Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Israel's Jewish problem in Tehran

Israel would have us believe that Iran is evil and is about to launch nukes in 45 minutes (sic) and they eat babies and they want nothing more than to wipe Israel off the map. Along with the rest of us being anti-Semites for even suggesting that Israel is a little naughty. The only problem is that most of what comes out of Tel Aviv could only be described as horse-shit! They've been saying for 10 years that Iran is 1 year away from having the bomb. What they don't want you to know is that there are Jews who live happily in Iran, so much so that they can't even be paid to leave. How many Iranians live happily in Israel? More to the point how long before some bomb goes off in Iran that kills a load of Jews and the rest feel they have to emigrate to Israel. It's been done before!

Iran is the new Nazi Germany and its President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is the new Hitler. Or so Israeli officials have been declaring for months as they and their American allies try to persuade the doubters in Washington that an attack on Tehran is essential. And if the latest media reports are to be trusted, it looks like they may again be winning the battle for hearts and minds: Vice President Dick Cheney is said to be diverting the White House back on track to launch a military strike.



Earlier this year Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's opposition leader and the man who appears to be styling himself scaremonger-in-chief, told us: "It's 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs." Of Ahmadinejad, he said: "He is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state."”



A few weeks ago, as Israel's military intelligence claimed -- as it has been doing regularly since the early 1990s -- that Iran is only a year or so away from the "point of no return" on developing a nuclear warhead. Netanyahu was at it again. "Iran could be the first undeterrable nuclear power," he warned, adding: "This is a Jewish problem like Hitler was a Jewish problem. The future of the Jewish people depends on the future of Israel."”


But Netanyahu has been far from alone in making extravagant claims about a looming genocide from Iran. Israel's new president, Shimon peres, has compared an Iranian nuclear bomb to a "flying concentration camp". And the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, told a German newspaper last year: "[Ahmadinejad] speaks as Hitler did in his time of the extermination of the entire Jewish nation."”



There is an interesting problem with selling Iran as "Nazi Germany". If Ahmadinejad really is Hitler, ready to commit genocide against Israel’s Jews as soon as he can get his hands on a nuclear weapon, why are some 25,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran and more than reluctant to leave despite repeated enticements from Israel and American Jews?



What is the basis for Israel's dire forecasts -- the ideological scaffolding being erected, presumably, to justify an attack on Iran? Helpfully, as George Bush defended his Iraq policies last month, he reminded us yet again of the menace Iran supposedly poses: it is "threatening to wipe Israel off the map".



This myth has been endlessly recycled since a translating error was made of a speech Ahmadinejad delivered nearly two years ago. Farsi experts have verified that the Iranian president, far from threatening to destroy Israel, was quoting from an earlier speech by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in which he reassured supporters of the Palestinians that "the Zionist regime in Jerusalem would vanish from the page of time".



He was not threatening to exterminate Jews or even Israel. He was comparing Israel's occupation of the Palestinians with other illegitimate systems of rule whose time had passed, including the Shahs who once ruled Iran, apartheid South Africa and the Soviet empire. Nonetheless, this erroneous translation has survived and prospered because Israel and her supporters have exploited it for their own crude propaganda purposes.



In the meantime, the 25,000-strong Iranian Jewish community is the largest in the Middle East outside Israel and traces its roots back 3,000 years. As one of several non-Muslim minorities in Iran, Jews there suffer discrimination, but they are certainly no worse off than the one million Palestinian citizens of Israel -- and far better off than Palestinians under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.



Iranian Jews have little influence on decision-making and are not allowed to hold senior posts in the army or bureaucracy. But they enjoy many freedoms. They have an elected representative in parliament, they practice their religion openly in synagogues, their charities are funded by the Jewish diaspora, and they can travel freely, including to Israel. In Tehran there are six kosher butchers and about 30 synagogues. Ahmadinejad's office recently made a donation to a Jewish hospital in Tehran.



As Ciamak Moresadegh, an Iranian Jewish leader, observed: "If you think Judaism and Zionism are one, it is like thinking Islam and the Taliban are the same, and they are not."

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