The Jews of Iran are Far Better Off Than Palestinians of Gaza
by Mike Whitney [*]
There are 25,000 Jews in Iran, which is the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside Israel. Iranian Jews are not persecuted or abused, in fact, they are protected under the Iranian constitution. They are free to practice their religion and to vote in elections. They are not stopped and searched at checkpoints, are not brutalized by an army of occupation and are not confined in a densely populated penal colony (Gaza) where they are deprived of the basic means of subsistence. Iranian Jews live in dignity and enjoy the benefits of citizenship.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is demonized by Western media. He is called anti-Semitic and a "new Hitler." But if these allegations were true, then why did the majority of Iranian Jews vote for Ahmadinejad in the recent presidential elections? Is it possible that most of what is known about Ahmadinejad is based only on rumors and propaganda?
This excerpt appeared in a BBC article:
"The cabinet (Ahmadinejad's) recently made a monetary donation to the Jewish hospital in Tehran. It is one of only four Jewish charity hospitals worldwide and was founded with money from the Jewish diaspora - something remarkable in Iran where even local help organizations have difficulty receiving funds from abroad for fear of being accused of being foreign agents."
When did Hitler ever donate money to hospitals for Jews? The analogy with Hitler is a desperate attempt to brainwash Americans. It tells us absolutely nothing about who Ahmadinejad really is.
The lies about Ahmadinejad are not different from the lies about Saddam Hussein or Hugo Chavez. The U.S. and Israel are trying to create a justification for another war. That is why the media credits Ahmadinejad for things he never said. He never said he wants to "wipe Israel off the map". This is another fiction. Jonathan Cook, the author explains what the president actually said:
"This myth has been endlessly recycled since there was a mistranslation of Ahmadinejad in a speech two years ago. Farsi experts testified that the Iranian president, far from threatening the destruction of Israel, was quoting an old speech of Ayatollah Khomeini in which he reassures the supporters of Palestine that "the Zionist regime in Jerusalem would "vanish from the pages of time."
He was not threatening to exterminate Jews or Israel. He was comparing Israel's occupation of Palestine with other illegitimate systems whose time had passed, including the Shah's, who once ruled Iran, apartheid South Africa and the Soviet empire [NR]. Nevertheless, the erroneous translation has survived and prospered because Israel and its supporters have exploited it for their own propaganda purposes (" Israel's Jewish problem in Tehran," Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada).
Ahmadinejad poses no threat to Israel or the U.S. As everyone in the Middle East, he just wants relief from Israeli and American aggression.
This is from Wikipedia:
"The U.S. State Department has alleged discrimination against Jews in Iran. According to their study, the Jews cannot occupy important positions in government and are forbidden to serve in the judiciary and security services and become directors of public schools . The study says that Jewish citizens can obtain passports and travel outside the country, but they are often denied permission to multiple outputs normally accorded to other citizens.
The allegations made by the North American State Department were condemned by Iranian Jews. The Association of Jews in Tehran said in a statement, "We Iranian Jews condemn the statements by the U.S. State Department on Iranian religious minorities, we announced that we are completely free to perform our religious duties and not feel any restriction to perform our religious rituals."
Who should we believe: Jews who actually live in Iran or troublemakers in the American State Department?
There are six kosher butchers, 11 synagogues and several Jewish schools in Tehran. No employee of Ahmadinejad or any other Iranian government agency made any attempt to close these facilities. Never. Iranian Jews are free to travel (or move) to Israel if they so wish. They are not trapped by an army of occupation. They are not deprived of food or medicine. Their children do not grow with mental illness arising from the trauma of sporadic violence. Their families are not affected by armed boats shooting while moving on beaches. Their supporters are not crushed by bulldozers or hit in the head by rubber bullets. They are not affected by gas or beaten when they do peaceful demonstrations for civil liberties. Their leaders are not hunted and killed with premeditation.
Roger Cohen wrote a very careful essay on this subject for The New York Times. He says:
"Maybe I'm a little biased in relation to facts rather than words, but I say that the reality of Iranian civility about Jews says more to us about Iran - the refinement and culture - all that inflamed rhetoric. This may be due to the fact that I am a Jew and have often been treated with such kindness in Iran. Or maybe I am impressed by the fury against Gaza, trumpeted in posters and on Iranian TV, to never having been converted to insults or violence against Jews. Or maybe it's because I am.
Translated from the Portuguese version by: