How safe are Iran’s Jews?

How safe are the 10,000 to 20,000 Jews still living in Iran today? Karmel Melamed writes that they are living with threats from armed Iranian fundamentalists to destroy the tombs of the Esther and Mordechai, considered ‘an arm of Israeli imperialism. Melamed interviews Frank Nikbakht (above), an Iranian Jewish activist in Los Angeles and head of the Committee for Religious Minorities in Iran for The Jewish Weekly of Los Angeles:

How safe is the Jewish community in Iran during violent crackdown on demonstrators in Iran?

The Jewish community in Iran, being considered as a sort of hostage population may be facing new pressures soon, even though they were not involved at all with the demonstrations. This is because of the repeat of the now famous street chants of “neither Gaza, nor Lebanon— Tunisia, Egypt and Iran” and it ends with “my is life dedicated only to Iran”. This was chanted on the Quds day of 2009 by regime opponents. Now the paranoid Iranian regime thinking Israel had a hand in the riots, may pressure the Jewish community to stage pro-Palestinian and pro-Hezbollah demonstrations, issue statements and hold rallies, like in 2009. The regime may, may make certain arrests connected with Israeli sensitivities or by reviving the Islamo-Nazi threats as was the calls for the destruction of Esther’s Shrine in the Western city of Hamedan.

Why are Jews such a target for different forces in Iran during times of turmoil?

Small minorities and in particular hated minorities such as Jews are always in danger of being wiped out. In times of turmoil, war and revolution are the most dangerous because not only may a Nazi-like government such as the Islamic Republic of Iran decide to use its Jewish hostages for deterrence or revenge— but smaller groups of fanatics within the society or the armed forces may decide to do something themselves during a chaotic situation.

How is the Iranian regime different from the Mubarak regime as far as cracking down hard on protestors and clamping down on the telecommunications/internet? And how much more difficult will it be for the “people” to bring down the Iranian regime with their demonstrations?

This is like comparing apples and oranges. The Egyptian regime under Mubarak was perhaps a typical military dictatorship whereas the Iranian regime is a Theocratic one.
Whereas there may have been slightly more people killed in Egypt during their two week long uprising compared with a similar period in the Iranian events of 2009 or February 2011, there are several notable differences, namely the Islamic regime in Iran would go after, target, arrest or even assassinate the family members of street activists or even kill bystanders to spread terror among the whole population. In Iran tens of thousands were arrested even for chanting “Allahu Akbar” from their roofs and thousands were so severely tortured that their stories shocked the new generation who had no direct experience with the Islamic authorities.

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LA’s Iranian Americans keep tabs on new freedom protests in Iran (Jewish Journal of LA)

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