Human rights activist responds to Iran framework agreement

In 2002, Joseph Wahed (Z”L) and I cofounded JIMENA, a human rights organization committed to raising awareness to violations committed against Jews from Arab countries and Iran by Anti-Semitic regimes and political movements. As a North African human rights activist who survived violent Anti-Semitic persecution in my native Libya, I created and use JIMENA to give voice to thousands of former Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa whose communities were pulverized, dispossessed and ultimately displaced by regimes who refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. JIMENA has never taken a position on nuclear energy, but in the last week multiple people have asked our opinion and for an official statement on the Iranian nuclear framework agreement.

While our organization claims no expertise on nuclear energy and uranium enrichment, we remain concerned that the Iranian regime is a leading supporter of extremist organizations and state-sponsored terrorism. We are horrified by the blatant violations of human and civil rights suffered by Iranian dissidents, gays, ethnic and religious minorities, prisoners of conscience, and the democratic movement in Iran who oppose the current regime. Second to China, Iran executes more people than any other country in this world.

We should not forget that the Iranian regime was behind the terror attack in Argentina, when 85 Jews were killed by a bomb blast at the JCC in Buenos Aries. Iranian political leaders and the Islamic extremists who run the country continue to regularly call for the annihilation of Israel, even as nuclear negotiations continue. In 2012 the United States State Department identified Iran as “an active state sponsor of terrorism” and the regime has been tied to deadly terrorist attacks against American and Israeli interests in India, Lebanon, Panama, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.

Iranian born JIMENA member, Karmel Melamed recently pointed some extremely troubling statistics worth brining up here. In January of 2015 he wroteaccording to a recent report by UN envoy for human rights in Iran, Ahmad Shaheed, there have been at least 1,100 executions in the 15 months since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been in office. Likewise the report states that Iran has the highest number of executions per capita, and is the biggest executioner of juvenile offenders. Death sentences for ethnic and religious minorities have also increased dramatically. There are five main reasons for punishment by death in Iran: heresy, homosexuality, rape, murder and armed struggle– nearly all of executions have been performed secretly.”

I am not an expert in nuclear deals, but if we are looking at removal of sanctions with Iran and this regime is not being held accountable for any of their domestic and foreign terrorist activities and their human rights violations, then what sort of deal is it? None of the parameters within the nuclear framework agreement deal with Iran’s atrocious civil rights or human rights record, or the fact that Iran continues to be the biggest state supporter of terrorism today. Do we want to have an agreement with a regime who calls for the annihilation of Israel? Do we want to have an agreement with a regime that hangs gays and tortures anyone who speaks against the regime? At the end of the day, you cannot have a good deal with bad people, its a contradiction in terms.

About the Author
Gina Waldman is the co-founder and current President of JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. She has had a long career in political activism in California. She is the former Director of the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jewry.