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Friday, March 16, 2012

Iran's Jews to be held hostage?

Here in Israel, there are thousands of Jews of Iranian extraction (including the man across the hall from me). Many of these Jews still have relatives remaining in Iran. They worry what will happen to those relatives in the event that Israel attacks Iran's nuclear weapons facilities.

This is not an idle worry. Many people are old enough to remember (first hand) the attacks on the Jewish community in Iran when Khomeni came to power (many fled), as well as the attacks on Jews in neighboring countries (Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Lebanon, among others), which resulted in most Jews fleeing those countries between 1948-73.
Iran's government is "unstable and unpredictable. If there is a war, you can't tell what the response to the community will be," said Kamal Penhasi, who runs Israel's only Persian newspaper, Shahyad, and its companion website.

The level of worry among Jews in Iran themselves is harder to measure. At a tomb in southern Iran said to be the grave of the biblical prophet Daniel a popular pilgrimage site for Iranian Jews those visiting on a recent day were reluctant to talk about politics or the rising tensions between Iran and Israel, preferring to talk about their visit.

"I prayed for peace in the world. I asked for health and blessing for all people, I prayed for all," said Erieh Dina, after she recited prayers in Hebrew next to her husband in front of the grave.

The rising crisis illustrates the uneasy situation of Iran's Jews, the largest community in the Middle East outside of Israel and Turkey. They are believed to number around 25,000, after two major waves of emigration following Israel's founding in 1948 and the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Before the revolution they numbered around 100,000.

Many in the community, centered in Tehran and the southern city of Shiraz, are affluent merchants. Publicly, they are supportive of a system that offers them protected minority status though not equal access to certain government and military jobs and assures them a seat in the Iranian parliament.

"No matter who dares to attack our country, we will stand against the threats like other Iranian people," the current Jewish lawmaker in the Iranian parliament, Siamak Merehsedq, told The Associated Press in Tehran. "The Iranian Jewish community will stand by their compatriots under any circumstance, forever."

In general, the community tries to lie low. Tensions between Iran and Israel have been high for years, and the leadership of hard-line Muslim clerics has not tried to retaliate against Iranian Jews, in part because it likes to tout their presence as proof of the government's tolerance. The biggest exception to that was the trial in 2000 of 13 Iranian Jews on charges of spying for Israel, which raised heavy international criticism.
Read the whole thing. I think we should trade Roger Cohen for the safety of Iranian Jewry. I'm sure the Mullahs would consider him one of them, and would be happy to have him.

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At 12:03 AM, Blogger Captain.H said...

Is there a label akin to RINOs for hard-core liberals, brainwashed Democrat Jews, JINOs?


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