As the Biden administration mulls its strategy towards the theocratic regime in Iran, it is worth recalling that the current government is viscerally antisemitic, not just anti-Israel. It has not escaped Jewish Iran-watchers that the foreign minister, Mohamed-Javad Zarif, used the word ‘Johood’ in a recent Persian-language interview analysed by MEMRI. Johood is a pejorative term – the accepted word for Jews is kalimian, (kalim=word) which connotates with ‘People of the Book’. Karmel Melamed writes in The Forward:
Iranian foreign minister Zarif: ‘bigoted’
Frank Nikbakht, an Iranian-Jewish activist, and head of the Los Angeles-based Committee for Minority Rights in Iran, said the word “Johood” in Farsi has long been very antisemitic and highly offensive to Jews.
“In the last few centuries, the term ‘Johood’ used in Iran to denote the Jews, has become a highly offensive and humiliating word akin to the ‘N’ word used against African Americans here,” said Nikbakht.
“The derogatory term ‘Johood’ is reminiscent of degradation, discrimination, even physical threat and past massacres and plunder.”
Iranian Jewish community leaders said Zarif’s use of the word ’Johood’ revealed his deep-rooted antisemitism, which he has been trying to hide over the years by falsely claiming he is only anti-Israel and not does hate Jews.
“The Iranian regime’s antisemitism continues to reach new depths, said Sam Yebri, president of 30 Years After, an Iranian Jewish non-profit group based in Los Angeles.
“By using that abominable hurtful term publicly and refusing to apologize, Foreign Minister Zarif revealed his own bigotry and gave the world a glimpse into how the regime dehumanizes all Jews, not simply Israelis.”