Karmel Melamed
Iranian American Journalist and Commentator

Shame on Merkel for Denying Iranian regime’s anti-Semitism

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Earlier this month German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government declared that the Iranian regime was anti-Israel, but was not anti-Semitic in its calls for Israel’s destruction. The absurdity of this statement by the German government has shocked many Jews worldwide, but is perhaps most insulting to my Iranian Jewish community who has firsthand experience of the vile anti-Semitism of this radical Islamic regime in Iran during the last 40 years. The vast majority of us Iranian Jews know all too well that this regime in Tehran not only has a deep rooted hatred for Jews, but has advanced an on-going campaign of terror against Iran’s Jews, promoted Holocaust denial, advanced state-sponsored discrimination against Jews as well as other religious minorities, and has also carried out random executions and confiscations of Jewish assets in Iran since coming to power in 1979. Shame on the German and other European governments for turning a blind eye to the Iranian regime’s deep rooted anti-Semitism in order to advance their own economic interests. After eight decades since the Holocaust, we realize that nothing has changed in Europe and its leaders will look the other way when it comes to Jew-hatred.

The list of anti-Semitic actions and laws carried out by Iran’s evil radical regime are too voluminous to list, but perhaps the regime’s first action against Iran’s Jews came in May 1979 when they executed Iran’s Jewish leader, Habib Elghanian for no reason. After a sham 20-minute trial, Elghanian was executed on false charges of spying for America and Israel. His execution by the new Khomeini regime in Iran was designed to send a clear message to the country’s Jews: “you are no longer welcomed to live freely in Iran”. And indeed, Elghanian’s execution caused a massive wave of Jews to flee Iran and either leave their assets behind or sell them at bargain low prices. The Islamic regime in Iran did not stop with the execution of Elghanian, from 1979 to 1999 it has formally executed 20 Jews, arrested and tortured thousands more and confiscated billions of dollars in Jewish properties, businesses and assets during the last 40 years. Moreover, Iran’s once 80,000 strong Jewish population has fled the country during these four decades to the point where only roughly 5,000 to 8,000 Jews still remain in Iran. The following is just a brief list of the anti-Semitic statements by the Iranian regime’s leadership or anti-Semitic acts carried out in Iran which were never stopped or investigated by the regime during the last 20 years:

  • Between 1994 and 1997, 12 Jews that were trying to flee Iran via Pakistan were arrested by the Iranian secret police and have not been heard from since. The 12 were imprisoned and the Iranian regime has refused to discuss their fate.
  • During 1999-2000, 13 Jews from the Iranian city of Shiraz were arrested and falsely charges with spying for Israel. They faced imminent execution by the regime. Ultimately a rigorous international media campaign waged by Iranian Jewish activists in America and American Jewish groups halted the 13 men’s executions. They were spared from death but imprisoned and later released.
  • In December 2005, the Iranian regime’s state-run “Jaam-e Jam TV” program, broadcasted Iranian commentator Ali-Reza Akbari who stated “the Jews murdered non-Jewish children and used their blood for Passover”.
  • In January 2011, the Iranian student Basiji militia, of the Abu-Ali Sina/Avicenna University in the western Iranian province of Hamadan rioted outside the entrance of the Esther and Mordechai tomb and threatened to destroy it if Israel destroyed the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. The Iranian state-run media news reported at that time that Basiji militia had removed the mausoleum’s entrance sign, covered the Star of David at the mausoleum’s entrance with a welded metal cover and demanded the site be placed under the supervision of the local Islamic religious authority.
  • In June 2012, the Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi in a televised speech alleged that the prevalence of drugs and drug-addiction throughout the world was rooted in the Talmud. “The book teaches them how to destroy non-Jews so as to protect an embryo in the womb of a Jewish mother,” he said.
  • In November 2012 Toobah Nehdaran, a 57-year-old married Jewish woman, was strangled, then repeatedly stabbed to death, and her body was mutilated in a ritual manner by thugs who had broken into her home located inside the Jewish ghetto within the Iranian city of Isfahan. Nehdaran’s gruesome murder was never investigated by Iranian authorities and suspects were never arrested in connection with her murder.
  • In 2016 in an online video, the Iranian regime’s cleric Mehdi Taeb, claimed that “the Jews aim to control the world and therefore people are obligated to kill anyone who is not willing to accept this control, particularly Muslims”. He also repeated false conspiracy theories that “the Jews control the global economy, the media and have hatch plots and sow division, strife and wars, especially among Muslims”.
  • In December 2017, two synagogues located in the Iranian city of Shiraz were vandalized by unknown assailants who left a total of five Torah scrolls and numerous prayer books damaged or totally destroyed. Likewise, Tzedakah charity boxes were also stolen from the synagogues. The incident was never investigated by the regime’s authorities and no arrests were made in connection with the crime.
  • On February 28, 2019, three antique Torah scrolls were stolen by unknown thieves from the centuries-old Ezra Yagoub synagogue located inside Tehran’s Jewish ghetto. The crime was never investigated by the regime and no regime state-run media reported on the crime.

With all of these anti-Semitic actions that have been carried out by the Iranian regime or its thugs as well as the anti-Semitic statements from the regime’s leaders, perhaps the most outrageously anti-Semitic actions by the Iranian regime has been their full support for vile Holocaust denial. In December 2006, the Iranian regime proudly hosted a Holocaust denial conference attended by many American and European anti-Semites. In 2015 and 2016, the Iranian regime’s “Sarcheshmeh Cultural Institute” organized the country’s official Holocaust Cartoon competition in Tehran that offer up to $50,000 to cartoonist who featured the most “interesting Holocaust denial cartoon”. Another backer of this Holocaust cartoon competition was the “Owj Media and Arts Organization” that is directly affiliated with the regime’s Revolutionary Guards.

But the anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial garbage spewed by the Iranian regime is nothing new for the Iranian regime. This disgusting behavior has a long and proud tradition dating back to the inception of the Islamic republic in Iran. The regime has always maintained warm relations with notorious anti-Semites, including former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and other American neo-Nazi groups who frequently appear on the regime’s state-run English language news program “Press TV” to spew their messages of Jew hatred. Furthermore, the Iranian regime has a long history of ties to European neo-Nazis groups and Holocaust deniers. For example, the Iranian regime proudly announced many years ago that it paid for the legal defense in France of French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, who was convicted and fined $80,000 in 1998 in France for denying the Holocaust. Garaudy was subsequently welcomed in Tehran as a hero, where he met with the Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamenei. In 2012, Khamenei publicly grieved the death of Garaudy in a personal Twitter message. In January 2016, for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Khamenei released an official Holocaust denial video. Additionally, Iranian state-run media outlets have also frequently cited the writings of the neo-Nazi American leader William Pierce. In October 2014, the Anti-Defamation League reported that the regime’s annual Holocaust denial conference in Tehran hosted Maria Poumier, a French denier; Claudio Moffa, an Italian denier; and Kevin Barrett, an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.

According to Iranian Jewish activists I have interviewed in Los Angeles, many believe the sources of anti-Semitism in Iran today not only come from Iranian regime “hardliners”, but also other more “moderate” factions in the regime. Long before Ahmadinejad made a name for himself among the anti-Semites, the Iranian regime, under the supposed “moderate” President Mohammad Khatami, had begun funding Holocaust deniers and publishing their materials in Iran and all over the world. During the Green Revolution in Iran from 2009 to 2010, several “moderate” leaders in Iran staged public media campaigns of attacking the Islamic hardliners in Iran, not for their atrocities against the Iranian population or their Islamist fanaticism, but for allegedly being of Jewish descent! To accuse someone of being Jewish in Iran is equivalent to calling someone a child molester or pedophile in the U.S.

Yet even worse, the regime’s anti-Semitism is not only limited to within Iran, but the Iranian ayatollahs have also tried to export it to the U.S. in recent years. I reported myself in March 2015 that Los Angeles based Iranian-Jewish activists launched a grass-roots campaign to boycott performances by Akbar Abdi, a notorious Iranian-Muslim anti-Semitic comedian who had received a visa from the U.S. State Department and planned to perform at various venues in the U.S., including performing Farsi-language shows in Southern California. A video on YouTube from 2013 shows Abdi being given a film award by Ahmadinejad and using derogatory terms to describe Jews. The campaign against Abdi ultimately resulted in the cancellation of his show in Los Angeles, as well as other shows in Southern California. Likewise in December 2017, I personally reported on the proud anti-Semitic Iranian-Muslim singer Mohsen Yeganeh who performed a musical concert in downtown L.A.’s Microsoft Theatre but was met with hundreds of Iranian Jewish protestors opposed to his performance and anti-Jewish songs.

Again and again the list of anti-Semitism from the Iranian regime which is not related to Israel is quite long and it is utterly ridiculous for the current German government to deny it! Shame on Merkel and shame on members of her government who continue to maintain diplomatic and economic relations with the Iranian regime that so proudly denies the Holocaust! German laws prohibit the denial of the Holocaust, but German government officials are hypocrites for failing to apply that same law and standard when it comes to the Iranian regime’s officials denying the Holocaust. The failure of Merkel and her officials to deny the Iranian regime’s open and proud anti-Semitism is either because of their greater desire for economic trade with the regime or because of a sinister tradition of anti-Semitism in Germany. The German nation and people should be among the first and most vocal critics of the Iranian regime’s anti-Semitism, instead of being their greatest apologists! For anyone, including the Germany government to ignore or deny the Iranian regime’s heinous anti-Semitic record and disgusting Holocaust denial, it is horrendous and must be fully condemned.

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