Posted by Karmel Melamed
I continued to be amazed and baffled at how Americans and Europeans still believe that Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani is supposedly “moderate” and wants to supposedly implement new changes of freedom in Iran. As the popular saying goes “the proof is in the pudding” and Rouhani’s pudding since becoming president of Iran in August has been the same business as usual policy of horrendous human rights abuses that the Iranian regime has been notorious for years. This man is NO MODERATE! He is merely a smiling and softly speaking cleric who claims to be “nicer and friendlier to everyone” but in reality supports the same shameful repression of basic freedoms and human rights against the people of Iran that all of predecessors and clerics of the Iranian regime supported.
According to the latest reports released by the U.S. based “Iran Human Rights Documentation Center” (IHRDC) at least 125 executions have taken place in Iran since Rouhani became president of Iran in August with most of the people executed for supposed petty “drug offenses” and sham “security crimes”. Likewise the IHRDC reported that between September 11th and September 25th at least 50 people were executed in Iran alone and a total of 560 people were executed in all of Iran so far this year. Now I would like someone to explain to me what kind of leader is a supposed “moderate” when he allows any executions to take place for crimes of drug offenses?! Where is Rouhani’s benevolence towards human rights, freedom and equality which he repeatedly kept preaching to U.S. media outlets during his many interviews? It is downright shameful how western news media outlets and journalists failed to call Rouhani out on this horrible human rights record of his regime during his recent visits to the U.S.!
Now the Iranian regime’s leadership and other shameful apologists for the Iran regime will claim that Rouhani is a member of executive branch of government in Iran and has no control over the judiciary that carries out the law. Or these apologists or Iranian regime stooges will claim that the U.S. also carries out the death penalty for certain criminals and it only fair that Iran be able to do so as well. Both of these arguments are majorly flawed because Rouhani as the supposed leader of a country that claims to be democratic show have some control or even influence on what the security apparatus in Iran is doing and if he does not, then he not a true president but a mere puppet of Iran’s Supreme leader! Next, while the U.S. does have the death penalty, typically individuals who have carried our heinous crimes of murder and mass killings are tried on death penalty cases. Likewise every person in the U.S. under the U.S. Constitution is given proper representation by an attorney, allowed a fair trial and allowed multiple appeals with numerous courts before being executed. To the contrary, in Iran individuals are randomly arrested on minor charges of “drug use” or trumped up “security crimes against the state”, they are usually beaten to near death in order for the regime to extract false confessions from them and usually hug in public by construction cranes. Moreover the rate of executions for any crimes in Iran is ridiculously high as opposed to any other country in the world. Therefore those who claim Rouhani is not responsible in some way for these unjust executions is living in a fantasy fairytale land of make-believe!
Lastly the truly depraved nature of Iran’s totalitarian radical Islamic regime showed itself last week following news that an Iranian man who had survived a botched hanging in Iran has been ordered to be re-executed by hanging him again! The 37-year-old man who somehow survived the hanging was ordered by the Iranian courts to be given full medical treatment that he could be in perfect health and experience a second hanging for his crime of possessing illegal methamphetamine drugs. What I’d like to know is where was the “moderate” Rouhani when news of this man’s botched execution and re-execution orders came out? Why hasn’t the “moderate” Rouhani or any of the other “moderates” in his government called for this man to be pardoned, especially since he did not commit a violent crime? The truth of the matter is that Rouhani was never a “moderate”, but just as brutal and supportive of the tyrannical nature of the Iranian regime. If this is the way these “ moderate leaders” of Iran treat their own people, I pray we never see what they would do to the world with nuclear weapons in their hands.
We as Americans need to wake up and face the sad reality that Rouhani is NOT and will NEVER be a moderate. Likewise we need to urge our elected officials in Congress and in the White House not to be fooled by the empty rhetoric of Rouhani and realize that they are dealing with a truly evil man who is a part of an even more evil regime in Iran.
(left to right; Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, both radical fundamentalist Islamic clerics)
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October 10, 2013 | 11:25 pm
Posted by Karmel Melamed
The Los Angeles Regional office of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has long been at the forefront of forging new alliances with non-Jewish groups and communities in the city of Los Angeles when it comes to public advocacy on a whole host of issues. Yet the AJC’s on-going efforts for public advocacy concerning Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is to be applauded because they have reached out to local groups that most Jewish organizations would never think of approaching. Last week the AJC joined in an event locally with “NetKal” USC’s Network of Korean-American Leaders to discuss the potential dangers of a North Korean nuclear attack and a nuclear attack from Iran’s current regime. There is perhaps no other local community in Los Angeles than the Koreans who best understand the dangers of a rogue regime headed by a lunatic dictator with access to nuclear weapons. Kudos to the AJC in outreaching to the Korean community and also learning their perspectives on two very dangerous regimes that could potentially plunge the world into an unspeakable chaos if either country launched nuclear weapons.
I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Rabbi Mark Diamond, the Regional Director of AJC Los Angeles about the AJC’s outreaching event with the local Korean community. The following is a portion of that conversation…
Can you please share with us why AJC decided to go forward with this event regarding Iran and North Korea's threats of nuclear war at this point in time?
The relationship AJC Los Angeles enjoys with the Korean American community in general, and NetKal (USC’s Network of Korean-American Leaders) in particular, spans several years. Our partnership produced an acclaimed program in this series in 2012, a groundbreaking project that focused on human rights abuses, spearheaded by young professionals in the Jewish and Korean-American communities. This year’s program, “Crossroads of Diplomacy: Evaluating the Threats of North Korea and Iran,” was another example of how our communities are working together with common goals and interests. We are two large, diverse communities in southern California that come together for friendship and fellowship. We share a unique bond in discussing the dangers posed by two nations, in two different parts of the world, whose nuclear ambitions threaten their neighbors, regions and global peace and security. This program could not have come at a more critical moment given recent developments in Iran and North Korea.
Following your recent event, how receptive do you believe the local Korean community is in understanding the threat of a nuclear Iran to Israel and the rest of the world?
Few communities in the United States are more likely to understand the nuclear threat that Iran poses for Israel than the Korean-American community. The response by Korean American leaders and their concern, not only for the nuclear threats from North Korea, but also Iran, has been positive and humbling. The Korean American community in Los Angeles has expressed the utmost understanding for the situation that Israel faces and has expressed their desire to forge even stronger ties with the Jewish community through this unique partnership with AJC Los Angeles.
AJC has long sought alliance with many different non-Jewish groups locally and nationally on an array of issues. As a result of your efforts, how has the relationship between the Korean community and Jewish community changed locally regarding the Iranian nuclear issue?
When communities become aware of one another’s concerns and begin to take that awareness to a deeper level—one of mutual understanding and respect—relationships themselves deepen and evolve. Though our dialogue and desire to learn more about how we share mutual interests, values and concerns, we have discovered that our communities are aligned in many ways. We acknowledge that there are similarities and differences between North Korea and Iran. North Korea and Iran both cheated on their pledges by seeking nuclear weapons capability. Both nations gave verbal assurances to the international community that was not backed up by corresponding action. Instead, they divert major resources to acquiring nuclear materials. Both were isolated and subjected to economic sanctions by the United States and international community. Both have abysmal human rights records. North Korea has long been a reliable supplier of arms and nuclear technology to Iran and both have united to undermine international efforts, including the UN Arms Trade Treaty, to set standards for cross-border transfers of conventional weapons.
Aside from the nuclear threat, there have been horrible crimes committed against humanity in both the regimes in North Korea and Iran. Has AJC and other non-Jewish groups you have worked with addressed this human rights tragedy in your panel events?
AJC was founded more than 100 years ago as a human rights organization. At the core of our global Jewish advocacy work is AJC’s mission, which includes “advancing human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world.” AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI) has documented shocking human rights abuses in Iran and North Korea. Speakers at our recent program addressed these abuses in their remarks, underscoring AJC’s concern for human rights in both countries.
What other non-Jewish groups and has the AJC has been outreaching to with regards to the issue of Iran's threat of nuclear weapons?
Central to AJC’s mission is our advocacy work with foreign diplomats and national, state and local elected officials. At each meeting, AJC leaders raise these issues with our interlocutors. We also engage in dialogue on this issue with our many faith and intergroup partners, including the Baha'i community, which is particularly engaged in the issue because of the persecution of the Baha'i community in Iran. This December, AJC Los Angeles will partner with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council for a major program featuring AJC Executive Director, David Harris, who will deliver a keynote address on the threat of a nuclear Iran and other global issues.
October 2, 2013 | 6:48 pm
Posted by Karmel Melamed
A few weeks ago Iran’s newly “elected” president Hassan Rouhani as well as Iran’s newest foreign minister Mohammad Javid Zarif both took to the social media site “Twitter” to tweet well wishes to Jews worldwide for Rosh Hashana. News media outlets in the U.S., Europe and Israel were all abuzz that Rouhani and Zarif were supposedly extending an “olive branch of peace” to Jews through their tweets for the Jewish new year. Yet many Iranian human rights activists and journalists like myself who have been following the Iranian regime’s media tactics for years know very clearly that the “tweets” from Rouhani and Zarif were not goodwill gestures to Jews, Israel or America— but merely propaganda stunts to fool individuals in the West that they are not as “bad” folks as Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was a very proud and outspoken anti-Semite, Holocaust denier and hater of all things Western. The tweets from Rouhani and Zarif were a part of their larger publicity campaign to halt the strong sanctions on Iran by projecting a supposed “nicer” face to Iran’s totalitarian regime. It is clear to us journalists of Iranian background that Rouhani and his “moderates” cronies in Tehran are involved in full media damage control mode in an effort to paint a new giant happy face that was destroyed during the last eight years by Iran’s ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Western news media.
The Iranian regime’s propaganda wing never ceases to amaze me with their unending attempts to show that their regime is supposedly “all loving and kind” to the Jews with their endless publicity stunts, press releases and ridiculous statements made by Iran’s only Jewish member of parliament that the regime treats Jews with supposed 100% equality! I have written extensively about how the Iranian regime uses the Jews living in Iran as propaganda pawns to improve their image in their world. The Iranian regime is quick to pull out the Jewish member of Iran’s Parliament to show that Iran’s Jews have “fair representation”. Yet what the mainstream media does not realize are that comments made by any Jewish leaders in Iran to the Western media lack credible since these leaders have been hand-picked by the Iranian Intelligence Ministry to parrot what the regime tells them to say. Whenever any journalist goes to Iran to talk to the Jews, they are handed over to hand-picked Jews who have been given a script to read from—just as was the case with the Nazi films at Theresienstadt during World War II. What is even more outrageous about Iran’s propaganda machine is that the regime does not grant visas to journalists it deems unsympathetic to their regime! So the Iranian officials have had pretty much free reign in spewing their one-sided message regarding Iranian Jews that is in no way objective. This is by far not fair and balanced journalism!
The Iranian regime, much like the Nazi regime, loves to parade the Jews of Iran in front of the international news cameras to attack Israel in any way possible because they know these news outlets will carry stories about Jews “condemning Israel”. Anyone in the right mind who actually believes that the Jews of Iran hate Israel is foolish. Jews along with other religious minorities in Iran live in constant fear for their lives because the Iranian regime by law treats them as second class citizens who have few rights than the Muslim majority and can be immediately punished for a whole host of “crimes” the regime can conjure up. The only reason Jews in Iran even participated in the sham protests against Israel or America is because members of Iran’s secret police threaten their lives if they do not do what these radical Islamic thugs dictate to them!
As a journalist who exclusively covers Iranian Jewry and has close ties to the community, I am personally baffled at how member of the media in the U.S. and Europe can make any assertions that life is great for Jews in Iran. On a regular basis, I am reminded by countless Iranian American Jewish leaders to “watch” what I might be writing about the Iranian regime for fear that what I may report on may have negative repercussions on the Jews of Iran. So my question is why on earth are Iranian American Jews so concerned about my words and the safety of their brethren in Iran if everything is supposedly so fine and dandy for Jews in Iran? If Jews are supposedly free to practice their religion in Iran without restrictions, then why have the Iranian regime’s leaders during the last 34 years forced Jews to keep their Jewish day schools open on the Sabbath which is holy to the Jewish people? Why do Iranian authorities repeatedly refuse the Jewish community’s requests to close their Jewish schools during the Sabbath in Iran? Also, why have nearly 100,000 Jews fled Iran since 1979 if life is supposedly so fantastic and free for Jews in Iran? Likewise, if things are so happy and rosy for the Jews of Iran, then was Toobah Nehdaran, a 57-year-old married woman brutally murdered and had her body mutilated by radical Islamic thugs in the Iranian city of Isfahan in November 2012? Why have Nehdaran’s murders not been brought to justice yet by the Iranian authorities? All of these clear facts prove that Rouhani and all the other Islamic clerics who control the Iranian regime do not give a damn about the Jews of Iran or the Jews of any other country!
I was quite surprised that news media outlets in the U.S. and Europe have been fooled into believing that Rouhani and his gang are supposedly “nicer” and “moderate” than the other radical Islamic leaders of Iran’s current regime. The fact of the matter is that Rouhani is NO MODERATE! It is a misnomer for anyone to call him a “moderate” because he currently does not take any stance on Israel, the rights of Jews or minorities in Iran, or on the nuclear issue that are any different than his predecessor Ahmadinejad or Iran’s brutal Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei! The only difference between Rouhani and Ahmadinejad is that Rouhani smiles for the western news media cameras, speaks of wanting supposed “peace with the west” and says he wants to give more freedoms to the people of Iran. But the proof is in the pudding and while Rouhani may talk the talk of being “different or moderate”, his actions are no different than those of Ahmadinejad. The centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear sites are still spinning full speed ahead, Baha’is and Christians are still being brutally tortured and killed in Iran for practicing their faiths and Rouhani has not denounced the calls from other leaders in Iran who want Israel destroyed. Sadly Americans and Europeans do not understand the Farsi language programs broadcasted by Iran’s state-run media and do not see nor hear the real Rouhani. Throughout the recent “elections” in Iran Rouhani kept boasting in his news media interviews and during the candidate debates that he was the only one during the 1990’s as Iran’s nuclear negotiator who deceived the West and bought time for the nuclear program to get to this irreversible stage! Now people who may not believe me, can always buy a copy of Rouhani’s biography in Farsi (that has not been translated into English) online in which he point blank admits to deceiving the West in order to buy Iran more time for their nuclear program. Also the news media in the West also forgets that Rouhani was one of only a handful of presidential candidates hand-picked by Iran’s Supreme Leader to run for the presidency of Iran. So how moderate and how open to change can a man who has been approved by Iran’s most radical leader truly be? Lastly, let us not forget that Rouhani from the age of 18 was a protégé of and studied under Iran’s late dictator the Ayatollah Khomeini-- the brutal founder of Iran’s current radical Islamic regime. So anyone brought up with Khomeini’s idiotic radical fundamentalist Islamic ideologies can in no way be a moderate!
In the end it also very funny to me to sees how that regime prevents average Iranians and journalists from using social media sites like Twitter, while at the same time Rouhani and Iran’s leaders easily use Twitter to get their propaganda messages out to the world! The hypocrisy of the Iranian regime is truly amazing! Let us disregard this bogus Rosh Hashana tweet from Rouhani and all the other clowns in Iran’s regime who claim to “love” the Jews but are really faking it.
(Ileft to right; Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad and Iran's current president Hassan Rouhani)