Posted by Karmel Melamed
It simply baffles my mind how officials in Iran’s radical fundamentalist Islamic government still continue to put out totally bogus press releases, news reports and information about Jews and other religious minorities of Iranian decent. The regime’s claims and statements about Jews, Christians and Bahais supporting their rule are so outrageous that they are often laughable! Sadly many western news media outlets pick up and spread this one sided propaganda that is not based on facts. I’d like to take this opportunity to expose the latest “B.S.” the Iranian regime is trying to put out there in hopes of improving it’s tarnished image as a terrorist-sponsoring totalitarian dictatorship hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons:
Tehran Times article claiming Iranian-Americans favor friendly relations with Iran’s government!
The Tehran Times is an obvious bias news source as it is a state-run news media outlet in the country’s capital. It recently published this unlovely article that tries to make it sound as if Iranian Americans that are non-Muslim “supposedly support” the regime in Iran by “favoring diplomacy” with that government. It tries to paint a rosey picture about Iranian Americans Jews not opposing the activities of the regime. This article cites some obscure, non-scientific, and liberal survey from U.C. Berkeley and tries to spin the facts that Iranian Americans who are Jewish, Christian, or Bahai somehow favor the U.S. normalizing diplomatic relations with Iran:
“In each religious sub-group—Muslims, Jews, Bahais, Christians, and Zoroastrians—a majority favor negotiations, with support being the strongest among Muslims and Bahais (75 percent and 73 percent respectively). In the Zoroastrian community, support for talks stands at 60 percent; 56 percent in the Christian community, and 51 percent in the Jewish community”.
While it may be true that Jews and other non-Muslim Iranians do not favor military action against Iran’s current regime as such actions may only embolden the clerics’ position in the country. Yet at the same time, from my own personal reporting and interactions with the Iranian Jewish community here in Southern California, by in large they DO NOT favor the U.S. normalizing diplomatic or other relations with Iran! For the post part Jews and other non-Muslim Iranian Americans would rather see the Bush Administration and other future administrations isolate Iran diplomatically and economically. The regime has practically held religious minorities including Jews hostage in Iran, caused thousands of other Iranian Jews to forfeit their billions of dollars in assets and flee the country since the late 1970’s and 1980’s. More importantly, Iranian American Jews for the most part are strong supporters of Israel and would never support new relations with Iran’s regime that repeatedly calls for Israel’s destruction! To think that Iranian American Jews would ever back U.S. diplomatic relations with the current government in Iran today is totally absurd and a complete fantasy.
What shocked me even more about this outrageous Tehran Times article was the fact that the regime claimed that Iranian Americans of the Bahai faith somehow favored friendly relations between the U.S. and Iran’s government through diplomacy! Nothing could be further from the truth considering the fact that people of the Bahai faith have ZERO rights in Iran unlike other religious minorities such as Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. In reality anyone who is found to be of the Bahai faith is typically tortured and then executed as the religion is prohibited from being practiced in Iran. This accurate report outlines the persecutions Bahai’s face regularly in Iran. If you ask any Iranian American Bahai, they will tell you out right that they have no love for Iran’s brutal regime, especially after it’s crimes against the Bahai people since 1979. Considering these real facts, again no Iranian American of the Bahai faith would ever support renewed diplomatic relations with Iran’s current government.
The pure propaganda nature of this Tehran Times article is revealed by the fact that it refers to the regime’s lobbying body in the U.S. called the “National Iranian American Council” or NIAC. Yes, believe it or not the Iranian government has a group that lobbies on it’s behalf in the U.S. Congress and government. Iranian American political analyst Hassan Diaoleslam has for years been exposing NIAC’s activities in helping to normalize relations between the U.S. and Iran’s radical Islamic government. Diaoleslam’s article last year in Frontpage Magazine online about NIAC and it’s front-man Trita Parsi exposes the fact that the organization is being funded by the Iranian government’s oil money and is their voice in America:
“State-sanctioned Iranian newspapers started a campaign to promote Trita Parsi and NIAC. Pro-government publications outside Iran followed suit. The former head of the Iran interest in Washington, Ambassador Faramarze Fathnejad, was thrilled with the efforts of Trita Parsi and NIAC, and underlined “the importance of relation with Iranian organizations in the U.S. and specially pointed to NIAC and his young leader who is a consultant to CNN and has been very successful in his efforts.” The Iran Ambassador even claimed 20,000 strong membership for NIAC (while only 150 is claimed by NIAC itself)!
But token rhetorical support would not alone turn an inexperienced graduate student and a corrupt Washington politician into a lobbying enterprise. Entities with ample financial resources and direct access to Iran’s top leaders had to enter the scene. This is where Siamak Namazi, an important figure of this new lobbying enterprise and a prominent member of the Iranian oil Mafia, enters the scene. Trita Parsi and Namazi worked closely on developing the details of a grand plan to create an Iranian-American “Citizen’s Lobby”. They traveled to Iran together. They organized joint conferences and meetings. In 1999, they co-authored a seminal paper, that provided the roadmap for the organization that later became NIAC”.
If you don’t believe that Parsi and NIAC are backed by Iran’s government, then read my L.A. Jewish Journal article from last year in which NIAC was the only “Iranian American” organization that opposed AB 221. This bill was the California State measure that required divestment of state pension funds from companies doing business with the Iranian government. If NIAC and Parsi are not in bed with the regime in Tehran and supposedly “freedom-loving”, then the hell did they oppose this bill that would pressure the Iranian government economically for supporting international terrorism and seeking nuclear weapons??
Clearly the Tehran Times and it’s report about Iranian American Jews supporting diplomacy with Iran is bogus and is a sad attempt by the regime to get certain American and European politicians to ease their diplomatic and economic pressures on the Iranian regime. This is yet another public relations stunt by the Iranian government to do damage control for the anti-Semitic and war-like rhetoric of it’s president and other leaders over the past three years!
A popular propoganda sign found throughout Iran nowadays:
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February 9, 2008 | 3:11 pm
Posted by Karmel Melamed
It is with great honor and pleasure that I announce the launching of the first podcast on this blog that will literally give new voice to Iranian Jews living in the U.S. The new podcast can be found here:
Since 2000, as a journalist I have had the unique privilege to share the exciting activities of the successful Iranian Jewish community living in Southern California and New York. This journey has been exciting for me because I’ve been able to witness history in the making and record our community’s achievements in this great nation. We have been able to flourish in America after our families were uprooted by radical Islamic elements and forced to flee Iran following the 1979 revolution. It often makes me emotional when I think of how far we’ve come today after our ancestors for 2,500 years were able to endure forced mass conversions, wars, pogroms, diseases, famines, and other calamities in Iran. And yet they still retained their Judaism and passed it onto us today. Never did our ancestors in Iran ever imagine that we would be able to hold our heads up proud in a free country and equally participate in a free society without constantly looking over our shoulders to worry about those seeking to destroy us!
I take the responsibility of accurately reporting on Iranian American Jewry seriously and my hope is that this new podcast will give me yet another venue to so. Through this on going podcast my hope is to educate those who are unfamiliar with our community and bring about Jewish unity in the process. The Iranian Jewish community in the U.S. is still in its infancy compared to other American Jewish groups, but we have plenty to contribute.
This podcast will reveal our community’s pride in our rich history and deliver our message of hope to the rest of the world. I urge you to regularly listen in to our podcast and spread the word about it. Together we can educate one another and help heal the world.
February 7, 2008 | 12:48 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
Election night energy was vibrant on February 5th when more than 250 young Iranian Jewish professionals gathered at the Brentwood residence of the Iranian Jewish Cohanzad family to mingle and watch the 2008 primary election results. Organizers of the event, âThirty Years Afterâ, a newly formed non-profit organization, said their objectives were to engage Iranian Jewish professionals in the political process and social activism. âWe couldnât be happier with the turnout, energy and overall enthusiasm that everyone showed at the event,â said Sam Yebri, the 26-year-old head of Thirty Years After. âAs a community we showed for the first time that our community can unite and become active on key political issuesâ.
Prominent local Jewish leaders speaking to the group included California State Assemblymember Michael Feuer (D- West L.A.), Department of Water and Power General Manager H. David Nahai, and Sam Kermanian, Secretary General of the Iranian American Jewish Federation. All three local leaders urged the younger generation of Iranian Jews to run for political offices and consider careers in the public sector.
This particular gathering of young Iranian Jews to help generate political activity is both historic and heartwarming for many individuals in the community due to the long history of Jews in Iran being shut out of the political process. I find it simply remarkable how 80 years ago the majority of Iran’s Jews were living in extreme poverty in their secluded ghettos, but now their children and grandchildren are flourishing economically, socially and now politically in a new country that encourages them to take part in democracy! Indeed 30 years after Iranian Jewry have been able to set new roots in America after the Iranian Revolution, this community is finally discovering that they too can make a greater impact in Southern California and the U.S. by voting and getting involved with our government.
February 4, 2008 | 12:49 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
The Iranian Jewish community living in Long Island, New York is primarly concentrated in the area known as Great Neck and is roughly 15,000 strong today. The community in Great Neck is by far wealthy, educated and quite observant of Jewish religious practices. With all of their success, Iranian Jews in New York have kept a fairly low profile over the past three decades as opposed to the largest concentration of Iranian Jews in the U.S. living in Los Angeles. While Iranian Jews living in L.A. have ventured into new areas including local politics and the entertainment field, it’s not often I see or hear of Iranian Jews in New York partaking in similar activities. So it was quite a surprise for me to read about Hooshang Nematzadeh, executive vice president of the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York, publicly speaking at a political event sponsored by the Great Neck Democratic Club and the National Jewish Democratic Council.
Nematzadeh, who is featured as the man on the far left in the above photo, kept his remarks neutral with regards to Iran according to a recent article published by the Great Neck Record newspaper. Nematzadeh, like most Iranian Jewish leaders in the U.S. have typically refrained from publicly criticizing Iran’s regime for fear that their comments may be used by the Iranian government as an excuse to harass the near 20,000 Jews still living in Iran. His comments with regards to the situation in Iran were in line with this policy;
“Said Mr. Nematzadeh, “The United States is the greatest democracy.” And he went on to tell how surveys in Iran show that the majority of Iranians align themselves with the United States, and not with the government in control in Iran today. “After 9/11 the people in Iran were in solidarity with the United States,” he said. Speaking of the regime in control of Iran today, Mr. Nematzadeh stated that “This regime is not representative of the people.”
For the most part Nematzadeh and other Iranian Jewish leaders in New York follow the lead of their brethren in Los Angeles when it comes to political matters. Often times both Iranian Jewish community consult one another and collaborate on supporting many of the same issues—especially when it comes to Israel. Interestingly enough Iranian Jewry in the U.S. have outreached to politicians on both sides of the aisle and often supported Democratic candidates by following the same trends as their American Jewish brethren. While an Iranian Jew is currently Mayor of Beverly Hills and head of the L.A. Department of Water and Power, it still remains to be seen if any Iranian Jewish New Yorkers will serve in their local or state governments.