The execution of reporter Karmel Melamed’s cousin Ebi by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, one of 27 Jews known to have died at the hands of the Iranian regime, finally provoked the family’s exit from Iran. Karmel Melamed tells a personal story in the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles:(with thanks: Albert)
“He was shot with one bullet to his heart,” said my cousin Abe Berookhim, a Los Angeles Iranian Jewish businessman.
At a Sinai Temple Men’s Club meeting earlier this month, Berookhim publicly shared the 30-year-old heart-wrenching story of his 31-year-old uncle’s arrest and execution at the hands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Berookhim’s story is not only remarkable in itself, but it also had special meaning to me, as it was related to my own family’s tragic exit from Iran.
With Iran’s Islamic government stirring up trouble in the Middle East, Berookhim is among the growing number of local Iranian Jews who are finally beginning to speak out about the horrors they faced in Iran, part of an effort to give Americans a better idea of the enormous threat Iran poses to world peace.
Now in his late 50’s, Berookhim nostalgically recalled the prosperity and tranquility Jews living in Iran experienced prior to the revolution. His own family was among the many Jewish families who enjoyed that prosperity.
“We owned two hotels: Hotel Sina and Hotel Royal Gardens, which was a five-star hotel, with 500 rooms, five restaurants and different foreign visitors staying there,” said Berookhim. “I remember U.S. diplomats having their July 4th parties in our hotel.”
But the good times were short-lived as anti-Shah and anti-Western protests in 1978-9 flooded the streets of Tehran. When the Shah fled, chaos erupted in the streets, and angry Revolutionary Guards did not spare the Hotel Royal Gardens. The hotel was a symbol of the West, and as a result its windows were smashed, its curtains set ablaze, and one of its co-owners, Berookhim’s uncle Ebrahim, was arrested by the regime’s armed thugs.
“They blindfolded my uncle Ebi and took him to prison,” Berookhim said. “I was told by someone working in the hotel not to come there because the men who took Ebi were also looking for me.”