Karmel Melamed
Iranian American Journalist and Commentator

Iran’s Jewish Leaders; Unbelievable Propaganda Puppets for the Iranian regime

Toward the later years of World War II, the Nazi propaganda ministry created a propaganda film focused around the infamous Theresienstadt concentration camp that had been given an appearance of a “country club” for the Jews. The film was designed to give the illusion to the outside world that the Nazis were treating the Jews well and the film even had the camp’s Jewish leaders praising the Nazis from a scripted dialogue.  Today the Iranian regime’s propaganda machine has carried on this shameful Nazi tradition and again marched forward different leaders of the Jewish community in Iran to “sing the praises” of the regime before the Western news media. Nowadays the regime’s Jewish mouthpiece is Dr. Ciamak Moreh Sedgh, the only Jewish member of the Iranian parliament who always claims that the Jews are living in “total freedom and face no danger while living in Iran”. Last month with Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani visiting New York for his appearance before the United Nations, Moreh Sedgh was also brought along with the Iranian delegation to “praise the Iranian regime for their benevolence to the Jews” and at the same time condemn Israel before Western news media outlets. Sadly the news media and average Americans are being dooped by buying into Iran’s propaganda messages that Jews are supposedly living under the “benevolent” protection and freedom of Iran’s totalitarian Islamic regime. The truth of the matter is that the Iranian regime and its secret police of thugs have a tight grip on the activities of the Jewish community in Iran. If the Jews step out of line, they face serious dangers.

As an Iranian-American journalist, I have been following the Iranian regime’s shameful use of the Jews in Iran to advance their own public image for more than a decade. The Iranian regime is always quick to pull out their token Jewish member of Iran’s Parliament to show that Iran’s Jews have “fair representation” in the government. Yet what the mainstream media does not realize are that comments made by any Jewish leaders in Iran or by Jews in Iran to the Western media lack credibility since these Jews have been hand-picked by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry to parrot what the regime tells them to say. Moreover whenever any journalist goes to Iran to interview the Jews, they are handed over to hand-picked Jews who have been given a script to read from. Again if these Jewish leaders do not repeat what their master radical Islamic puppeteers tell them to say, then they will face dire consequences and the Jewish community in Iran may also potentially face similar dangers. So it cannot be a surprise that these Jewish leaders say and do whatever the regime’s Intelligence Ministry directs them to say and do. What is even more outrageous about Iran’s propaganda machine is that the regime does not grant visas to journalists it deems unsympathetic to their regime. So the Iranian officials have had pretty much free reign in spewing their one-sided message regarding Iranian Jews that is in no way objective. This is by far not fair and balanced journalism! If the Jews and religious minorities in Iran live in such supposed “freedom” in Iran, then why does the Iranian Constitution clearly indicate that all non-Muslims have inferior status to Muslims? Why do Iran’s laws require that all non-Muslims be humiliated and confined to prevent them from gaining any advantage over Muslims?

At the same time the Iranian regime, also loves to parade Jews in front of the international news cameras to attack Israel in any way possible because they know these news outlets will carry stories about Jews “condemning Israel”. The Jewish member of the Iranian parliament in the past and present have always been spouting out “anti-Israel” statements to the international news media and on Iranian broadcast news to keep the Iranian regime’s dictatorship happy. Such was the case in 2009 during “Operation Cast Lead” when Israeli forces invaded Hamas-controlled Gaza to destroy terrorist cells attacking Israel. During that operation, the Jewish community of Tehran was forced to march in the streets and condemn Israel for defending itself and Moreh Sedgh condemned Israel for “crimes against the Palestinian people” before the Iranian parliament.

Anyone in their right mind who actually believes that the Jews of Iran hate Israel is a fool living in a fairytale land of make-believe! Jews along with other religious minorities in Iran live in constant fear for their lives because the Iranian government by law treats them as second class citizens who have fewer rights than the Muslim majority and can be immediately punished for a whole host of “crimes” the regime can conjure up. The only reason Jews in Iran even participated in the sham protests against Israel are because members of Iran’s secret police threaten their lives if they do not do what these radical Islamic thugs dictate to them! The Jews of Iran since the Babylonian exile have always had a great love of the land of Israel and a tremendous sense of Zionism. While this feeling cannot be shown by Jews living in Iran today, it is a reality because Iranian Jews living in Israel, Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere in the free world still display a great love of Israel by giving to philanthropic causes in Israel and traveling there frequently. There are also historical records showing Zionist organizations were established in Iran as early as the 1920’s among Jews in the country longing to return to their ancient homeland. Likewise after the establishment of Israel in 1948, thousands of Jews left their homes in Iran and established new roots in Israel. Still more Jews immigrated to Israel after the 1979 Iranian revolution and live there today.

Sadly the Iranian regime has gone a step further and used the country’s Jewish leadership to advance the regime’s efforts to remove U.S. and international sanctions on Iran. Lastly month Homayoun Sameyah Najaf Abady, a leader of the Jewish community in Iran appeared before BBC news denying that Jews in Iran live in a state of fear and also called on U.S. President Obama to normalize relations with the Iranian regime. Now if that’s not the Iranian regime’s manipulation of the Jews for propaganda purposes, then I really don’t know what is! Likewise Moreh Sedgh during his public relations tour with Rouhani last month shamefully appeared on a news program with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and proclaimed everything was “fine for the Jews of Iran who enjoyed the same freedoms and equalities as Muslims”. Unfortunately, Zakaria who is in no way an objective journalist, miserably failed to ask Moreh Sedgh why Jews in Iran have a second class citizenship status under Iran’s constitution? Or why the Iranian regime for the last 34 years forces Jews to keep their Jewish day schools open on the Sabbath? Or why Jews are being randomly murdered in certain cities in Iran today? Instead Zakaria allowed Moreh Sedgh to spew the one-side propaganda he was told to repeat by the Iranian regime’s leadership.

As a journalist who exclusively covers Iranian Jewry and has close ties to the community, I am personally baffled at how any members of the media in the U.S. and Europe can make any assertions that life is great for Jews in Iran. On a regular basis, I am reminded by countless Iranian American Jewish leaders to “watch” what I might be writing about the Iranian regime for fear that what I may report on may have negative repercussions on the Jews of Iran. So my question is why on earth are Iranian American Jews so concerned about my words and the safety of their brethren in Iran if everything is supposedly so fine and dandy for Jews in Iran? If Jews are supposedly free to practice their religion in Iran without restrictions, then why have the Iranian regime’s leaders during the last 34 years forced Jews to keep their Jewish day schools open on the Sabbath which is holy to the Jewish people? Why do Iranian authorities repeatedly refuse the Jewish community’s requests to close their Jewish schools during the Sabbath in Iran? Also, why have nearly 100,000 Jews fled Iran since 1979 if life is supposedly so fantastic and free for Jews in Iran? Why do hundreds of Jews quietly continue to leave Iran every year and emigrate to Israel or the U.S. if life is so fantastic for them in Iran? If the Iranian regime “loves the Jews and grants them equality” then why have more than a dozen Jews been randomly executed by the regime on trumped up charges of spying for Israel and the U.S. during the last 34 years? Why were 12 Jews between 1994 and 1996, that were trying to flee Iran via Pakistan arrested by the Iranian secret police and have not been heard from since if life is great for Jews in Iran? Likewise, if things are so happy and rosy for the Jews of Iran, then was Toobah Nehdaran, a 57-year-old married Jewish woman brutally murdered and had her body mutilated by radical Islamic thugs in the Iranian city of Isfahan in November 2012? Why have Nehdaran’s killers not been brought to justice yet by the Iranian authorities? All of these clear facts prove that Rouhani and all the other Islamic clerics who control the Iranian regime do not give a damn about the Jews of Iran and the garbage spewed by Iran’s Jewish leadership that Jews live in supposed full freedom and peace, cannot be believed!

Those of us who live in the free world cannot allow the Iranian regime to win the public relations war that they wage to portray themselves as lovers of the Jews or granters of wide freedoms and equality to non-Muslims living in Iran. We must call out the Iranian regime’s propaganda and expose the truth about their brutality not only to Jews living in Iran but towards Baha’is, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sunni Muslims, Kurds, LGBT, women, labor movement leaders, journalists and others in Iran who have been randomly imprisoned, tortured and executed by the Iranian regime’s leadership for no reason at all. Sadly the words coming out of the mouths of Iran’s Jewish leadership carry zero credibility and must not only be ignored by western news media outlets but ignored by all freedom loving individuals worldwide.

About the Author
Karmel Melamed is an award-winning internationally published Iranian American journalist based in Southern California; He is a member of the Speakers Bureau of JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa