1970s Jews in Iran were ‘like the Jews in Germany’

  A Jewish physician  and his family in Iran, circa 1880 (photo: JIMENA)

What do Laudie Freed, Luci Cohen-Zimering and Doris Nachum have in
common? They are all Jewish refugees whose stories are recorded on the JIMENAwebsite. Last week, JIMENA unveiled 11 different sections
covering the Jewish communities in 11 different countries. Report by
Sandy Rashty for The Jewish Chronicle:

Iran-born Laudie Freed, who left Tehran in 1966, said experiences of
“some of the Jews in Iran were like the Jews in Germany. After all the
oil money had poured into the country in the 1970s and the country was
prosperous, [the Jewish community] didn’t think anything could happen to
them.”

Ms Freed says her uncle Habib Elghanian, a well-known Iranian Jewish
philanthropist, was executed for building a skyscraper in Tehran because
“you cannot build a building higher than a mosque”.

The mother of three also recalled a time when her father was called a
“dirty Jew” as he tried to buy vegetables from a cart owner. “I have
never been back to Iran and I never want to go back,” says Ms Freed, who
now lives in California. “I don’t know how safe it is [for Jews]
there.”

Surprisingly, Ms Freed has praised Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, who has been accused of antisemitism and saying that
Zionists control the world. “At least he speaks the truth of his heart
and doesn’t disguise it,” she says. “He brings to light the true
fanaticism in the Iranian government.”

Luci Cohen-Zimering, from Tunisia, said she grew up in a Jewish area
in Tunis at a time when “Jews were respected and highly ranked
professionally. For Pesach, we all gathered around a table covered in a
white table cloth and adorned with crystal glasses,” she recalled.

She says in
1967, after the Six Day War, “Jews were attacked in the streets and the
synagogue was burned.” Returning to Tunisia in 2000 felt “like total
chaos. The taxi driver could not even find the street where we lived
because the names were different. The Great Synagogue was heavily
guarded by soldiers for safety.”

Doris Nachum, 53, recalled a mass of attacks against Jews in Libya,
when the Six Day War started in 1967. She lived above a synagogue in
Tripoli and reports that “whenever something happened in Israel – there
would be Arabs out in the street rioting and looking for Jews. [At the
start of the Six Day War] our home was the first target – they were
banging at the door – it was horrible. They were chanting, ‘kill the
Jewish’.” The family later escaped to Israel before Doris moved to the
US in 1989. It is believed that 40,000 Jews lived in Libya in 1948. The
number fell to 7,000 in 1967 and today no Jews live there.

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3 Comments

  • I'm afraid it is you who have swallowed propaganda. The point was that a JEW had built a building taller than a mosque. Jews are not colonialists – they are native to the region – speak a Middle eastern language, are much more ancient than the Arabs.
    As for Israel being built on the blood of the Arabs, if the Arabs had not attacked it, no blood would have been spilt!

    Reply
  • @ Sultana – Israel has been created on the blood and tears of its Arab inhabitants whose forefathers had lived there for more than one thousand years. No amount of propaganda can conceal this fact. The truth is Jews had live outside of Palestine far longer than they had lived in it. Name us an independent Jewish-majority state in Palestine from the 7th century up until 1945. Just one. No ? Because there wasn't any.

    It is not defeat that the Arabs couldn't accept – it is colonization which is unacceptable. And that is what Israel is – colonization of an Arab land.

    As for this article, the propaganda is strong with this one. Executed for erecting a building taller than a mosque ? Really ? How many mosques in the world are actually surrounded by buildings much taller than them today ? I would say – most of them. Even the Grand Mosque in Makkah is surrounded by dozens of buildings much taller than it. Therefore, that is never an issue.

    This is just one glaring example of so many lies perpetuated by this article.

    Gubli

    Reply
  • The Arab countries just cannot accept the Six-day-war defeat.
    A handful aganst millions!
    sultana

    Reply

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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

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Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

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