An overwhelming majority of Iranian Jews in the US, many of whom were driven out of Iran after the 1979 revolution, are against President Obama’s nuclear deal, according to the International Business Times.
Many in Iranian Jewish communities throughout the U.S. said their
experiences with the regime during and in the years since the Islamic
Revolution have provided them with unique insight into the current
political situation in the country. As the broader American Jewish
establishment remains split over the Iran nuclear agreement Congress is preparing to vote on next month, members of the Iranian-American Jewish community have come out overwhelmingly opposed to it.
“I look at this deal and I say, ‘Who knows better what Iranians are
like than Iranians?’,” Sassouni, an active member in her community,
said. “I live with people who have firsthand knowledge of what that
regime is like.”
Sassouni, who believes the deal is a dangerous one, is not a lone
voice in her community. In interviews with International Business Times,
numerous leaders said their community members, some of whom have not
lived in Iran for years, or ever, as well as more recent arrivals,
widely stand against the deal. They said it would legitimize an unjust
regime and pose a threat to world peace.
“Almost all of [my congregants] are against it,” said Jeremy Rosen, a
rabbi of the Persian Jewish Center, a Manhattan congregation of several
hundred mostly Iranian Jews, who is not himself Iranian. “There are of
course nuanced opinions … [but] most of them think [President
Barack] Obama is deluded in thinking that this will improve things.”
The deal reached last month between Iran, the United States and five
other world powers would see Iran commit itself to abandoning its
nuclear program in exchange for gradual relief from international
sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy. The agreement has
come under intense scrutiny by Republicans in Congress, as well as by
the Israeli government, who say Iran cannot be trusted to abide by the
Several prominent Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation
League, have heavily protested the accord. Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu has been among the deal’s most vocal critics
internationally. A recent poll, however, found 63 percent of American
Jews support the nuclear deal.
Obama has sought to convince the American public
– as well as Congress – that the agreement with Iran ultimately
will prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons and will improve
security for both the U.S. and its regional allies. He has reiterated
that the deal is built on unprecedented access for inspections of Iran’s
nuclear facilities – not trust.
But some Iranian-American Jews, many of whom continue to hold the
regime accountable for uprooting their families, are not so sure. The
U.S.’s largest Iranian Jewish organizations have come out harshly
opposed to the deal, and some synagogues and community organizations
have encouraged community members to lobby against the accord.
“We think it’s a disaster, it’s an extremely bad agreement,” said Sam
Kermanian, a senior adviser for the Iranian American Jewish Federation,
a national organization based in Los Angeles that is opposed to the
deal. “We do not believe that it will stop Iran from developing nuclear
weapons, but at the same time it gives legitimacy to a tyrannical regime
that is suppressing its own people at home and embarking on dangerous
Under the U.S.-backed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who led the country
from 1941 until his overthrow in 1979, the Jewish community of more
than 80,000 flourished in Iran. As Jews in other Middle Eastern
countries flocked to Israel between the 1940s and 1970s, Iran’s Jews
widely chose to remain. Community members recalled close ties, even
respect from Muslim neighbors and classmates.
Their success under the Shah’s regime backfired, however, when
following the 1979 revolution, young revolutionaries and the
newly installed government placed part of the blame for the Shah’s
repression and the country’s economic woes on the prosperous Jewish
Today, only about 9,000 Jews remain in Iran,
according to Iranian census data, and they keep a generally low
profile. They distance themselves from Israel, which Iranian leaders
continue to characterize as an enemy state.