah against them. Everywhere radical Islam goes it seeks to steal, kill and destroy! Any informed intelligent individual should know who the father of lies is. Rouhani’s dodging the question of the Holocaust wasn’t “dodging.” It’s called “deception.” There is a difference and it’s Not a question of semantics. It’s time for the non-Islamic world to wake up before it’s too late!

  • Carl

    The major news outlets have long ago given up on true investigative reporting and are merely shills for Arab/Muslim propaganda.

  • ted weiss

    Obama is in infatuation with the Islamic state , and he decided to overlook any human rights violation in exchange for a BAD deal with Iran over a nuclear bomb

  • art frank

    Vile regime led by knuckle dragging mullahs spreading anti-Semitism and promoting a return to the dark ages.

  • Julian Clovelley

    “What is important for us is that the people, the nations in our region should get closer to one another.”


    What we need to do, as people, is to cease being apart, and that can only happen when at a spiritual level – at the level of the experience of transcendence – we acknowledge that diversity is essential to understanding, that there can be no validity in religion unless there are several, and not just one – for even a unique understanding will manifest itself in different forms, according to environment and culture…

    And that that is how it is meant to be. That is the living, the organic within us. Sometimes scriptures – any scriptures – can be misunderstood in a manner that separates us from our true identity as conscious beings – and then from each other.

    We do not need to get closer to each other – we need to stop being apart. The distance we experience from each other is purely imaginery, and a product of fear.

    I don’t want to hate either the Jewish people or the Iranians. I would gladly sit with all of them, sharing their hospitality, their art and their dreams

    Must the mullahs, the rabbis and the priests make it so hard for us to be as we really are? Must our politicians follow so distorted a lead or debase it further for such selfish, divisive and militaristic agendas?

    Whatever happened to the duty of care that is the core responsibility of those who lead us?. There is neither security nor stability in encouraging division on the basis of perceived differences.

  • manley

    If Iran is being more favorable to Jews living in Iran, it sounds like fattening the lambs before the slaughter.

  • Dr. Stephen Steinlight

    This absurd, Pollyannaish account of the alleged improvement in the lives of Iranian Jewry by the AP’s Tehran correspondent, Ali Akbar Dareini, is either the product of mendacity or staggering naivete. The AP’s use of the “official” head of the Tehran Jewish Association as an authoritative source for imaginary change without any recognition that the man is effectively a hostage of the Khomeini/Rouhani regime beggars the imagination. Does Dareini or the AP believe Mr. Samiah can speak freely? This recalls an incident that took place at the end of a rabbinic cabinet’s mission to Turkey several years ago. At a final meeting with the “official head” of Istanbul’s Jewish community — conducted in a room that was undoubtedly wired — the “Jewish leader” told the rabbis they must return home and tell the American media that Turkey’s Jews are happy and, more important, they should cease their efforts to cause the Turkish regime to recognize Turkish moral responsibility for the Armenian Genocide. One can only pity captive Jewish leaders reduced to such pathetic antics. But Mr. Dareini and the AP shame journalistic standards by taking as truth the words of hostages.

  • RobiMac

    I just don’t understand why any Jews anywhere are living in Arab states. It makes no sense to me at all

    • Emmanuel Goldstein

      I don’t understand why Jews are living ANYWHERE but Israel. Now that we have a homeland, all Jews should return to the holy land.

  • Eric R.

    AP = Arab Propaganda