Tag: Iran/Israel

Jew ‘temporarily’ released from jail after visiting Israel

In the islamic republic of Iran, just visiting Israel is a crime. Nourollah Shemian may have been sentenced to 10 years in prison, and he may be sent back there again after his ‘temporary’ release. Sickening report in The Jerusalem Post:

The notorious Evin prison

The Islamic Republic of Iran has temporarily released the 65-year-old Iranian Jew Nourollah Shemian who was imprisoned for allegedly visiting Israel, according to a Tuesday report on the Persian-language website of the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA). 

“The temporary release of Nourollah Shemian as the third recently identified Jewish individual put behind bars, is not a cause for celebration. It’s an alarm and likely indication of other Jews behind bars for similar reasons. 

Pilgrimage and visiting holy sites is a part of religious practice for many religious groups around the world, but for Iranian Jews it is evidently a cause for punishment and suffering,” Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, an Iranian in exile in the US who is the founder and director of the Alliance for Rights of All Minorities, told The Jerusalem Post.


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‘Tehran’ is latest Mossad drama to wow the Middle East

Tehran, launched on Apple TV in the US this week, is the latest of Israel’s popular spy dramas to hit TV screens  across the world. It has already been bootlegged and illegally streamed across the Middle East – including Iran. The show features a Mossad hacker smuggled in to Iran to help blow up a nuclear site. Report in the Financial Times: 

Niv Sultan stars as a Mossad hacker smuggled into Iran in Tehran

Embarrassing failures are far outweighed by the successes, including, most recently, the spiriting out of an abandoned Tehran warehouse of the entire nuclear archives of the Islamic Republic, proudly displayed on TV by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in April 2018.

The realism helps too, said Sima Shine, who kept an eye on Iran for most of her career at Mossad and the National Security Council, and watched Tehran closely when it aired in Israel. 

 “It’s good that they give a lot of credit to the security apparatus [in Iran], and they don’t show them as stupid — instead they show them as operating quite well,” she said. “We see the demonstrations by students, and the counter demonstrations, and the hidden parties of young people — we know that all these things are happening in Iran.” 

 The Iranians were equally fascinated by the drama and perturbed by inaccuracies, said Holly Dagres, an Iranian-American non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, the Washington-based think-tank.

“This is the first time a wide Israeli audience got a glimpse of their enemy, Iran, beyond the news cycle. 

This is also the first time Iranians got to see what Israelis, to an extent, think of them,” she said.

The timing helped too. “The unusual explosions must’ve added more interest in the series for both audiences as it unintentionally served as publicity for Tehran because the plot is about Israel taking out nuclear facilities.”  

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Iran sends Rosh Hashana greetings to Jews

Along with Presidents Putin and Erdogan, Iran’s Foreign Minister has sent greetings to Jews on the occasion of Rosh Hashana – the Jewish New Year. Yet Israel and Iran have clashed in Syria. A tweet from Mohammad Javad Zarif was accompanied by photos of Iranian Jews worshipping in a synagogue, underlying the assumption that Judaism is merely a religion.  The Times of Israel reports:

With one designated member of parliament, Iran’s Jewish community is
one of three officially recognized religious minorities. Armenian
Christians have two designated MPs, while Assyrian-Chaldeans and
Zoroastrians have one each.

Still, many Iranian Jews complain they are not treated equally under
the law. In July an Iranian court overturned a ban on religious
minorities standing in municipal polls.

 Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Zarif’s wishes come after a year of heightened tensions between
Jerusalem and Tehran that saw the largest ever direct clash between
Israeli and Iranian forces and Israeli agents brazenly steal Iran’s nuclear archive —
material that proves, according to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu, that the regime has lied when claiming it has not sought to
build a nuclear weapons arsenal and that it intends to resume its
pursuit of nuclear weapons when it can.

In May, some20 rockets were fired at Israeli military bases by Iranian forces from southern Syria with Israeli jets then targeting numerous Iranian-controlled sites across Syria.

The Israeli army said the initial missile barrage was carried out by
members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Forces. This
appeared to be the first time that Israel attributed an attack directly
to Iran, which generally operates through proxies.

In response, Israel launched an extensive retaliatory campaign,
striking suspected Iranian bases throughout Syria for hours following
the initial Iranian bombardment.

Senior Iranian officials have relentlessly encouraged the destruction
of Israel, and Iran finances, arms and trains terror groups on Israel’s

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also sent Rosh
Hahsanah greetings to the Jewish people and agreed to meet with Finance
Minister Moshe Kahlon after the holidays.

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 Karmel Melamed slams western media who are eager to do Iran’s bidding by portraying Iran’s Jews as happy and peaceful:

 USA Today‘s report on Iran’s Jews is both inaccurate and irresponsible (Jewish Journal)

Every so often the when the Iranian regime’s public image in the West
has taken a hit, the regime’s leadership loves to invite various Western
media outlets to Iran in order to parade members of the Jewish
community in front of them in an effort to bolster their true negative
image as an anti-Semitic repressive regime.  The regime’s Intelligence
Ministry has hand-picked leaders of the Jewish community in Iran telling
the Western reporters that Iran is a supposed a “safe and peaceful
place” for Jews to live in. Unfortunately in the past Western media
outlets such as the Guardian in England, the Forward in New York, the New York Times, CNN or NBC News
have either been naïve enough to believe and report these lies, or just
complicit in spreading them. Again such has been the case with USA
Today recently publishing an article claiming the Jews of Iran feel “safe and respected”.
As an Iranian Jewish journalist who has been covering Iranian Jewry
worldwide for nearly two decades, I feel compelled to expose USA Today’s
inaccurate and irresponsible reporting on Iran’s Jews.

Read article in full 

What is interesting here is that Al-Bawaba – an Arab-owned medium based in Jordan – is using the status of the Iranian-Jewish community as a tool to lambast the Iranian regime. 

Are Iranian Jews proud or frightened? (Al Bawaba)

 Given that he has been repeatedly re-elected by Iran’s Jewish community,
one should not dismiss Morsadegh’s words outright. But nor can his rosy
declarations of Iranian Jewish life be taken for granted. Iranian Jews
are largely left in peace by the regime because the government trusts
them not to protest. But there is justifiable suspicion that Jews keep quiet not because they don’t have grievances with the regime, but because they know that the consequences of expressing them would
be dire. At a time when Israeli-Iranian relations are best described as
hateful, it would be all too easy for ruthless parliamentarians to make
Persian Jews a target. 

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Israelis cheer football teams of Muslim countries

Israelis have been cheering the teams of their ancestral countries  in the World Cup, Al-Monitor reports:

Fans of the Iranian soccer team leaped out of their
seats cheering wildly and waving Iranian flags when Saeid Ezatolahi
thumped the ball into the back of the net in Wednesday’s World Cup game
against Spain, tying the game 1-1 and leaving Iran a chance to advance. A
moment later, groans of disappointment spread as the goal was

The scene during a televised match in a cafe in Jerusalem (photo: Ilan Ben Zion)

This scene did not take place in Tehran or at the
stadium in Kazan, Russia. It was in a bar in Jerusalem, where the fans
were mostly Israelis expressing their shock and disappointment at Iran’s

Geopolitics set aside, many Israeli Jews are rooting for Muslim
countries in this year’s World Cup, including Israel’s archrival Iran.
The Israeli national team has only competed in one World Cup, in 1970,
leaving local soccer fans to root for other teams when the quadrennial
event rolls around.

This year, Iran and four Arab states — Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco
and Egypt — are competing in the World Cup in Russia. This rare showing
of countries from the Muslim world, from which a large percentage of
Israelis immigrated in the 20th century, has prompted many in Israel to
cheer on the teams of their ancestral countries. As of 2011, Israel was
home to 141,000 Jews of Iranian descent, 492,000 Jews of Moroccan
descent, 134,000 of Tunisian and Algerian descent, and 57,000 of
Egyptian origin, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Read article in  full 

By contrast a man draped in an Israeli flag was pursued by Tunisian fans in Moscow shouting ‘Palestine’. The story that Moroccan fans tried to snatch an Israeli flag has proved false. JTA story here.

Iranian reformist defies official line on Israel

 Iranian reformist intellectual Sadegh Zibakalam (pictured) has possibly risked arrest – and worse –  by defying  the Iranian regime’s sworn objective, to destroy Israel, in this television interview. You can watch the MEMRI clip here.   (With thanks: Lily)

Iranian reformist intellectual Sadegh Zibakalam criticized the
Iranian regime on its stance on Israel, saying that by promoting calls
for the destruction of Israel, Iran was acting in violation of the U.N.
Charter. He further criticized Khamenei’s idea of a referendum on the
future of Israel, saying that it was unrealistic and furthermore, none
of Iran’s business, pointing out that Iran’s commitment to destroy
Israel was evident in its parading of long-range missiles with slogans
in Hebrew pronouncing that “Israel must be destroyed.” Zibakalam was
speaking in an interview held by the Iranian Ministry of Islamic Culture
and posted on its official YouTube account on November 13.

Zibakalam: “The UN officially recognized Israel, and Iran is a
member state. According to Article 1 of the UN charter, the UN member
states must not conduct acts of aggression against one another, and must
not wish death and destruction upon another nation.


“Iran should first withdraw from the UN before it may chant: ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Israel must be destroyed.’


“What Palestinian political movement calls for the destruction of Israel?”

Interviewer: “The Islamic Jihad and Hamas…”

Zibakalam: “Absolutely not. Hamas calls for a Palestinian state. Where does it call for Israel’s destruction?


“Most of the Palestinians who became refugees in 1948, almost 70
years ago, are already dead, and some of them emigrated to Jordan,
Armenia, or Ethiopia. There are already second- and third-generation
(Palestinians) there. Are you really suggesting holding a referendum to
determine if they should return to Palestine or not? How would they even
identify them?


“Let’s say that a referendum is held tomorrow, and the Jews return to
where they lived 70 years ago, and the Palestinians return to where
they lived 70 years ago… Let’s assume that this were possible.”

Interviewer: “Are you saying that we shouldn’t care about this?”

Zibakalam: “No that’s not what I’m saying. I’m talking about
Iran’s mission to destroy Israel, and about our declarations that we
must destroy Israel…”

Interviewer: “We are not talking about destroying Israel with an atom bomb…”

Zibakalam: “Mr. Dehbashi, don’t argue with me. Don’t say:
‘We’re talking about a referendum, not about the destruction (of
Israel). When you write on your missiles ‘ Israel must be destroyed,’
it’s no joke. These missiles have a range of 2, 000-3, 000 kilometers, so
if you launch them from here, they will definitely hit Tel Aviv. You
write ‘Israel must be destroyed’ on the missiles in Hebrew, in order to
dispel any doubts (about our intentions). Is this really talking about
human rights? Who entrusted Iran with this mission? The Arabs? Did the
Arabs say: ‘Oh Iran, we are incapable of destroying Israel, and, you
know, we Arabs love you very much, so please come and do this for us’?!
Did the Palestinians say this? Did Hamas? Did the PLO? Did the
Palestinian parliament in exile say this? Is this written in our
constitution? Was there a poll in which the Iranian people said that
Israel must be destroyed? Does Islam say this? Who said that we must
destroy Israel?!


“There is a practical reason why they do not arrest me. They say to
themselves: Why arrest him? We can just call him and tell him to shut
up, and he won’t utter another word.

Read transcript in full



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