Nearly 60 Jewish community activists and Iranian Jews gathered at the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) West Los Angeles offices on Jan. 9 to learn about the increasing levels of anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Israel messages being put out internally and abroad by Iran’s state-run media apparatus.
The event, co-sponsored by 30 Years After, a local Iranian-Jewish political and social activism nonprofit, featured an ADL Islamic Affairs analyst.
“For the last year, I have been working with the ADL to monitor the anti-Semitic rhetoric from Iran’s state-run media online in Farsi on a daily basis, translating their messages and helping to generate press releases put out by the ADL which expose the regime’s anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements,” said the ADL’s Islamic Affairs analyst, identified only a Danny for security purposes.
The 20-something Iranian-Jewish Danny, who speaks Farsi and three other languages fluently, said the Iranian regime operates nearly two dozen international news media programs in various languages through its state-run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting network.
The 24-hour television and online programming typically portrays Jews in a stereotypical manner — as blood-drinking, corrupt businessmen who kill innocent Palestinians.
“The Iranian government, through children’s cartoons or ‘Sesame Street’-type shows, is attempting to indoctrinate hate in kids for Jews and Israel by showing simple images of Palestinian children being murdered by Israeli soldiers or glorifying martyrdom in the Israeli-Hamas conflict,” Danny said.
In addition to monitoring the Farsi-language programming put out by Iran, the ADL has exposed the daily anti-Semitic messages exported through Press TV, the regime’s English-language media outlet that broadcasts into Europe and North America.
“Our Press TV report, in particular, has helped raise awareness of the regime’s effort to not only spread its message to the West, but also to prop up American Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites as legitimate pundits,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, based in New York. “For example, when [former Arizona gubernatorial candidate] Mike Harris blamed Israel for the Sandy Hook shooting during an interview on Press TV, we were able to not only quickly expose his appearance, but also demonstrate his ties to the neo-Nazi movement.”
According to the ADL’s blog, Iran also uses social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to spread Holocaust-denial messages and to praise support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. The irony is that after the 2009 elections in Iran, the regime banned all Western social media sites and set up countrywide online barriers for public to access such sites.
Local Iranian-Jewish activists said the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel messages coming from the regime in Iran must be revealed and combated; otherwise their message of hatred can spread in the United States and elsewhere in the West.
“By us not opposing the policies and practices of this regime in Iran, we are only encouraging them and even allowing them to export the same policies abroad to the Iranian émigré communities,” said Frank Nikbakht, an Iranian-Jewish activist who did not attend the event but who heads the L.A.-based Committee for Minority Rights in Iran.
While many Iranian-Jewish leaders in Southern California have been reluctant to publicly criticize the current government in Iran for fear of reprisals against Jews still living in the country, members of 30 Years After said they will continue to work with the ADL and other Jewish groups to keep the public aware of Iran’s growing campaign of spreading anti-Semitism.
“By promoting ADL’s cutting-edge work, not only are we helping expose the Iranian regime’s outrageous anti-Semitic propaganda but we are striving to prompt the Jewish and Iranian-Jewish community into action,” said Sam Yebri, 30 Years After president.
For their part, analysts at the ADL’s Center on Extremism said they continue to closely monitor the Iranian regime’s media messages and translate and publish its anti-Semitic messages on their blog.
For more information on anti-Semitism in Iran, visit Karmel Melamed’s blog, jewishjournal.com/iranianamericanjews.