Karmel Melamed
Iranian American Journalist and Commentator

Zarif stop lying, the Islamic Iranian Regime did not save Jews!

This past March, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif went on NBC news and said that “Iran saved the Jews three times in its history” in his typical efforts to do public relations damage control for the Iranian regime. During his interview with NBC journalist Anne Curry, Zarif shamefully tried to spin history in favor of the radical and brutal Islamic regime in Iran by trying to take credit for the Jews being saved during the story of Purim thousands of years, for the ancient Persian king Cyrus who freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity and for Abdol Hussein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat based in Nazi-occupied France who saved Jews during World War II.

From the perspective of Iranian American journalists like myself who are all too familiar with the current Iranian regime, I thought Zarif’s comments were nothing short of hilarious! The Iranian regime since 1979 has done everything in their power to distance themselves from the ancient Zoroastrian Persian Empire and also from the activities of the Pahlavi kings during the 20th century. So it is downright funny to see Zarif rushing to take credit for the past good deeds of two dynasties from Iran’s past that the regime totally abhors! Yet what is truly pathetic about Zarif’s recent comments is that he totally ignores the heinous record of executions, assassinations, imprisonment and persecution of Jews carried out since 1979 by the same radical Islamic regime in Iran which he proudly services under. What Curry and most Western journalists typically fail to ask and press Zarif on are the specific questions of human rights violations and irrefutable facts of the current Iranian regime’s horrible history when it comes to the Jews of Iran during the last 36 years.

Obviously Zarif cannot admit that the Islamic regime in Iran has mistreated and executed thousands of religious minorities — among them Jews — during its tenure, so the only public relations spin he can offer is to attempt to have the Iranian regime today take credit for the past noble figures in Iranian history that have shown Jews benevolence. Iranian Jews living in the U.S. today who escaped the clutches of the brutal ayatollahs rule in Iran are all too well familiar with the current Iranian regime’s record towards them.

Since the founding of the current radical Islamic regime in Iran, the regime’s leaders and thugs have done everything in power to discriminate, humiliate, persecute and execute the Jews of Iran. The Iranian regime today has done all of these things in order expropriate Jews properties and businesses or to for force a panic migration of Jews and other religious minorities out of the country. Since 1979 Jews have periodically been execute or brutally assassinated in Iran in order to keep Iran’s Jewish community in line or to frighten the Jews into fleeing the country and leaving behind millions in assets. During the last near four decades, Jews in Iran have typically been arrested on trumped up charges of spying of Israel or the United States, given a brief sham trial and then executed. Sometimes many of these Jews were never even given trials but summarily executed or brutally murdered by the regime’s strongmen and only afterwards these Jews were accused by the regime of some criminal activity or violation of moral laws.

For Zarif and other Iranian regime authorities who continue to deny their role in executing and murdering Jews, the following is a brief list of some of the innocent Jews executed or murdered by the Iranian regime. This list was put together by Iranian Jewish activist Frank Nikbakht, who heads the Los Angeles-based Committee for Minority Rights in Iran:

  • Habib Elghanian; head of the Jewish community in Iran and industrialist falsely charged with spying for Israel and the U.S.; executed by firing squad in May 1979.
  • Gorgi Lavi; affluent Jewish businessman imprisoned and executed in 1979.
  • Simon Farzami; Jewish newspaper editor executed in 1980.
  • Albert Danielpour; affluent Iranian Jewish industrialist in the Iranian city of Hamadan who was imprisoned, tortured and executed in June 1980.
  • Ebrahim Berookhim; affluent Jewish hotel owner in Tehran imprisoned, tortured and executed in August 1980.
  • Youssef Yadegar; affluent Jewish hotel owner in Tehran executed in 1980.
  • Farajollah Hakimi; Jewish businessman in Tehran executed in 1980.
  • Isaac Lahijani, affluent Jewish architect and real estate developer in Tehran; kidnapped, held for ransom by Iranian regime thugs and later killed in Spring 1980. Iranian regime in 2007 finally accepted guilt for his killing and paid compensation to his family.
  • Mansour Ghedooshim; affluent Jewish businessman in Iranian city of Isfahan executed in September 1981.
  • Manoucher Rakhshani; Jew imprisoned for several days and suspiciously died within two days of his release in 1985.
  • Farzin Yazdanpour; Jew assassinated while driving on Shiraz-Isfahan highway by Iranian Revolutionary Guard members; 1987.
  • Hedayatollah Zendedel; Jewish businessman and civil engineer imprisoned for years in Tehran and then executed in 1998.
  • Rouhollah Kadkhodazadeh; Jewish activist who helped smuggle Jews out of Iran; imprisoned and executed in 1998.
  • Hamid Lameh; Jewish businessman suspiciously found hanging from his neck inside his Tehran store with no signs of suicide in 1998.
  • Feziollah Mekhoubad; 78-year-old Jewish cantor of Youssefabad Synagogue in Tehran who was imprisoned, torture and executed in 1999.
  • Sepehr Ebneyamin; Jew imprisoned in Tehran and suspiciously died in custody in November 1999.
  • Nasser Davoodpour; Jew in Tehran assassinated by Iranian Revolutionary Guard in 1999.
  • Ebrahim Kohan; Jew executed in his Tehran home by Iranian Revolutionary Guard in 2000.
  • Toobah Nehdaran; 57-year-old Jewish woman brutally murdered and her body was dismembered by radical Islamic thugs inside her home in the Jewish ghetto within in the Iranian city of Isfahan in December 2012.

Shame on Zarif and other Iranian regime officials for failing to note these execution and random killings of Jews since 1979 in Iran! Shame on Anne Curry and other Western media personalities for not bringing up during their interviews with Zarif the brutal track record of the Iranian regime against Jews since 1979! Shame on Zarif for trying to paint a rosy picture of the Iranian regime’s horrible human rights record of Jews and other religious minorities in Iran!

Aside from the above incidents of executions, murders, killings or odd deaths of Jews in Iran by the Iranian regime, 12 Jews trying to flee Iran through Pakistan from 1994 to 1997 were arrested by the Iranian regime and have never been heard from. The Iranian regime has not accepted responsibility for their disappearance and the Israeli government last year claimed they were killed by the regime. Yet the true fate of these missing Jews has never been discovered. Likewise, in 2000, 13 Jews from the Iranian city of Shiraz were arrested and faced imminent execution by the Iranian regime on trumped up charges of spying for Israel and the U.S. Yet as a result of significant pressure from Jews in the U.S. and European human rights groups, the Iranian regime did not execute the 13 Jews and they were later released. Nevertheless there are hundreds of other incidents of executions, murders, imprisonments and tortures of Jews not reported in the Iranian media and not brought up by countless Iranian Jewish family members for fear that may face retaliation by the Iranian regime for speaking out.

Most importantly, the western journalists who have interviewed Zarif repeatedly forget to ask him that if things are so “fine and dandy” for the Jews living in Iran today and Jews have been treated so well in Iran since 1979, then why have close to 70,000 Jews fled or left Iran since 1979? Why has the Jewish population that has been living in Iran since 586 B.C. fled that country during the last 36 years if the Iranian regime has supposedly been benevolent to them?

Zarif is a fool if he and other Iranian regime officials think they can pull the wool over the eyes of the West by claiming that their regime has been “great” to the Jews. The truth of the matter is that the current Iranian regime has turned upside down the lives of Iran’s Jews and other religious minorities. Just ask the thousands of Iranian Jews living in Los Angeles and New York today about the conditions they faced in Iran after the 1979 revolution. They will tell you a very different story than what Zarif attempts to spin in the media about the regime’s treatment of Jews. The radical Islamic Republic of Iran’s authorities and armed thugs for decades have confiscated millions of dollars of Jewish properties or forced Jews to leave behind their properties and businesses in Iran. Since 1979 the Iranian regime has imprisoned, tortured or executed countless Jews without any reason other than their religion. Jews in Iran since 1979 have continually faced discrimination, humiliation and persecution because of their faith at the hands for the ayatollahs running Iran. All of these horrible calamities my community of Iran’s Jews have endured and these are things we do not want to see reoccur in America or to the rest of the free world. Americans and American Jews need to open their eyes and question the validity of the garbage Zarif and other Iranian regime officials spew about the regime’s “love” for the Jews of Iran because the real facts of this regime’s treatment of Jews has been nothing short of horrific for nearly four decades.

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