Persian Jews in Israel have been keeping channels open with people in Iran, as demonstrated by a Voice of America documentary series made in 2017. Now the series has been posted online. This week, i24 News reports that a delegation of American Iranians are visiting Israel to demonstrate their solidarity:(with thanks – Lily)
Amid long-standing and deepening tensions between Israel and Iran, some prominent Israelis with Persian roots have engaged in little-publicized contacts with Iran’s people and advocated for reviving the historic friendship between the two Mideast powers.
These Israelis are part of the world’s only Persian diaspora community located in a country that Iran’s Islamist rulers have banned their citizens from contacting. They spoke about their barrier-breaking conversations with Iran’s people and hopes for reconciliation as part of VOA’s Persians of Israel documentary series that was filmed in 2017 and published online Friday.
The Israelis featured in the series include veteran journalist Menashe Amir, who has been broadcasting to Iran in Farsi via radio and online for six decades; Rita, one of Israel’s most successful pop stars; Dorit Rabinyan, a novelist who has won international acclaim for writing about romances of young Persian women and a taboo-breaking Jewish-Muslim couple; and Dan Halutz, who led Israel’s military during two of its most challenging operations of the 2000s.
There are disturbing parallels between the Farhud massacre, whose 80th anniversary falls at this time, and mob violence directed against Jews in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict, writes Israel Kastnett in JNS News. ‘Remember the Farhud’is a social media initiative to raise awareness of the lessons of history:
The victims of the Farhud were buried in a mass grave
The general parallel between the Farhud pogrom and the riots of last week is unsettling.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Arab nationalists in Iraq “perceived the Baghdad Jews as Zionists or Zionist sympathizers and justified the attacks as a response to Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine.”
The Arabs claim their rioting this week is a reaction to the Arab-Jewish conflict in Sheikh Jarrah and the Temple Mount, both in Jerusalem. But it only drives home the point that anti-Semitism still exists and must be fought everywhere.
‘Double standard in application of international law, human rights’
The “Remember the Farhud” project aims to educate the public on the history of the Farhud and asks the public to light a virtual candle in memory of the 180 pogrom victims. It also asks readers to add a specially created frame to their Facebook profile in order to spread awareness of the Farhud and express solidarity with the families who mourn those who were killed during the deadly pogrom.
“The Farhud was a tragic event that sounded the death knell for the oldest Jewish Diaspora community,” said Iraqi-British Jewish businessman and philanthropist David Dangoor, the initiator of the “Remember the Farhud” initiative.
“It is vital that the Jewish world and beyond commemorate the Farhud to understand better how to deal with hate, incitement and violence, and prevent such events from happening in the present and future.”
Former Knesset member Michal Cotler-Wunsh from the Blue and White Party told JNS “what we see in Israel’s streets is actually stoked by what is happening on digital platforms utilizing anti-Semitic tropes. It is imperative for Israel to engage in discussion, to learn about and identify anti-Semitism for what it is,” she said.
“Anti-Semitism is always there and has the ability to mutate,” she said. “The point is to identify it. The imam inciting the masses in the mosque? That’s anti-Semitism.”
Here is an article in the Jerusalem Post on a similar theme by David Dangoor:
Now that the latest conflict between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza has ended, it is important to look back at one of the more wrenching and unprecedented aspects of the recent conflagration.
The attacks, lynchings and pogroms in mixed Jewish-Arab towns and cities in Israel is arguably the most worrying manifestation of the divisions in the country, and must be immediately addressed at all levels.
One of the most important elements to this is how best to understand and then combat hate, incitement and violence between communities.
For this, we can find a very sad precedent in the Farhud, the pogrom in Baghdad and Basra, which took place exactly 80 years ago, which was the beginning of the end for the Iraqi Jewish community, the oldest Jewish Diaspora.
We didn’t escape Khomeini’s Jew hatred to live with it again in LA – Times of Israel by Karmel Melamed:
For many years both my parents shared with me portions of this painful story of Berookhim’s execution and the horrific Jew hatred they face under the current Islamic Khomeini regime.
I knew it was a terrifying experience for them, but not until recently when hearing the news of three young Iranian Jews being randomly beaten by pro-Palestinian thugs on the streets of West Hollywood just for being Jewish, did my parents’ horror from Iran truly sink in for me.
This incident has shocked the Los Angeles area Iranian Jewish community and all Americans regardless of their religion, must call for the authorities to put an end to this shameful thuggery.
Sunday 9 May marked the 42nd anniversary of the execution of Iranian businessman and Jewish community leader Habib Elghanian by the Islamic Republic. Journalist Karmel Melamed, who has tirelessly raised the issue of the persecution of Iran’s Jews, had this article published by IranWire:
Habib Elghanian, executed by the Iranian regime in 1979
Both Elghanian’s vast contributions to the Iranian Jewish community and his 20-minute show trial for espionage in 1979 have been widely reported since then. But less well known are the significant contributions Elghanian made to wider Iranian society.
Many of those who worked closely with him in the business realm or philanthropy were either executed by the regime, or have long since passed away. Recently, however, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Nasser Oliaei, an Iranian Muslim businessman and former MP, about his long-time friendship with Elghanian.
Oliaei is now in his late 80s and lives in Newport Beach, California.
He worked alongside Elghanian in Iran’s National Chamber of Commerce before the fall of the Shah. Whether it was through encouraging international trade, giving to charitable causes or supporting his thousands of Iranian employees, Oliaei describes Elghanian as nothing short of a remarkable Iranian patriot.
Passover is being openly celebrated in Bahrain and in the Gulf countries, where over 100 guests attended a seder in Dubai. Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post reports, rabbis in the West have been tending to the religious needs of Jews in Muslim countries:
Matza production in Tehran
In Tehran, the matzah factory, which begins operating approximately three weeks before Passover begins, has been churning out several tons of machine-made matzah for the local community, overseen by Chief Rabbi of Tehran Rabbi Yehuda Gerami.
There are approximately 12,000 Jews in Iran, mostly in Tehran but with communities also in Shiraz, Isfahan and beyond.
In addition to the locally made matzah, some 250 kg. of “shmura matzah,” produced with greater stringency and by a more difficult process than regular matza, often used specifically on seder night, was imported into Iran from Azerbaijan.
And the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States (ARIS), an association of rabbis serving Jewish communities in 14 Muslim-majority countries, has been busy sending matzah to Jews in some of the most politically perilous places in the world, including Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and Lebanon.
In addition, the organization has sent several thousand seder boxes, including seder night essentials, to Jewish communities ahead of Passover, across the Muslim world, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, and beyond.
In Uzbekistan, Rabbi Shlomo Babaev from the capital city of Tashkent, prepared 560 bottles of wine for use at the seder and over Passover, and slaughtered 120 chickens brought to him by members of the Jewish community for consumption over the holiday.
“It is heartwarming to see how rabbis in Muslim countries are helping each other in providing logistics and assistance in transportation of matzah, to assure that every Jew is able to celebrate the holiday,” said chairman of the alliance Rabbi Mendy Chitrik.
“This year, the rabbis at the Alliance of Rabbis in Islamic States have provided Matzah and Pesach amenities to 14 ARIS member countries and to individuals in eight additional Muslim countries. The assistance of our governments in assuring that we can have our Passover religious needs cannot be overestimated.
On the Arabian peninsula, the newly established Association of Gulf Jewish Communities imported some 300 kg. of matzot for local communities in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and beyond.
There are around 1,200 Jews living in the Gulf countries, the overwhelming majority of whom are expats from around the world but they also include 50 Jews in a community dating back some 140 years in Bahrain.
The Bahraini Jewish community also produced some locally made matzah as well.
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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