Have the Jews of Iran really been persecuted?

An interesting exchange on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free about the Jews of Iran:

GIJoeSixPack (referring to a comment that Jews were ‘forced out’ of Iran): When I read this, I immediately called my dentist to see what he thought of this statement. He is an Iranian Jew currently living in California but goes back to Iran on a regular basis to see his parents. He says you are full of it. No Jews were ever forced out of Iran. According to him, they (Iranian Jews) even have a member of Parliment in Iran. They are guaranteed a seat in the parliament. Go figure!

Mclefty: Erm, the Jews of Iran were immediately put in a position of second-class citizenry upon the ascension of the Ayatollah. They were stripped of their assets, their women were forced to wear headscarves and they were immediately earmarked as potential Zionist spies. Their decreasing community is under constant suspicion and every few years, a show trial is arranged that involves accusing Iranian Jews of spying for Israel. Most are desperate to get out and live in the UK, US or Israel. They were barred from starting or joining political parties or voting (Muslims only) and their lone representative is nothing more than a stooge – a scared one at that, who is forced to condemn Israel and pay lipservice to the authorities. Even worse than the Jews was the treatment meted out to the peaceful and benign Baha’i people (considered Apostates by hardline Shia Muslims.) Left alone under the Shah (a despot in his own right) – these people have been systematically and brutally eliminated.

GIJoe: A long standing girlfriend of mine fled Iran and I know many, many Persian Jews – they all fled a vibrant life in Iran because their rights and freedoms were curtailed by the Revolution. Why is your ‘doctor’ in the US if life was so wonderful in Iran?

Richardisrael: (…) I live in Israel and three of my best friends are Jews of Persian descent, and I know many others. They tell a bit of a different story. How their families were threatened after the Islamic revolution, how that had to flee and leave their belongings. Of course there is still a community of about 40,000 Jews in Iran (estimates usually range between 20,000 and 25,000 – ed), the largest outside of Israel in the Middle East, but they aren’t allowed any contact with Jews outside of Iran, unless these Jews are vocally against Israel.

Don’t believe me? It would seem that you are the one that is misinformed. Maybe you should read about Persian jewry in wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Jews

Why don’t you scroll down to the section where they talk about discrimination.

I have to say that giving them a seat in the Iranian parliment is a nice gesture, it might even make them almost feel they aren’t persecuted.

Of course we know that anybody, particulary non-Muslims, that live in Iran and speak up about the government are persecuted. It goes without saying that if the Jews would open their mouths they’d be in trouble.

If it interests you so much, why don’t you conduct a poll of Persian Jews that live outside of Iran, and see what they really think. I’m sure your dentist is an honest guy, and I know that many Jews that remain in Iran still live decent lives, but it doesn’t meant the 120,000 that have fled since the revolution weren’t persecuted.

Or the other million or two (one million will do -ed) that were forced out of other Muslim countries over the years weren’t persecuted either.


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