April 23, 2019

40 Years After…Why I Still Speak Out Against the Iranian Regime

Several weeks ago an American Jewish friend of mine who is not Iranian really surprised me when he questioned why I continue to speak out and write against the current radical Islamic regime in Iran. He questioned why I continue to publicly discuss the horrors Iranian Jews have been facing at the hands of this brutal regime for the last 40 years. “I’m tired of hearing about their hostage stories and what happened to them back then… can’t we just move on?” he asked me. My answer was a simple “no.” The nightmarish hell unleashed upon Iran’s Jews at the hands of the current ayatollahs regime in Iran is something I, as an Iranian Jew, can never forget and will never stop speaking out against for as long as this brutal regime remains in power.  This is a pain that many in my Iranian Jewish community in America still carry because we had loved ones executed, we were imprisoned, we were tortured, we had our livelihoods and properties randomly confiscated by this regime in Iran all because of the “crime” of being born Jews in that country. With this same Iranian regime actively pursuing the goal of another Jewish genocide through nuclear weapons attacks on Israel, I cannot remain silent. With this regime in Iran continuously denying the Holocaust and actively supporting Holocaust deniers, I cannot remain silent. Other Jews may never fully understand the depth of our painful experiences since February of 1979, but as the first victims of this evil Iranian regime, we Iranian American Jews have a duty to educate the world about the very real dangers of this regime and stop this regime’s quest for another Jewish genocide.

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Ayatollah Khomeini landing in Iran after years of exile and establishing a radical Islamic regime in the country. His new regime lead to a very violent revolution that has not only destroyed the lives of millions of innocent Iranians but after 40 years has plunged much of the Middle East into unnecessary bloodshed. My community of Jews that has been living in Iran for 2,700 years and in 1979 was 80,000 strong, had their lives totally turned upside down when the Khomeini regime came to power in Iran. The new Islamic Sharia laws of Iran established in 1979 basically treated Jews and other religious minorities as third class citizens and with this inferior status, the regime’s leaders and thugs were permitted randomly to take lives, torture and imprison Jews, confiscate Jewish properties or businesses and to create sheer chaos for Iran’s Jews and all other non-Muslims in Iran.

My community’s real nightmare unfolded in May 1979, when Habib Elghanian, the leader of the Jewish community in Iran was tried in a 20-minute sham trial and then promptly executed by the Iranian regime for being a supposed “American and Zionist spy”. Elghanian’s random killing sparked a mass exodus of Jews from Iran who realized their situation was unsafe in a country where their community leader was randomly executed on false charges. And Elghanian’s execution was not the last. The Khomeini regime continued the random arrests, tortures and executions of Jews through the years. Frank Nikbakht, an Iranian Jewish activist and head of the Los Angeles-based “Committee for Minority Rights in Iran,” prepared a report in recent years revealing that since 1979, at least 14 Jews were murdered or assassinated by the regime’s agents. Likewise, 11 Jews have disappeared after being arrested, at least two Jews died while in custody and another 11 Jews have been officially executed by the regime. In 1999, Feizollah Mekhoubad, a 78-year-old cantor of the popular Youssef Abad synagogue in Tehran was the last Jew to have his eyes gouged out and to be officially executed by the regime. With each Jew the Iranian regime killed, thousands fled the country and still continue to flee the country. Recently in November 2012, Toobah Nehdaran, an impoverished, 57-year-old married Jewish woman was strangled, then repeatedly stabbed to death and had her body mutilated in a ritual manner by Muslim thugs who had broken into her home located in the Iranian city of Isfahan. And even as recent as December 2017, two synagogues in the southwestern Iranian city of Shiraz were vandalized by unknown assailants and a total of five Torah scrolls and numerous prayer books were damaged or totally destroyed. No investigations or arrests were ever made by the Iranian regime of Nehdaran’s brutal murder or of the attacks on the Shiraz synagogues. Sadly, for these reasons and other events through the last 40 years, my Jewish community has been uprooted or forced to leave Iran after our presence in that land for centuries.

The ancient Jewish community of Iran as of today is estimated to be between 5,000 and 8,000 people with the vast majority of Jews fleeing Iran over the decades because of the regime’s threat to their lives, the regime’s anti-Semitic laws and the lack of economic opportunities for Jews who must endure humiliation under Iran’s radical Shiite Sharia laws. Iran’s Jews, my community have mostly resettled in New York, Los Angeles and Israel. A minority have made new homes in Europe, Canada and elsewhere in the world.  My community of Iran’s Jews had to re-start new lives and start new businesses in these countries, of times with very little to no money. Fortunately, after 40 years of living in exile from Iran, we Iranian Jews have by in large done well for ourselves as far as business, academia, the arts, music, philanthropy, political involvement and yes—even in Israel advocacy.

Yet after 40 years my Iranian Jewish community is still witnessing the Iranian regime’s unrelenting war against world Jewry. The Iranian regime today not only calls for the annihilation of the only Jewish state in the world on a daily basis but is also actively pursuing nuclear weapons to achieve that goal. The Iranian regime also funds Hamas, Hezbollah and other radical Islamic terror groups to attack Israeli civilians and cause as much death and destruction as possible on them. As if the Iranian regime’s support for terrorism against Israel and Jews were not bad enough, the regime’s leaders have openly denied the Holocaust, welcomed Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis to Iran. The Iranian regime’s evil leadership has hosted countless Holocaust denial conferences and even sponsored a few Holocaust denial cartoon competitions! For example, the Iranian regime proudly announced many years ago that it paid for the legal defense in France of the late French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy, who was convicted and fined $80,000 in 1998 in France for denying the Holocaust. Garaudy was subsequently welcomed in Tehran as a hero, where he met with the Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamenei. In 2012, Khamenei publicly grieved the death of Garaudy in a personal Twitter message. Additionally, Iranian state-run media outlets have also frequently cited the writings of the neo-Nazi American leader William Pierce and welcomed the anti-Semitic commentary of former KKK leader, David Duke. In October 2014, the Anti-Defamation League reported that the regime’s annual Holocaust denial conference in Tehran hosted Maria Poumier, a French denier; Claudio Moffa, an Italian denier; and Kevin Barrett, an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist and frequent contributor to Iran’s English-language, state-run news network, Press TV.

With the past crimes and injustices this Iranian regime has committed against my Iranian Jewish community during the last 40 years, I cannot remain silent. With this Iranian regime wanting a second Holocaust of my people in Israel, I cannot and will not remain silent. With this Iranian regime denying the Holocaust repeatedly and giving a public platform for vehement anti-Semites, I cannot and will not remain silent. To my friends in the Ashkenazi communities of America, Canada and Europe, DO NOT sit idle while this evil totalitarian regime wishes to annihilate all Jews from the face of the earth. Do not fool yourselves about this regime in Iran and discount its truly demonic intentions about the Jews. Heed the warning of us Iranian Jews who were the first to suffer at the hands of Iran’s ayatollahs for the last 40 years! We already suffered an unimaginable hell and loss at the hands of Iran’s ayatollahs. As a people we have experienced a horrific loss of 6 million innocent lives from the Nazi genocide in the 20th century. Today in the 21st century we say NO MORE! We cannot as a people afford another genocidal calamity! No regime, in Iran or elsewhere has any right to seek the destruction of the Jewish people. Forty years of this radical Islamic regime in Iran is enough for world Jewry, for the Middle East and for the world! Regime change in Iran is the only hope to stop this cancer of the Ayatollah Khomeini from seeking another genocide of world Jewry. And so I will continue to speak out publicly, expose the anti-Semitism and hate of this Iranian regime in my writings and I will not cease in reminding anyone and everyone about the true evil nature of this regime in Iran today.