Posted by Karmel Melamed
A new television commercial suggesting U.S. presidential candidate John McCain is involved in a Jewish conspiracy against Iran, recently aired in Iran courtesy of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Translations of this commercial were made by the Washington-based, Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) that typically does an excellent job at exposing the anti-Semitic and anti-American rhetoric spewed by Iran’s radical Islamic government. MEMRI’s latest translations of the “McCain Jewish conspiracy” commercial gives great new insights into the mentality of the Iranian government when it comes to McCain and the 2008 U.S. presidential race. The a seven-minute computer-animated commercial can be viewed with subtitles here.
This Iranian government propaganda commercial identifies McCain as a “White House official who is conspiring to overthrow the regime in Iran with the help of the Jewish tycoon and mastermind of ultra-modern colonialism” George Soros. Animated figures of Soros and McCain are shown in the commercial chatting around a table with other American “colonialists” to discuss how they’re supposedly going to topple the government in Iran. This commercial reveals that the Iranian regime is fearful of McCain and the possibility that he might stand up to them if he is elected president. So the regime’s goons have already begun attacking McCain’s character and what better way to vilify any person in the Middle East than to use the classic anti-Semitic charge that they are involved in a “Jewish conspiracy!” The Iranian government’s motto like most Islamic and Arab governments is simple…whenever you’re in trouble or want to divert attention away from your own shortcomings, “just blame the Jews!” It is simply ludicrous to suggest that Soros and McCain would be involved in anything since both men have no friendship, no association with one another and nothing in common. Soros is an extreme left-wing political activist while McCain is a Republican conservative. What a bunch of B.S. put out by the Iranian government!
Moreover, this Iranian TV commercial is not only anti-Semitic, but also reveals that the Iranian government is seriously concerned with domestic groups within Iran that may be emboldened to topple the regime if a hawkish U.S. president like McCain is elected. The propaganda commercial asks average Iranian people to “snitch” on their friends and relatives who they think may be involved in subversive activities. The commercial claims that those turned over to the government will be given a light punishment…again more lies, considering the fact that Iran’s current laws require death by hanging for anyone involved in spying or trying to help topple the regime. Perhaps the next U.S. administration should support these opposition groups in Iran and their efforts to topple the regime if the Iranian government is so fearful of such a coup. Regime change done by the Iranian people from within just maybe what the doctor ordered in removing these radical Islamic elements from power in Iran.
We in the U.S. need to take notice of these messages coming from Iran when we vote in November. The regime in Tehran unfortunately only understands a show of strength and nothing else. The mullahs in Iran know very well which presidential candidate will stand up to them if elected and which candidate will be a softy who literally let’s them get away with murder.
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February 21, 2008 | 4:32 pm
Posted by Karmel Melamed
According to a report released by the Beverly Hills police department, last night at 9 pm, Alfred Hakim, a 49 year old Beverly Hills resident was allegedly shot by his 47-year-old brother Adel Hakim in the 400 block of North Palm Drive. Local Iranian Jewish leaders declined to comment on the incident but confirmed that both brothers are Iranian Jews. While no motive has been identified by police, Alfred Hakim is listed in critical condition at nearby Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Adel Hakim according to the report is being held by police without bail after being arrested following a traffic accident.
This tragedy has indeed been a shock for the local Iranian Jewish community as incidents of shootings, killings, or this type of violence are very rare for member of our community to be involved in. For the most part, L.A. area Iranian Jews are affluent, well educated and law abiding. During my reporting on the community over the last eights years I have heard of incidents of Iranian Jews being killed in robberies or involved in domestic violence and drug abuse, but never come across news of such violence between two Iranian Jews. Many in the tight-knit Iranian Jewish community in L.A. typically consider talking about these events as taboo and bringing shame to one’s family. Others who hear of such tragic occurrences fear for the future of the Iranian Jewish community’s survival in America’s open society.
February 20, 2008 | 4:56 pm
Posted by Karmel Melamed
Iran’s radical fundamentalist Islamic leaders never cease to make me laugh nowadays with their almost daily ridiculous news releases to the Western media concerning Jews and Israel. This is one of their latest asinine news releases put out by the Iranian government’s state-run media. Ayatollah Ali Akbar Nateq Nuri would now like to “have the Jews return” back to Iran:
“The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes all Iranian Jews who have immigrated to the occupied Palestine,” he stressed. Speaking to reporters in Cairo he said the Islamic Republic of Iran supports all Palestinian and Lebanese factions, adding “Tehran’s support to Hezbollah Movement backs to its braveness in fighting against the Zionist regime.”
This offer to “welcome” the Jews back to Iran stinks as a yet another publicity stunt by the Iranian government to seek sympathy for the international community by claiming that they “love” Jews. If the regime supposedly would like to welcome Jews, then would they reimburse the 80,000 Iranian Jews who live outside of Iran the billions of dollars in assets the Iranian government confiscated from the Jews of Iran since 1979? If they want to welcome the Jews back to Iran, will Jews be given the same equal rights that Muslims have in that country? If they want to welcome the Jews back to Iran, will they apologize for wrongfully executing more than a dozen Iranian Jews since 1979 for supposedly being “Zionist spies”? If they want to welcome the Jews back to Iran, will the Iranian government finally release information about the 12 Jews who they arrested in the 1990’s and have not yet be heard from?
The answer to these and other questions is a very obvious NO. This is because this regime in Iran would never truly welcome Jews back to that country and give them the same freedom Jews enjoy in the U.S. and other democratic free nations. Again and again the current Iranian government has proven that it does not welcome Jews and will never welcome them because of their unfair laws and anti-Semitic state of mind. Jews and other religious minorities may have a “representative” in the government, but this is merely for show as the majority of Iranian laws treat all religious minorities as second class citizens. Likewise we can’t forget the daily calls from the Iranian government for the annihilation of the State of Israel. It is simply ridiculous and hypocritical to say you welcome Jews to your country on the one hand but on the other hand you want to eliminate the Jewish State from the face of the earth!
So to Nateq-Nouri, I say no thanks…we Iranian Jews have had enough of your government’s B.S. and terror toward our brethren in Iran and in Israel. We do not want to return to that country while jackasses like yourself are in power. We do not want to return to a country whose leadership has terrorized Jews, Muslims, Christians and others who do not follow your radical form of Islam. We do not want to return to a country whose leaders constantly call for the destruction of another country. We do not want to return to a country where we will be forced to live in constant fear for our lives and be treated as second class citizens because of our religion. We do not want to live in a country where we have to be ashame of loving Israel and being proud of America.
For those unfamiliar with Nateq-Nouri, he was the former hardliner speaker of the Iranian “Majles” or parliament and ran in the 1997 Iranian presidential elections against Mohammad Khatami. He became involved in politics in 1963 as an anti-Shah activist while studying under the radical Islamic Ayatollah Montazeri in the Iranian city of Qom. After being arrested numerous times by the late-Shah’s regime, he eventually fled the country for Lebanon and Syria. But Nateq-Nouri, quickly rose to prominence in Iran following the 1979 revolution and was Minister of Interior from 1981 to 1985.
One last thought to leave you with…why is the Iranian government so interested in the plight of the Palestinian people and bad mouthing Israel, instead of helping the suffering people of Iran who are a Muslim majority? Iran is now facing double digit unemployment, high inflation, food and gas shortages, massive trade embargos, international pressure on their banking systems…and the list goes on. It’s amazing how the crazy mullahs in Iran do nothing about their own country’s problems but always use the Jews and Israel as a scapegoat for their domestic problems and shortcomings!
February 17, 2008 | 11:46 pm
Posted by Karmel Melamed
On Sunday February 17, 2008 roughly 500 Los Angeles area Iranian Jews bid a final farewell to the late Iranian Jewish historian Dr. Amnon Netzer during his memorial at Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills. He had died a few days earlier at the age of 73 at UCLA Medical Center while visiting Los Angeles. To the academic world and for non-Jewish Iranian intellectuals, Netzer was known as one of the world’s foremost experts in the areas of Iranian history, culture, and linguistics. For the tight-knit Iranian Jewish community worldwide he was considered a legend who had researched and help preserve the near 2,500 year history of Iranâs Jewry.
Netzer was born in the northwestern Iranian city of Rasht in 1934 and immigrated with his family to Israel in 1950. He is credited for working as an editor for various Persian language newspapers in Tel Aviv during the 1950âs and as the first producer/anchor of the Persian language news broadcasts on the Voice of Israel radio between 1955 and 1958. After receiving a degree in Middle East and International Affairs from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in 1965 Netzer obtained a degree from New Yorkâs Columbia University in Iranian Studies, Indo-European languages, as well as Semitic Languages and literature. Later in 1969, Netzer obtained his doctoral degree in the same subjects from Columbia and went on to teach at various universities through out his career.
In 1970, Netzer returned to Israel where he co-founded the Iranian Studies department at Hebrew University and began his research on Iranian Jewish history as well as the ancient Judeo-Persian language. He not only authored scores of articles about Iranian Jewish history but helped compile, âPadyavandâ, a rare and comprehensive three volume book detailing various significant events in Iranian Jewish history. His research on Iranian Jewry was not only as a result of his travels to the most remote villages in Iran to find Jews, but also as a result of visiting archives worldwide to locate documentation about Iranian Jewry. Netzerâs friends said he was also among a small and distinguished panel of academics that were frequently called on by Israeli government officials to share their expertise regarding Iran and the Middle East.
I had the rare pleasure of knowing Netzer during the last five years and interviewed him on a number of occasions for my articles about Iranian Jews and their ties to Purim. His historical knowledge about the topic was literally mind blowing and beyond genius! I also found him to be a humble man who did not seek the limelight nor community acclaim for his work. This was quite refreshing to witness because I typically see some individuals in our community often doing their best to show off their ‘accomplishments’ at every opportunity. From my observations, what has been most heartbreaking to his close friends and former students in the Iranian Jewish community was the lack of sufficient financial support Netzer received for his research. Many of his Iranian Jewish friends have told me confidentially that they felt as if the wealthy in our community who could have given grants to Netzer so that he could conduct his research more efficiently and rapidly, did not do so. Netzer had also revealed his disappointment and heartbreak with some in the Iranian Jewish community who had taken advantage of his kindness or taken credit for his work without giving him correct attribution. Unfortunately while financial support for the arts and academia might be important in certain communities, the Iranian American Jewish community demonstrated that support for Nezter’s work—which was groundbreaking—was not a priority for them.
While the Iranian Jews are still struggling to come to grips with Netzerâs passing, his close friends said future generations will undoubtedly benefit from his legacy and knowledge he left behind.
February 14, 2008 | 4:35 pm
Posted by Karmel Melamed
Angela Cohan is a Los Angeles area Iranian Jewish mom, writer, community activist and a friend of mine who recently shared with me an incident last year in which anti-Semitic remarks were made at a local grocery store own by Iranian Muslims in the Westwood area. Her outrage over the incident has led her to organize a small boycott of the market, but she has decided not to name the store as she believes the owners are not anti-Semitic. Instead she wrote an essay sharing her feelings about the incident. I found her essay to be quite interesting considering the often hidden anti-Semitic sentiments some non-Jewish Iranian groups living in Iran, Europe and even America still harbor toward Jews.
It should be noted that the Iranian American Muslim community is by in large not anti-Semitic and shares close friendships with their Jewish compatriots here in the U.S. In fact the strong cultural and linguistic bonds Iranians of all religions share along with the sense of tolerance created in Iran prior to the 1979 revolution, has kept the majority of them on friendly terms with one another in America.
No doubt this incident which Cohan encountered may have been isolated, nevertheless it is important to take note of as some anti-Semitism still exists among some non-Jewish Iranians. Only by bringing such stories to light and engaging Iranians of other faiths can we as Jews help erase any anti-Jewish sentiments that may exist. Cohan’s painful story is as follows:
By Angela Cohan
We came to California in search of the dream. Like the sound of sirens, through the Pacific Ocean, California beckoned us to a better life and a safer future. Leaving everything behind, we bypassed the contiguous states and landed here in search of Camelot. Almost 30 years later, my soul still remains a slave to the soil that belonged to my ancestors. I seek solace in Westwood where I crave to connect to my roots, when I yearn to speak in my native tongue and go in hopes of finding my compassionate comrades and compatriots. As I entered the Persian market in Westwood I smelled the sweet smell of cream puffs and saffron and took in the sweet smell of the jasmine of my childhood.
The clerk was engaged in a heated argument with a customer. The poor woman had not left the store when I heard the clerk talking condescendingly about her. She was carelessly bad mouthing her Jewish clients. I stared into her callous and icy cold green eyes. She was looking at my credit card. She looked up at me and said: “Cohan? You’re a Cohan? You’re Jewish?”
“Yes.” I declared proudly. I gave her an equally cold and calculated smile. “You don’t look Jewish,” she said with a sly smirk. Suffice it to say that I have not returned to that store and have since created a campaign and told my friends and family members to boycott the market. I didn’t give up my country and move 20,000 kilometers to flee from ignorant bigots to be talked down to by a condescending camel of a woman who started cursing Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and the rest of the mullahs.
She was holding to my arm and not letting me go but not out of contrition. She was talking about burning all the prophets that same fundamental hatred that scared us out of our homeland and drove us away in 1979. Almost 30 years later and halfway around the world, the same dark force has followed us where ignorant fools scrutinize, slander and self-flagellate. My 15-year-old daughter is in Israel studying and teaching tolerance among cultures and this coward is talking about burning people?
Enough hate, enough rage, enough bloodshed! It’s time to grow up and learn to share the world. And so my little critters, I am not a cold-blooded, calculating creature, I have learned to stay calm while the calamity subsides.
February 12, 2008 | 1:40 pm
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:
February 9, 2008 | 2:11 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 6, 2008 | 11:48 pm
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.