Jewish Journal

Secretary of State Promotes Greater Freedom in Iran During L.A. Visit

Two local Jewish Iranians were personally praised by United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a recent gathering of close to 1,500 Southern Californian Iranian-American activists of various faiths at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.

At the invitation-only event on July 22, Pompeo took time to single out Susan Azizzadeh, president of the nonprofit, West Hollywood-based Iranian American Jewish Federation, and Makan Delrahim, the assistant attorney general for the antitrust division at the Department of Justice.

Pompeo was in town to give a speech on the U.S. administration’s support for greater individual freedoms for the people of Iran, and Azizzadeh said she and the local Iranian Jewish community members in attendance were honored to be recognized by Pompeo.

“I felt he publically acknowledged our Jewish community, which has lived in Iran for more than 2,500 years,” she said. “We, as Iranian Jews, also have a voice and claim in Iran’s future, and we want the world to know that this regime cannot destroy the Jewish heritage of Iran.”

In a teleconference three days prior to Pompeo’s visit, State Department officials said one of Pompeo’s objectives was to reach out to the roughly 250,000 Iranian Americans living in Southern California to gain greater support for the Trump administration’s strong stance on Iran.

During his speech, Pompeo said, “The goal of our efforts is to one day see Iranians in Iran enjoying the same quality of life that Iranians in America enjoy. Right now, the United States is undertaking a diplomatic and financial pressure campaign to cut off the funds that the regime uses to enrich itself and support death and destruction. We have an obligation to put maximum pressure on the regime’s ability to generate and move money and we will do so.”

“It’s more important than ever now to refute the [Iranian] regime’s lies and repeat our deep desire for friendship with the Iranian people.” — Mike Pompeo

Pompeo also specifically addressed the rampant corruption of the Iranian leadership; its 40 years of human rights abuses; and its support for worldwide terrorism. He also highlighted Iran’s long-standing persecution of minorities and its recent crackdown on thousands of peaceful protesters who earlier this year were demanding better economic conditions.

“In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny,” Pompeo said, “I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you. The United States supports you. The United States is with you.”

Pompeo also said that in the coming months the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors will launch a 24-hour Farsi-language TV channel, which also will be available in radio, digital and social media formats to Iranians in Iran and worldwide.

“It’s more important than ever now to refute the regime’s lies and repeat our deep desire for friendship with the Iranian people,” he said. “For 40 years, the Iranian people have heard from their leaders that America is the ‘Great Satan.’ We do not believe they are interested in hearing the fake news any longer.”

“A good thing for the people of Iran to know is that when Mike Pompeo stands with you, you will never stand alone,” U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in a brief statement prior to Pompeo’s remarks. “Mike Pompeo will speak plain truth to friend and foe alike.”

While a dozen anti-Donald Trump protesters held up signs outside the library, close to 100 Los Angeles-area Iranian-American activists who support the president’s hard-line position on Iran marched outside with signs supporting a change of leadership in Iran.

“Our primary desire is to see the destruction of this evil regime in Iran,” Pastor Rasoul Heidari, who heads Persian Worshippers of Christ, an Iranian church in West Hills, told the Journal.

The majority of attendees at the event echoed Heidari’s sentiment.

“[Pompeo’s] speech was great, until the end where [he] left the door open for possible negotiations with the Iranian regime,” said Roozbeh Farahanipour, co-founder of the Marze Por Gohar group based in Westwood, which opposes the current Iranian leadership. “What we fear is that this regime will ultimately sit down and negotiate with the Trump administration and somehow get a deal to still remain in power. This would be to the detriment of the people of Iran, who are tired of the mullahs ruling them and want regime change.”