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May 1, 2023 5:48 pm

Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi Calls for Secular, Democratic Iran at ADL Summit


avatar by Andrew Bernard

Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi addresses the Anti-Defamation League’s National Leadership Summit, 30 April, 2023 (Photo: ADL)

Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi on Sunday evening called for a secular, democratic Iran with close ties to Israel and the Jewish people on Sunday at the Anti-Defamation League’s annual leadership summit.

Pahlavi, who is the son of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and has been living in exile in the United States for decades, said the Islamic Republic was driven by a “blind animus towards the Jewish people” and cited the example of Cyrus the Great as inspiration for restoring the millennia of ties between Iranians and Jews that were severed by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

“In a future secular and democratic Iran, the rule of law, based not only on the international declaration of human rights, but on Cyrus the Great’s first ever declaration, will establish and guarantee freedom of religion as a fundamental right, so that Iran can return to its roots as a nation where people of different faiths live and worship freely alongside each other,” Pahlavi said. “In such an Iran, this will extend our relation with all of our neighbors based on the principle of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence. That is the Iran I envision. That is the Iran my compatriots are fighting for.”

The speech follows Pahlavi’s visit to Israel in April, during which he participated in a Holocaust memorial event at Yad Vashem on Yom HaShoah, Israel’s Holocaust memorial day, and prayed at the Western Wall.

“My trip to Israel was not merely to stand on principle,” Pahlavi said Sunday. “I went with a new vision for our region. A vision that is not bogged down in the forced ideological divisions of recent decades, but instead based on the ancient ways of our lands and connections between our people.”

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While his remarks at the ADL event were positive, on Twitter on Sunday Pahlavi chastised 32 Israeli MKs who had written to Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen calling for the independence of the South Azerbaijan region of Iran and support for its separatist movement.

“The verbal assault on Iran’s territorial integrity by 32 members of the Israeli parliament is completely unacceptable and a service to the interests of the anti-Iranian Islamic Republic regime,” Pahlavi wrote. “Moreover, it is in total conflict with the positions communicated to me by Israeli leaders and senior government officials during my recent meetings with them.”

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