Karmel Melamed
Iranian American Journalist and Commentator

Jewish war monument is yet more shameful propaganda from the Iranian regime

Nearly every time the Iranian regime’s image takes a big hit in the Western media with their poor human rights record, their shameful denials of the Holocaust, or sick calls to destroy Israel, the regime’s spinsters immediately march out the country’s Jews in their state-run media outlets to spew their ridiculous propaganda. The Iranian regime’s motive is always the same, put on a sham event or rally with Iran’s Jews to supposedly show the world that the ayatollahs and Iranian clerics “love the Jews” of Iran in an effort to fix their tarnished image in the Western media.

For the last decade I have witnessed some of the most asinine and outrageous claims made by the Iranian regime of their supposed “love for the Jews”. Anyone with a half a brain realizes that their claims of “love for the Jews” are pure propaganda and the regime’s fraudulent claims must be exposed to the rest of the free world. The regime’s latest display of a war monument in Iran for Jewish soldiers who fought in the Iran-Iraq war is a prime example of the ayatollahs trying to project themselves as “friendly to the Jews” through their media outlets. Yet a closer look at the facts involving this Jewish war monument story exposes a painful reality that the Iranian regime does not give a damn about Jews and is only shamefully using the Jews for their own public relations efforts.

Many of us Iranian Jews and Iranian religious minorities living outside of Iran are more familiar with the inner workings of the Iranian regime and we know very clearly that this latest Jewish monument event in Iran was carefully orchestrated by Ali Younesi, the Iranian regime’s current advisor for minority affairs to Iran’s current president Hassan Rouhani. Younesi is a long-time member of the regime involved with the 1979 revolution and a past Minister of Intelligence under Iran’s former President Mohammad Khatami.

With this Jewish monument, Younesi wants to make it appear for the Western Media that the current Iranian regime wishes to “restore certain rights” to the country’s religious minorities. The regime has received a lot of heat in recent years from the European Union, United Nations and Western Media for having one of the highest rates of executions in the world and mistreating religious minorities including Jews, Christians and Baha’is living in Iran. Now Younesi and the propaganda spinsters for the regime are trying to do damage control for the regime’s tainted image.

Those of us who know the true evil nature of the Iranian regime can see right through this bogus propaganda stunt because we know the real facts and motives of this evil regime. For one thing, Iran’s President Rouhani has expressly stated on many occasions that the religious minorities in Iran will have rights granted to them within the framework of the Islamic regime’s constitution. If we examine the current Iranian regime’s constitution which has not been changed since 1979, Jews are relegated to third class citizens with very limited rights! Moreover Rouhani has stated many times that he wants Jews and other religious minorities in Iran to have civil rights within the framework of Shiite Shariah laws. If such is the case, then Shiite Shariah laws are more punitive and more restrictive in civil rights granted to Jews and other religious minorities than the current Iranian constitution! This is because non-Muslims are viewed as temporary residents in an Islamic land and considered Dhimmis. Interestingly, Rouhani’s comments about Jews and religious minorities were denounced by a number of the Iranian regime’s influential clerics who in recent days said the major goal of the Iranian 1979 revolution was to always make religious minorities inferior to Muslims and to suppress minorities so they will “realize their evil ways and convert to Islam!”

What makes this Iranian Jewish monument story a clear example of pure garbage and shameful propaganda from the Iranian regime are the historically inaccurate claims in the story and incorrect portrayal of the Jewish role in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. As an Iranian Jewish journalist who has interviewed countless Jews who lived in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war and fled the country during that war, I have been told a totally different story than which the Iranian regime claims about the Jewish role in their military.

I have been told by countless Iranian Jews that; Jews for the most part did not serve in large numbers in the Iranian military and those Jews who did serve were forced to do so by the regime’s authorities or else they would face long imprisonments. Likewise, thousands of Jewish young men and especially younger Jewish boys fled Iran illegally during the Iran-Iraq war in order to avoid being forced to run through the mine fields as other Iranian boys were rounded up and forced to do so during that war by the Iranian regime. According to Iranian Jewish leaders I have interviewed in Los Angeles and New York, less than a dozen Jews were killed in the Iran-Iraq war and those who served or died in the war were in non-combat roles since Jews were considered “najes” or ritually impure to serve alongside Iranian Muslims soldiers. Likewise I have interviewed some Iranian Jews who said they avoided conscription in the military during the Iran-Iraq war by bribing the regime’s officials and those Jews who could not afford to pay the bribes were forced to serve in the military by the regime.

These real facts just prove that Jews did not have a substantial role in the Iran-Iraq war and that this “war monument” put up by the Iranian regime to “honor Jews” who fought in that war is just plain bogus! This monument is nothing but a fraud and the ceremony surrounding it was yet another sick and twisted effort by the Iranian regime to repair their damaged international image of intolerance towards Jews and other religious minorities.

What is most disturbing about the Iranian Jewish monument story is the statements made by Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard, one of the regime’s stooges who at the event for the monument claimed the Jews of Iran showed “obedience to the Iranian regime’s Ayatollah Khomeini” during the Iran-Iraq war. The reason the Jews of Iran put up with the murderous Khomeini, was because if they did not show “obedience” they would be imprisoned or executed! The Jews who remained in Iran during the war had no other choice but to succumb and accept their third-class status in Iran or face dire circumstances. Sadly Aboutorabi-Fard also used the monument event to trash talk Israel which only reinforces the reality that the Iranian regime does not care about Jews, but rather uses every opportunity to spew hate and intolerance for non-Muslims.

As a journalist who exclusively covers the Iranian Jewish community I am reminded on a daily basis of the inequalities Jews face in Iran and that their safety is at risk. Why some 10,000 Jews still remain in Iran is a question that baffles many of us – some stay due to financial reasons, some due to family ties, and some due to a lack of education. But we cannot deny the very real and sad reality that the Iranian regime has no love for the Jews but instead uses them as mere public relations pawns.

I frequently ask those who believe the claims that the Jews of Iran are being treated well nowadays a number of very simple questions. For instance, if Jews are supposedly free to practice their religion in Iran without restrictions, then why have the Iranian regime’s leaders during the last 35 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? Why are Jewish schools and teachers strictly prohibited by the Iranian regime to teach Jewish children the Hebrew language, except to learn some prayers? 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 35 years? Likewise, if things are so fine and dandy 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 never been brought to justice by the Iranian authorities? These questions only reinforce the sad truth that the Islamic clerics who control the Iranian regime do not give a damn about the Jews of Iran.

As Jews and non-Jews who love freedom and cherish tolerant co-existence in the world, we must not permit 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. Do not be fooled America or Europe; the Iranian regime does not give a damn about Iran’s Jews or the other religious minorities living in Iran today.

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