Jewish Journal

Iran’s regime uses the Jews again for publicity damage control

by Karmel Melamed

December 26, 2007 | 5:43 pm

Following yesterday’s dramatic news of 40 Jews immigrating to Israel from Iran, the Iranian government has again marched out the leaders of the Jewish community in the country to do their public relations damage control. Maurice Motamed, the only Jewish member of the Iranian parliament and Ciamak Morsathegh, who heads the Tehran Jewish Committee were both out in full force chatting with CNN , and other western media news outlets trying to portray the lives of Jews in Iran as “safe” and supposedly free from Anti-semitism. In an effort to combat the negative publicity about the Iranian government generated yesterday and make Iran sound like the “garden of Eden” for Jews, both Motamed and Morsathegh were almost parroting the same words Iran’s fundamentalist Islamic leaders have been saying recently about the country’s 20,000 Jews:

“We are one of the oldest communities in Iran. We are free to practice our religion. Anti-Semitism is a Western phenomenon but Jews have never been in danger in Iran. We are Iranian Jews and are proud of our nationality. No amount of money can encourage us to give up Iran. Our nationality is not up for sale,” Morsathegh said.

The hope of the mullahs who hold the true power in Iran is to reverse the bad press they have been getting as anti-Semitic jihadists. Undoubtedly news of 40 Jew leaving Iran in a covert mission is embarrassing to the regime who is trying to curry favor with European countries whom they want to trade with. What better way to combat any anti-Semitic rhetoric Iran’s President spews than to march out the countries Jews and have them say “great things” about the regime! You may wonder why the Jewish community leaders in Iran are so willing to praise the regime that is holding them hostage. The answer is simple…duress! They say whatever their captors tell them to say or else all Jews in Iran will suffer unknown persecution. For this reason, comments made by Motamed and other Jews in Iran lack all credibility.

If we are to believe the Jewish leaders in Iran and accept their words that Iran is a paradise for Jews to live in, then why has the once 100,000 strong Jewish community dwindled down to 20,000? Why have thousands of Jews fled Iran since 1979 and been forced to leave billions of dollars in assets behind if the regime is so fair and gives rights to Jews? If Iran is such a just and fair country to the Jews, then why do Iranian Islamic laws, have separate punishments for the same crimes depending on whether the victim is Muslim or not, or whether the offender is Muslim or non-Muslim? For example, in the case of rape…if the man is a Muslim and the woman a Jew (or any non-Muslim) the man will face no penalty, except pay the woman compensation if it was a very violent rape. But if a non-Muslim rapes a Muslim woman, the only punishment he will face is execution!

As a journalist who exclusively covers Iranian Jewry and has close ties to the community, I am personally baffled at how members of the media in the U.S. and Europe can make any assertions that life is supposedly “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 government 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?

But Jews are not the only victims of the Iranian government’s tyranny. Other religious minorities including Christians, Zoroastrians and Bahais are also prime targets for the fundamentalist Islamic strongmen in Iran’s government. According to Frank Nikbakht, director of the L.A.-based Committee for Minority Rights in Iran, non-Muslims who convert to Islam are not abused but Muslims who convert to Judaism, Christianity, or the Bahai faith face execution for doing so. “Many converts and the advocates of conversion such as Christian priests and Bahai leaders have been executed,” said Nikbakht in a recent interview with me. Nikbakht added; “however during the past 10 years, in order to avoid international pressure for executing religious minorities, Iran’s Islamic Republic has done the following:

1) Closed down whole operations such as churches and imprisoned church or Bahai leaders.

2) Condemned to DEATH, several priests and Bahais leaders, but not carried out the sentences until their cases were forgotten.

3) Assassinated the person converting Muslims in a Muslim ritual manner by means of multiple stabbings the person in the chest or cutting their throat and dropping their body in front of his/her house where others can see. The government has giving media coverage to these crimes but not arresting anyone of them.

Hundreds of Bahais and dozens of Christians have been executed or killed in these ways. It is happening right now, perhaps two or three every year in order to keep everyone in line”.

Now if these laws and actions toward Jews and religious minorities in Iran are not signs of a totalitarian inhumane regime, then in the world has truly gone mad by not recognizing such evil. The news media in American and Europe need to wake up and recognize this propaganda the Iranian government is spewing out by using Jews as their publicity pawns. Their manipulation of Jews for publicity purposes is wrong, disgusting and must be exposed!

For those who do not believe that the Iranian government is using Jews for P.R. purposes, the following abbreviated list of the publicity stunts and propaganda moves that the regime has undertaken this year to fix their image is evidence of it:

Producing and broadcasting “Zero Degree Turn” a television series on Iranian state-run network which accepts the existence of the Holocaust and shows an Iranian-Palestinian man saving a Jewish woman’s life in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Despite the show’s efforts to show that Iran is supposedly tolerant of the Holocaust, it is full of inaccuracies and attacks “Zionists”. Jews are shown in a poor light in the program by speaking Persian inaccurately and portrayed as untrustworthy by accepting and giving bribes.

Announcing that the Iranian government supposedly “loves the Jews” by publicizing the Iranian regime’s plans to build a new 73,000 square foot cultural and sports complex for the Jewish community in central Tehran.

Putting out press releases and sending their lackeys in the Western media to say that Ahmadinejad’s comments about Israel being wiped off the map were “incorrectly translated”. What a bunch of horse manure! We all know very well what Ahmadinejad said and what he meant, there’s no way to back track on it.

Sending out press releases that Iran’s Jews condemn Ahmadinejad’s “mistreatment” at Columbia University in September. Here’s an example of one such: press release

Sending out press releases that Iran’s Jews participated in “Quds Day” an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan to voice support for the Palestinian people. Here’s an example of one such press release

(Maurice Motamed, during his December 2006 visit to the Iranian American Jewish Federation’s synagogue in West Hollywood, photo by Karmel Melamed)

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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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