Posted by Karmel Melamed
Day in and day out, I am simply disgusted to read and hear countless western news media reports of the supposed “reformists” or “moderates” in the Iranian government who will be running in the upcoming June 12th Iranian presidential race. The clear fact that these western media outlets repeatedly overlook is that there are NO REFORMISTS in the Iranian government! Those individuals who claim to be supposed moderates in the current Iranian regime are equally if not worse that the hardliners in that government. To call anyone in the Iranian regime a reformist or moderate is a misnomer as everyone associated with that government has been supporting international radical Islamic terrorism, human rights abuses and the advancement of nuclear weapons technology in Iran.
Perhaps the best example of the ruthlessness of the supposed “reformists” in Iran is the past president, Mohammad Khatami. He has been hailed in the West for years as the “ray of hope” in Iran’s totalitarian radical Islamic theocracy. Yet many Iranians living outside of Iran and who are familiar with Khatami, know very well that under his reign of terror during the 1990s’ more journalists, student opposition groups and human rights activists in Iran were imprisoned, tortured and executed, than under any of the previous Iranian presidents. During Khatami’s reign, Iran’s financial and military support for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah did not stop nor decline— to the contrary, they rose! Khatami and these other Iranian government “reformists” at that time still called for the destruction of Israel and America. Khatami and other supposed “reformist” did relax some strict social Islamic laws on individuals in Iran, but these were merely a façade for the West to believe that somehow these Iranian government officials were not as bad as the other ayatollahs in the regime. For the record, during Khatami’s reign, 10 Jews trying to escape the country illegally through the border with Pakistan were arrested, imprisoned and have not been heard from since. Is imprisoning Jews who are seeking to leave the country for religious freedom signs of a moderate or reformist? I think not!
Today we have the same wanna-be, supposed “reformists” running for the presidency in Iran. The leading “reformist” candidate is Mir Hossien Mousavi, the fifth and last Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989— a bloody era in Iran’s history where thousands of Iranian Muslim citizens, who were opposed to the radical Islamic style of government were routinely torture and executed. Mousavi is also a member of the High Council of Cultural Revolution, a group which over the last 30 years has regularly purged Iran’s academia of all Western and non-Islamic influences through torture and execution in order to bring it in line with their beliefs of radical Shiite Islam. Now does this person in all honesty sound like a “moderate” or a “reformer” who will change Iran’s government? I seriously doubt it.
Another supposed “moderate” running for the presidency in Iran is Mehdi Karroubi. He is an Iranian cleric who has criticized many hardliners in the Iranian government, but at the same time he still supports the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Interestingly, Karroubi calls himself a follower of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the ruthless dictator who gave birth to Iran’s radical Islamic regime 30 years ago! Again, this person also does not sound like some who is “moderate” or will change Iran’s current radical regime.
In the end, the Western news media outlets have it wrong. There are no “reformists” in Iran’s current regime—all the Iranian government officials are evil sponsors of terrorism, human rights abuses and want to advance Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. All of these alleged “reformists” and “moderates” are just as dangerous as their hardliner competitors in the government and the Obama Administration and the U.S. population must not be fooled into believing otherwise! More, importantly, none of these “reformists” candidates have publicly nor privately called for an end to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. This clearly makes them no different than the current insane Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Finally after all is said and done with the Iranian presidential elections this coming June, one must also not forget that whether a “reformist” or “hardliner” is elected in Iran, it will make no difference as to Iran’s foreign policy since the regime is still controlled by the Supreme Leader, Khamenei who has the last say as to what will be done.
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May 13, 2009 | 2:30 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
For those individuals who think L.A. area Iranian Jews do not read the L.A. Jewish Journal newspaper and local Iranian Jews do not have influence in the city—they need only open their eyes last Friday May 8th to see the giant jumbo-tron electronic billboard on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood with Rob Eshman’s (the Journal’s editor-in-chief’s) face appearing in color for all to see. Yes, that jumbo-tron billboard is owned by a local Iranian Jewish businessman (who shall remain anonymous) who is both a big fan of this blog and the Journal!
I spoke with him recently and he mentioned the fact that he was moved by Rob’s opinion piece last week in the Journal about the need for more local Jews to run for public office in the city and state. Likewise Rob’s piece has struck a chord with many local Iranian Jews who realize the true value of having Jewish representation in government after many of them were treated as outsiders while living in Iran for centuries. Today with Paul Koretz being the only Jewish candidate running for a spot on the L.A. City Council and Jack Weiss, the only Jewish candidate running for City Attorney, it seems as if the Jewish community and especially the local Iranian Jewish community need to step and get involved with helping to get both candidates get elected if they want to have any real say in their local government.
So the next time you think local Iranian Jews are “nobodies” think again because you may have your face plastered on an electronic billboard in Hollywood! Kudos to Rob by the way, we journalists sometimes deserve to have our names and faces up in lights because we do the hard work of bringing key issues to the attention of the public and we often get attacked for doing so.
You can hear our podcast’s exclusive interview with Paul Koretz from two months ago; here
May 11, 2009 | 11:03 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
He was known through out Iran at one time as the largest producer of plastic goods, he was a successful importer and industrialist with different manufacturing companies, the wealthiest Jew in Iran and their community’s leader as well as a generous philanthropist to Iranians of all religions. Habib Elghanian was all of these things, but more importantly a symbol of the thriving and vibrant Jewish community that had flourished under the relatively tolerant Pahlavi dynasty in Iran for more than five decades. I spoke recently with Elghanian’s friends and family about his tragic murder 30 years ago and their words were published this week in the L.A. Jewish Journal.
Elghanian employed thousands of individuals in Iran’s first refrigerator manufacturing factory as well as other successful business ventures in Iran. Elghanian had not only built Iran’s first high-rise building in Tehran of 15 stories high—a giant feat at that time, but he also heavily contributed to organizations feeding the needy and orphans of all religions and even built a mosque for his own employees. Despite his many good deeds on behalf of average Iranians, he became the first Jewish victim of Iran’s revolution that took place 30 years ago. Affectionately known to his friends and family members as ‘Haji Habib’, he had initially left Iran at the start of the turbulent Iranian revolution which saw the rise of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power in Iran. Yet Elghanian returned to his homeland several weeks after Khomeini, sensing he had a responsibility as a leader to the Jewish community. The 66-year-old Elghanian was later arrested on February 17, 1979 on trumped up charges of spying for Israel and the United States. After several months in prison, he was given a one-hour sham trial and accused of supposed crimes against the nation of Iran and the Palestinian people. Despite the lack of evidence in his case, a three panel revolutionary court found him guilty and Elghanian was promptly executed by a firing squad on May 9, 1979.
He was the first Jew executed by Iran’s radical Islamic regime and his innocent killing sent shockwaves through Iran’s tight-knit Jewish community that had once lived in relative peace under the Shah. It prompted scores of Iran’s nearly 80,000 Jews to immediately sell off their assets at bargain prices or abandon their assets altogether in order to flee the country for fear of their lives. Today many Iranian Jews in the U.S. and Israel point to Elghanian’s execution as the tipping point for many of them to finally abandon Iran after 2,500 years of living there. Since Elghanian’s execution, a total of 11 Jews in Iran have officially been executed by the current regime and another 14 Jews have been murdered or assassinated by the regime’s agents.
Today, after 30 years since Elghanian’s killing, the painful memories remain vivid for many Iranian Jews in Southern California. Community members were tremendously hurt by the event and still question why he was executed by the current Iranian government. So why have I chosen to write about Elghanian’s execution after 30 years? Why have I sought out the people who were there when he was killed in cold blood? The reason is simple—for NO ONE to forget this heinous crime and for the world to wake up the real evil that lies at the heart of Iran’s regime! The current Iranian government which Joe Biden and Barak Obama are trying to “make friends with and negotiate” is the very same regime that executed Elghanian without any evidence and in cold blood. These Iranian leaders DO NOT understand logic, they DO NOT value human life and more importantly they DO NOT respect anyone that does not follow their radical form of Shiite Islam. Elghanian’s killing should serve as a remind to us in the West of the true nature of the Iranian regime which will eliminate or try to eliminate any persons that they do not agree with! Nothing but wasted time and headaches will arise from “negotiating” with Iran’s current government that is hell-bent on gaining nuclear weapons. We must not and cannot fall into their trap which is looking to buy time for their nuclear weapons program. While I do not advocate military force, I believe the current regime in Iran must be chocked economically by all means necessary in order to force its collapse from within. We cannot allow Iran to make an example of Israel with a nuclear strike as it made an example of Elghanian by killing him 30 years ago. We can only pray that those responsible for Elghanian’s killing will be brought to justice someday for their crime just as many ex-Nazis were punished after World War II.
May 6, 2009 | 1:53 am
Posted by Karmel Melamed
During the course of the year I must receive nearly three or four dozen notices for various Iranian Jewish functions, fundraisers, networking events, religious gatherings and every other shindig you could possibly image coming from Southern California’s Iranian Jewish community. From my own experience the majority of these gatherings are pointless parties where many affluent individuals in our community come to pat each other on the back, show off their wealth excessively or just come hunting for spouses. However occasionally a few major Iranian Jewish organizations in the L.A. area that pursue worthy causes for the community and in Israel, often impress me with their fundraising objectives. The Magbit organization is one of the few local Iranian Jewish groups that deserves some acclaim for putting together substantial funds to help Israel’s future.
This year I was proud to learn that Magbit’s Young Leaders group will be providing funds to Israeli soldiers who fought in the latest Gaza war (Operation Cast Lead) many of these soldiers are just teenagers going to college and trying to protect their homeland. Every year Magbit raises funds through an elegant evening Gala event to provide needy but deserving Israeli college students with interest-free loans in order for them to pay for their university tuitions. These loans are later repaid by the students who join Israel’s advanced technological and medical workforce. However Magbit’s funds this year will be going to Israel’s brave young men and women who fought against terrorists in Gaza that were launching rockets against Southern Israeli cities. One of Magbit’s members gave me some insights into why the organization is now helping Israeli college students who fought in the Gaza War this year:
During the Gaza invasion a great deal of reservists were university students who had to drop their studies to serve their country. The classes they missed, has set them back a semester. In other words, they will have to repeat those courses the following semester or during the summer to get back on track with their studies. The problem with this is, that many of our interest free loan recipients, work during the summer to supplement their expenses during the school year. Now, that they will be repeating school courses in the summer, they will not be able to earn that extra income to pay for their dorms, food or school supplies. It is therefore our duty, to help those students continue paying for their living expenses and concentrate on their studies. - Shushana Djavaheri, Magbit’s Young Leaders’ vice president.
By the way, during the last 18 years more than 9,500 Israeli students have benefited from the Magbit Foundation’s student loan program and more than 95% of those students have repaid their interest-free loans within four years of their graduation. For their efforts this year on behalf of the Israeli veterans of Operation Cast Lead, I take my hat off to the board members and volunteers of the Magbit organization. Their decision to support Israel’s soldiers when the entire world has accused Israel of war crimes speaks volumes. We Iranian American Jews are now sending a clear message to the entire world that Israel is indeed our homeland and while many of us may be blessed with prosperity in the U.S., we have not forgotten our brethern who fight for the rights of all Jews to exisit on this planet. Many of our grandparents, great-grandparents and ancestors endured tremendous anti-Semitism, pogroms, forced conversions and violence in Iran—including horrors stemming from the 1979 Iranian Revolution, so we have a clear understanding of Israel’s importance to us as Jews. Which other country besides Israel will stand up and fight for us Iranian Jews today? We as Iranian American Jews who support Israel through Magbit and other non-profits, are also sending a strong message to those in Iran who want to bring about a second Holocaust in Israel. That message is that we will NOT stand idle and allow you barbaric terrorists to repeat one of the greatest crimes against humanity! Never again! Jewish blood is not cheap and we have not forgotten how Iran’s current regime has executed its Jews, intimidated its Jews and maniplulated its Jewish community for their own public relations efforts during the past 30 years.
Those interested in learning more about Magbit can listen to our blog’s podcast last year that can be found: here.