June 26, 2019

Trump Threatens Iran with ‘Obliteration’ After Iran President Calls Trump ‘Mentally Retarded’

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks prior to signing an executive order establishing a White House Council on "Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing" in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 25, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Tensions between the United States and Iran continue to escalate as President Donald Trump threatened the regime with “obliteration” after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump was “mentally retarded.”

The Trump administration announced new sanctions on June 24 targeting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office and that sanctions later in the week would be placed on Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Rouhani said in a June 25 speech that the sanctions against Khamenei wouldn’t be effective because the Iranian supreme leader doesn’t have any global assets, although there is evidence to the contrary. He also argued that the Trump administration is undermining efforts to negotiate through their pending sanctions on Zarif.

“The White House actions mean it is mentally retarded,” Rouhani said.

Trump tweeted in response, “Iran’s very ignorant and insulting statement, put out today, only shows that they do not understand reality. Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration. No more John Kerry & [Barack] Obama!”

Trump told reporters later in the day that he will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, but he said he’d still be willing to enter negotiations with the Iranian regime.

“When they’re ready, they have to let us know,” Trump said. “Whatever they want to do, I’m ready.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi tweeted that the latest round of sanctions ended any chance of negotiations.

“The useless sanctioning of Islamic Revolution Supreme Leader and the commander of Iranian diplomacy means closing the doors of diplomacy by the U.S.′ desperate administration,” Mousavi wrote. “Trump’s government is annihilating all the established international mechanisms for keeping peace and security in the world.”

Also on June 25, the national security advisers for the U.S., Israel and Russia all met in Jerusalem to discuss Iran. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton called out Iran’s support for terrorism and accused the regime of continuing to develop nuclear weapons; however, he said that the door is still open for negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the summit as “unprecedented” and reiterated his declaration that Israel will ensure that Iran never obtains nuclear weapons.

Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, on the other hand, said that while Russia takes note of Israel’s security concerns, Iran fights terrorists in Syria. He also defended Iran’s claim that the downed U.S. drone on June 20 was flying over Iranian airspace; the U.S. has argued that the drone was flying in international airspace.

Report: Iran Terror Attack in France Foiled

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

A British newspaper is reporting that French authorities thwarted an Iran terror attack, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The Independent in Arabic newspaper reported that an Iranian intelligence official transferred a half ton of triacetone triperoxide (TATP) explosives on a civilian airplane that flew from Tehran to Austria in June 2018. The explosives were then transferred to an Iranian Belgian couple to take to Paris in their car; French authorities arrested the couple on their way to Paris.

The report states that “Iran frequently uses civilian aircraft and civilian airlines to transport explosives, weapons and ballistic missiles, as well as funds to Hezbollah in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world,” per the Post, constituting a violation of international aviation treaties.

President Donald Trump announced new sanctions on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office on June 24, highlighting the Iranian regime’s increasing belligerence in the region and against the United States.

“The supreme leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible of the hostile conduct of the regime,” Trump told reporters. “He’s respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

Iran funds myriad Islamic terror organizations, including Hamas, Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Iran has also had reported dealings with al-Qaeda in the past. Hezbollah, Iran’s Shia proxy, reportedly plotted a terror attack in Britain in 2015 that was ultimately thwarted.

Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Iran

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before signing an executive order aimed at requiring hospitals to be more transparent about prices before charging patients for healthcare services, at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

President Donald Trump announced new sanctions on Iran on June 24 targeting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Khamenei’s office.

According to a White House statement, the sanctions will also single out anyone Khamenei appointed to the Iranian as well as anyone who does business with Khamenei or his office.

“We call on the regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions, change its destructive behavior, respect the rights of its people, and return in good faith to the negotiating table,” Trump said in a statement.

Trump told reporters on June 24 that the sanctions were in response to “a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of U.S. drones. The supreme leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible of the hostile conduct of the regime. He’s respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that later in the week the Trump administration will impose sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Additionally, the Treasure Department announced eight Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders would be sanctioned:

Zarif responded to the new round of sanctions in a tweet accusing the Trump administration of having a “thirst for war.”

Foundation for Defense of Democracies Chief Executive Mark Dubowitz praised Trump for “targeting the massive corruption of [Khamenei].”

On June 21, Trump announced that he had called off a strike against Iran retaliating for the downed drone, saying that he didn’t like the fact that 150 people would have been killed.

Trump Called Off Iran Strikes

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands by in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

President Donald Trump announced in a series of tweets on June 21 that he called off strikes against Iran at the last second because he wanted to avoid collateral damage.

Trump explained in the tweets that the Pentagon was “cocked and loaded” to strike Iran, but he decided to back off when he was told that the strikes would result in 150 dead. Trump added that he was “in no hurry” to take military action against Iran since his administration’s sanctions against Iran are crippling the regime.

Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd that his generals didn’t immediately have the details on collateral damage from the strikes available when he asked for it.

A Trump administration official told Reuters that the strikes would have targeted Iranian radars and missile batteries, among others. The official also said that the administration urged the Iranians in a message through Oman to come to the negotiating table or else face strikes.

Tensions have been escalating between the United States and Iran, as highlighted by the recent attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and Iran shooting down an unmanned U.S. drone on Thursday. A senior Republican source on Capitol Hill told CNN, “Historically we have seen what happens when the US issues red lines and then fails to enforce them. Failing to take action could be far more dangerous in the long run.”

Bloomberg national security columnist Eli Lake noted in a June 20 Op-ed that among the U.S.’s options include authorizing strikes against Iranian commanders throughout the Middle East or against Iran’s naval facilities; the U.S. could also engage in cyberwarfare against Iran as a method of deterrence.

American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin argued that the Iranian regime could be on its last legs given the country’s languishing economy under the sanctions and the regime leaders getting older. The regime is unpopular inside Iran, but Rubin warned that the country’s civilians are “fiercely nationalistic,” which the Trump administration should keep in mind going forward.

“It is essential to maintain the pressure on Iran without playing into the hands of a regime that may want conflict,” Rubin wrote. “Let’s hope President Donald Trump is wise enough to allow his ‘maximum pressure campaign’ to work without giving authorities in Tehran either a diplomatic out or resorting to military force that will backfire in the long-term.”

Iran Shoots Down U.S. Drone

FILE PHOTO: An undated U.S. Air Force handout photo of a RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned (drone) aircraft. U.S. Air Force/Bobbi Zapka/Handout/Files via REUTERS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Iran downed a United States military drone on Thursday, adding fuel to the fire of escalating tensions between the two countries.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has claimed that they shot down the unarmed RQ-4A Global Hawk drone in Iranian airspace, while the U.S. is claiming that the drone was shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, an important waterway for oil trade.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Thursday that “Iran made a very bad mistake,” but added that he thought it was “hard to believe it was intentional. It could have been someone who was loose and stupid who did it.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif tweeted that the “drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace.” Zarif then wrote that Iran “retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.”

The White House will be meeting with congressional leaders from both parties later in the day to brief them on the situation with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his support for the U.S. in a statement.

In the last 24 hours, Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and against all of us,” Netanyahu said. “I repeat my call for all peace-loving countries to stand by the United States in its effort to stop Iranians’ aggression. Israel stands by the United States on this.”

According to the Times of Israel, senior Israeli defense officials believe that Iran’s recent belligerence stems from them thinking that Trump is averse to military conflict, and that the U.S. needs a strong military to deter Iran’s behavior.

Trump Admin Tells Congress of Iran, Al-Qaeda Ties

FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo/File Photo

The Trump administration is briefing members of Congress of the ties between Iran and al-Qaeda, The New York Times reports.

According to the Times, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and members of the Department of Defense are making the claims, arguing that the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda goes back as far right after the 9/11 terror attacks.

“There is no doubt there is a connection,” Pompeo said in an April congressional hearing. “Period. Full stop.”

Pompeo also alleged in a June 13 press conference that Iran was behind a suicide bombing earlier in the month in Afghanistan that killed four Americans; the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the Times.

The Times report cites various government officials and lawmakers who are skeptical of the Trump administration’s claim and believe that they are laying the foundation for war with Iran under the 2001 authorization use for military force against al-Qaeda in light of escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.

“They are looking to bootstrap an argument to allow the president to do what he likes without coming to Congress, and they feel the 2001 authorization will allow them to go to war with Iran,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told the Times.

In September, the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism stated that Iran continues to harbor al-Qaeda terrorists and provides “a core facilitation pipeline” for al-Qaeda to utilize. In 2017, CIA documents stated that Iran and al-Qaeda have had a working relationship since 1991, with Iran providing the Sunni terror group with resources to conduct its terrorism, even allowing al-Qaeda to utilize Hezbollah training camps. The documents also stated that Iran allowed the al-Qaeda members behind the 9/11 terror attacks to have safe passage through Iran and into the United States.

US to Send 1,000 Additional Troops to Middle East As Tensions Rise with Iran

U.S. acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan walks through the subway system at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., June 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The United States will be sending an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East while tensions increase between the U.S. and Iran, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan announced June 17.

Shanahan said in a statement that Iran’s “recent hostile power” necessitated the extra troops in the region.

The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests,” Shanahan said. “We will continue to monitor the situation diligently and make adjustments to force levels as necessary given intelligence reporting and credible threats.”

The additional troops come after the U.S. accused Iran of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13; Iran has denied involvement. The Pentagon released two photos on Monday showing Iran removing a mine from one of the tankers that hadn’t detonated and a hole on the side of the same tanker that purportedly came from a mine. The photos are evidence that Iran was behind the attack, the Pentagon argued.

Also on Monday, Iran threatened to breach the uranium enrichment limits set under the Iran nuclear deal in 10 days if Western countries don’t agree to a new nuclear deal after President Donald Trump exited from the deal in May 2018. Former International Atomic Energy Agency head Olli Heinonen estimated on June 5 that Iran could develop nuclear weapons in six-to-eight months.

The Trump administration has been ramping up sanctions against Iran, including possible sanctions cracking down on European countries’ trade with Iran.

Iran Says It Will Break Uranium Stockpile Limit Set by Nuclear Deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan June 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov

(JTA) — Iran said Monday that it will break the uranium stockpile limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal in the next 10 days.

The Atomic Energy Organization made the announcement at the Arak heavy water nuclear facility. Its spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, also said that Iran had already quadrupled its low-enriched nuclear output, the official state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Since the Trump administration pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal one year ago, Iran has pushed the limits of breaching the agreement with world powers. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union remain committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

In May, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani set a 60-day deadline for the powers to set new terms for the nuclear deal, including easing restrictions on Iran’s banking and oil sectors. Iran threatened that if the world powers failed to meet the deadline, it would remove caps on uranium enrichment levels and resume work at Arak.

Renovations have been completed on the Arak heavy water plant, which allows it to increase its capacity. In the next stage of nuclear technology development, Iran will use the extra heavy water, IRNA reported.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called on the international community to reimpose sanctions on Iran.

“Israel stands at the forefront with the U.S., with moderate Arab countries and with other countries, in opposition to the Iranian aggression. Today Iran threatened to enrich uranium to higher levels beyond that which is permitted by the nuclear agreement,” he said. “Should Iran make good on its current threats, and violate the nuclear agreement, the international community needs to immediately impose the sanctions regime that was agreed upon in advance, the ‘snapback sanctions.’ In any case, Israel will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons.”

Iran Paper Runs Anti-Semitic Cartoon of German Foreign Minister

FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

The official paper of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ran an anti-Semitic cartoon of Germany’s foreign minister on Tuesday, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The paper, called Javan, depicted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas posing with a Nazi salute while wearing Star of David-rimmed glasses and a swastika armband.

Javan also had an editorial alongside the cartoon stating that “the stinking leftovers of Nazism and fascism have manifested themselves in the spirit of the weakest Europe in history.” Maas met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran on June 10, where he urged the Iranian government to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Post, “Why such desperation by Germany to save serial liar genocide wannabe tyrants in Tehran? Time to use peaceful sanctions to stand up to tyrants and stand up for people of Iran.”

Such anti-Semitic cartoons are not uncommon in Iran. On Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2012, Iran aired cartoons depicted Jews concocting the Holocaust as a fictional tale in order to steal land from Palestinian Arabs. In 2010, Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) compiled a series of similar Holocaust-denying cartoons from the Iranian Holocartoons website.

Additionally, in 2006, The New York Times reported on the Palestinian Contemporary Art Museum in Tehran featuring images of “a Jew with a very large nose” and “the word Holocaust” on the man’s chest as part of a Holocaust cartoon-drawing contest. Other images included “a vampire wearing a big Star of David drinking the blood of Palestinians” and “[former Israeli Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon dressed in a Nazi uniform, emblazoned not with swastikas but with the Star of David.”

Iran Rescinds NYT Reporter’s Credentials

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a meeting with a group of Iranian athletes, in Tehran, Iran, June 1, 2019. Official President website/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Iran has put a temporary hold on New York Times reporter Thomas Erdbrink’s press credential, according to the Times.

Erdbrink’s credential was revoked in February; the Iranian government has told the Times that his credential will eventually be restored but has not specified when Erdbrink will be allowed to report again. Iran has also given an explanation on why Erdbrink’s credential was revoked in the first place.

The Iranian government is also blocking Erdbrink’s wife, Newsha Tavakolian, from doing her job in being a photographer for the Times. The couple currently resides in Tehran. The Times report states that they are optimistic that Erdrink and Tavakolian will eventually be allowed to resume their work.

Erdbrink has been covering Iranian issues in Tehran for the past 12 years; the past seven have been with the Times. In March 2015, Erdbrink told PBS, “Working as a Western reporter is complicated. Sometimes, I’m unpleasantly reminded of this fact, like that morning in July when my friend and colleague Jason Rezaian of The Washington Post was arrested. Nobody knows why he’s being held.” The Iranian government released Rezaian in 2016.

Erdbrink added, “Working here is like walking a tightrope, but a reporter can do much more than one might expect. There is no problem for me and a colleague to visit the Friday prayer session. If you want to know what’s going on in the minds of the religious leaders, you should come here and listen carefully.”

Tablet’s Yair Rosenberg tweeted that Iran’s treatment of Erdbrink “doesn’t just affect him; it sends a message to every other foreign reporter aimed at chilling coverage.”

According to Human Rights Watch, Iran frequently jails journalists under the auspices of “national security” and doesn’t provide them with much recourse for due process.

German Parliament Blocks Bill Barring Hezbollah

Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah display Hezbollah and Iranian flags as they listen to him via a screen during a rally marking the 11th anniversary of the end of Hezbollah's 2006 war with Israel, in the southern village of Khiam, Lebanon August 13, 2017. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

The German parliament shot down a bill on June 6 that would have fully barred Hezbollah from the country, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Currently, the German government has banned Hezbollah’s military wing, not its political wing. The German government also doesn’t designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Members of the German parliament voicing opposition to the bill claimed that dialogue was needed with the terror group rather than a full ban; some even claimed that Hezbollah was “legitimate resistance” to Israel, per the Post. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is also opposed to a full Hezbollah ban.

The Germany Jewish community had been lobbying for the ban following Dr. Felix Klein, the German Commissioner to Combat Anti-Semitism, stating that German Jews shouldn’t wear kippot publicly.

“Hezbollah is heavily financed by Iran, and Hezbollah poses, in its entirety, a threat to the entire world,” Central Council of Jews in Germany head Dr. Joseph Schuster said in May, adding that “a continuation of the distinction between their individual wings would be negligent and should therefore be corrected as soon as possible.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center tweeted on June 6, “World Jewry rejects any #German who depicts #terrorist group bent on murdering #Jews as ‘legitimate resistance.’ #Hezbollah schemes to invade #Israel-kill Jews. Today’s Germany, has moral obligation to do no harm to Jews.”

The United Kingdom fully banned Hezbollah in February. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said at the time, “It is clear the distinction between Hezbollah’s military and political wings does not exist. By proscribing Hezbollah in all its forms, the government is sending a clear signal that its destabilizing activities in the region are totally unacceptable and detrimental to the UK’s national security.”

The Israel Defense Forces have destroyed six Hezbollah tunnels since December; they believe the Shia terror group was going to use the tunnels terrorize northern Israelis. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon determined that at least three of these tunnels violated the 2006 ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel.

American Jewish Committee Transatlantic Institute Director Daniel Schwammenthal said at a May 28 panel at Wilshire Boulevard Temple School that Hezbollah uses their political wing in Lebanon to buy off public support through “welfare organizations,” which he compared to how “the mafia in Sicily provides similar services.”

According to the Post, there are around 150 Hezbollah operatives stationed in Lower Saxony, a northwestern German state.

Former IAEA Official Believes Iran Might Get Nuclear Weapon in 6-8 Months

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a meeting with a group of Iranian athletes, in Tehran, Iran, June 1, 2019. Official President website/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Deputy Olli Heinonen told Israeli Army Radio on Wednesday that Iran could develop nuclear weapons as soon as six-to-eight months, the Times of Israel reports.

Heinonen, a fellow at the Foundation of Defense Democracies think-tank, argued that Iran hadn’t been following to its end of the bargain in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal because they have been “actually weaponizing uranium enrichment without making a weapon.”

However, Heinonen criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to exit from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, arguing that Iran could “withstand a lot of sanctions” while ramping up its enrichment.

Heinonen’s prediction comes after the Jerusalem Post reported on June 4 that two German state intelligence agencies concluded that Iran has been making efforts to illicitly obtain weapons of mass destruction.

Before Trump announced the United States’ exit from the Iran deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed in a televised announcement that Iran had been concealing nuclear facilities from the IAEA. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi admitted to Iranian television in January that Iran pretended to close its Arak reactor as stipulated under the deal, but kept the reactor operational in secret.

Trump told Britain’s ITV channel on Wednesday that “there’s always a chance” that war with Iran could happen, but he prefers to hold a dialogue with the regime instead. However, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a June 4 speech in Tehran that the regime is not interested in negotiating with the Trump administration.

“They want us to be losers and put our hands up as a sign of surrender, and because we don’t do that, they threaten us,” Khamenei said. “Resistance has a cost, but the cost of surrendering to the enemy is higher.”

Recently declassified U.S. intelligence reportedly determined that Iranian terror proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah have seen a shortfall in funding from Tehran due to the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions.

Organization of American States Leader Announces Support IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

Photo courtesy of the American Jewish Committee.

Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro announced his support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism on June 4.

American Jewish Committee (AJC) Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs Co-Chair Mario Fleck and Director Dina Siegel Vann presented Almagi with the AJC Champion of Democracy during the concluding session of the AJC Global Forum in Washington, D.C.

Almagro said, “The international community has a responsibility to counter anti-Semitism and xenophobia. There is absolutely no excuse for inaction or denial.”

Almagro then said that the OAS will make the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism “the official definition of anti-Semitism for the work of the Organization of American States.” He pledged to “work every day to accomplish a [Western] Hemisphere free of anti-Semitism, free of terrorism, free of dictatorships. We must do more to educate our people to have zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism.”

Almagro also denounced the Iranian regime and its terror proxy Hezbollah.

“The cowards that attack democracy and the values of human dignity it represents have found fertile ground to operate in Cuba and Venezuela,” Almagro said. “And because evil breeds evil, and evil attracts evil, Latin American dictators in the 21st century have partnered with terrorists and anti-Semitic actors and organizations.”

AJC CEO David Harris declared, “History has been made here today at the AJC Global Forum. Secretary-General Luis Almagro is the first Latin American leader to adopt the working definition of anti-Semitism.”

France is among the countries that have reportedly adopted the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which states that criticism of Israel veers into anti-Semitism when such criticism demonizes and de-legitimizes the Jewish state. The OAS focuses on uniting the 35 countries in the Americas to collaborate on global issues.

Report: Iran Attempting to Obtain WMDs

FILE PHOTO: A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran September 27, 2017. Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi/TIMA via REUTERS

Intelligence from two German states has concluded that Iran has been making efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction, according to the Jerusalem Post.

The Post reports that the German states of Bavaria and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s intelligence have each issued reports spanning hundreds of pages on the threat of nuclear proliferation, particularly Iran. The Bavarian report stated that Iran is attempting “to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction,” which would include “atomic, biological, chemical weapons.” Iran has attempted to hide their actions through an illicit end-around of “German export controls,” according to the Post.

Similarly, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern report concluded that Iran, along with Pakistan, Syria and North Korea, are among the countries that are using their intelligence agencies to engage “in unlawful procurement activities in the field of proliferation, using globally oriented, conspiratorial business and commercial structures.”

The aforementioned intelligence reports come as President Donald Trump’s visiting the United Kingdom, where he is expected to seek help from the British government in putting pressure on Iran. The Trump administration currently sees Iran as the chief threat in the Middle East; in May 2018, Trump announced that the United States would be leaving the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Switzerland on June 2 that the U.S. would be open to a dialogue with Iran without any pre-conditions, but Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told ABC’s Martha Raddatz that Iran would only engage in a dialogue with Trump if he showed them “respect.”

Hamas Leader Says Iran Gave Them Rockets

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said during a press conference in Gaza City on May 30 that Iran gave the terror group rockets that were fired toward Israel earlier in May and threatened to launch even deadlier attacks against Israel.

Sinwar said,In the last confrontation we used some missiles that came from Iran,” referencing the Gaza rocket fire on that killed four Israelis on May 5. Sinwar added that Hamas fired an Iranian Fajr 5 rocket toward Tel Aviv.

“Without the Iranian support, the Palestinian resistance would not have achieved these capabilities,” Sinwar said. “Our nation has given up on us in the most difficult of times but Iran continues to help with knowledge and equipment.”

The Hamas leader went on to say that Tel Aviv would be struck with twice the power if Israel ever strikes Hamas again. Sinwar was speaking in honor of Al-Quds [Jerusalem] Day, which Iran and its proxies hold on the last Friday of Ramadan to support the Palestinians. Al-Quds Day in Iran typically features chants of “Death to Israel and “Death to America.”

According to Ynet News, Iran provides $100 million annually to both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with Hamas receiving $70 million and Islamic Jihad receiving $30 million. However, recently declassified intelligence revealed that Hamas has had into incur “austerity plans” due to Iran’s economic woes.

Trump: ‘If Iran Wants to Fight, That Will Be the Official End of Iran’

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the National Association of Realtors' Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, U.S., May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Donald Trump tweeted out a warning to the Iranian regime May 19 stating that it “will be the official end of Iran” if the mullahs attack the United States.

The tweet came in response to a rocket falling nearby the U.S. embassy in Iraq May 19; the rocket was purportedly launched from the East Baghdad region, where various pro-Iran terror groups reside group. The aforementioned groups have reportedly distanced themselves from the rocket launch.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Trump tweeted. “Never threaten the United States again!”

Trump followed up by tweeting Monday, “Iran will call us if and when they are ever ready. In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse – very sad for the Iranian people!”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted in response to Trump Monday that “EconomicTerrorism & genocidal taunts won’t ‘end Iran.’ NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect – it works!”

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have escalated in recent days after the U.S. deployed warships and bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to U.S. intelligence that “Iran is threatening American interests in the Middle East,” according to Politico. The U.S. has also ordered all non-essential personnel to evacuate Iraq.

Former Miss Israel’s Exhibition on Pre-Israeli State Jewish Communities

Photo by URI Karin

Before 1948, Jews lived all over the Middle East and North Africa, practicing their religion with pride but facing persecution and intermittent pogroms. Growing up in Israel, Dana Avrish, a third-generation descendant of Iranian, Lebanese and Syrian Jews, heard many stories from her family, including how Israel’s creation in 1948 spurred the expulsion of more than 850,000 Jews from Arab lands and Iran. They were granted one suitcase to carry their belongings. Their exit papers were stamped with warnings not to return. 

“Leaving Never to Return” — a nod to the exit paper stamps — is Avrich’s exhibition currently on display at Tel Aviv’s Eretz Israel Museum and dedicated to the stories of those communities. Avrish, a former Miss Israel, opened the exhibition in February and has filled it with newspaper clippings, photos, documents and other artifacts that breathe new life into a forgotten past. The exhibit describes Jewish life in places where it’s practically nonexistent today. It highlights the communities of 10 countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, LibyaEgyptYemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The Journal caught up with Avrish to discuss her exhaustive research efforts, reactions she’s getting from museum visitors and her plans to take the exhibit global. 

Jewish Journal: Why is this exhibition so important to you? 

Dana Avrish: Growing up, I heard a lot of stories from my father. I knew people ran away from different countries, ran for their lives, but it never occurred to me to investigate what really happened. I believe it’s a history that’s missing from the educational system throughout the world. Nobody is talking about the fact that almost 1 million Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran were tossed out of their homelands. I wanted to have justice brought into this.

Suitcases, installation; Creator: Dana Avrish Photo by Uri Karin

JJ: How did the exhibition initially take shape? 

DA: While doing my master’s degree at Tel Aviv University in diplomacy and international relations, I took a few courses about the media’s leaving this out of history. I started to investigate it. I knew I must do something and do outreach on this subject to get it out to as many people as possible and focus on telling these stories. 

JJ: How did you obtain all the artifacts for the exhibition? 

DA: It started with a lot of research by myself. I was asking for the support of the Ministry of Culture and I explained the conceptual idea. I received their support once I convinced them of the importance of the project. Then there were the different archives in Israel. I was in contact [also] with people in Paris, Tunisia and elsewhere. I started to search for objects that [would] tell a story. 

JJ: How long did your research take?

DA: It took me around three years: finding photos, testimonials and all the other objects you see.  

JJ: How did creating the exhibit connect you with your own background? 

DA: My mother is Persian and my father’s family is from Lebanon and Syria. It was an amazing experience for me. It took me inside the world of my ancestors. I got very emotional. I came to understand there were really so many stories that I need to tell people about. I started to talk more with my uncles, and they told me lots of stories in more detail. In the exhibition, I tell the story of my grandmother in Lebanon. 

Chess set, Cairo, Egypt, 1969: Wood, inlaid mother-of-pearl, carved ivory; Courtesy of Ovadia Yeroushalmy Photo by Hadar Saifan

JJ: The exhibition also has information about day-to-day persecution, pogroms and violent riots against Jewish communities. But there’s also a lot that depicts Jewry in these places as thriving and living cosmopolitan lives. Why was that duality important to you? 

DA: It was so important to show not just one side. There’s never only one side. If you want to change history, you can say everything was amazing, but for me it was important to show both sides. I wanted to give people the ability to see the whole picture. 

JJ: Many people group the Mizrahim together. Does that bother you? 

DA: When the State of Israel was born as a new nation, the idea was to make them all Sabras — Israelis. But, in many ways, that was to erase the pasts of many. People were changing names, even. The attitude toward so many of them was miserable. This is more than half of the population in Israel now. It’s a huge community, and to not recognize their origins, their rituals, their stories and their backgrounds is wrong. 

JJ: It’s cool to see the differences of each community. 

DA: It’s amazing how different they all are. The differentiation is a beautiful thing. This is my aim, to empower these communities and the people inside them. You need to be proud if you or your family are from Iraq, Algeria, Egypt or Libya. In the exhibition, I hope I’m really lighting the beauty of each community. 

JJ: You’ve had guests view the exhibition who are actually in the photos. What’s that like for you to see? 

DA: They are crying. They are so moved. They are thanking me. I have letters from them and emails. They are writing in the guest book: “Thank you so much — you don’t believe what you’re doing for us, our mother, our grandmother.” On the opening day, 700 people were there. People were hugging. It’s really unbelievable to see it. One person told me I brought a small piece of home back to their daily life. 

Kamancheh, musical instrument, Iran, 20th century; Walnut or mulberry wood coated in sheepskin, metal strings; Courtesy of Menashe Sasson; Photo by Hadar Saifan

JJ: Where is the exhibition off to next? 

DA: I’m really working on having this become a permanent exhibit here in Israel. But for sure it needs to be in Jewish museums around the world. It needs to be in Brazil, in Argentina, in the United States. It needs to be in New York, in Los Angeles, in San Francisco. It’s a chapter in history that vanished. We need to correct the historical injustice. I’m trying to do it now. I’m doing it. I hope people will hop on the train.  

 “Leaving Never to Return” is on display at Tel Aviv’s Eretz Israel Museum through July 31. 

Former Israeli National Security Adviser Discusses Islamic Jihad, Gaza Options

Streaks of light are pictured as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, as seen from Israel May 5, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Yaakov Amidror, former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) general and national security adviser for the Israeli government, discussed the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and how the Israeli government should response to the recent rocket attacks in a phone call Tuesday with reporters.

Amidror told Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) President and CEO Michael Makovsky during the call that Hamas and the PIJ are the main terror organizations in the Gaza Strip; they both teamed up to fire rockets against Israelis over the weekend after a PIJ sniper fired at IDF troops on May 3. Hamas is the “Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood” and is “stronger” than the PIJ. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has political responsibilities, while the PIJ is a “pure military terrorist organization,” Amidror said.

He described the relationship between Hamas and the PIJ as a “big brother-little brother” relationship. The PIJ is “more extreme” than Hamas, but Hamas has little interest in curbing the PIJ’s extremism because they don’t want to be seen as cooperating with Israel, Amidror argued.

Amidror speculated that the PIJ sniper incident that triggered the most recent violence was either due to an undisciplined PIJ member or a way to advance the Iranian regime’s interests.

“I don’t have proof for that but my assessment is that the Iranians’ interested will be the basis of this,” Amidror said, arguing that the Gaza rockets could result in forcing Israel to reallocate its resources from curbing Iran and Hezbollah in Syria toward Gaza. Iran funds both Hamas and the PIJ.

On the matter of if the Israeli government should work to completely eradicate Hamas from Gaza, Amidror said, “It can be done, but it would be a very costly war.” He pointed out that Gaza is “densely populated” and that Hamas has a vast network of underground tunnels. “We don’t have good information” on the extent of those tunnels, Amidror said.

If Israel removes Hamas from Gaza and then retreats, there’s a risk that Islamic terror groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS or the PIJ could take over Gaza. Therefore, Amidror argued, the Israeli government would have to rebuild Gaza.

“Israeli will have to take care for two million Palestinians in the most dense area in the Middle East,” Amidror said. “We will have to provide them everything.”

He speculated that it could take four years for the Israeli government clean up Gaza after a potential war, at which point Gaza would likely resemble the West Bank today.

The best way for the Israeli government to respond is to target Hamas’ weapons capabilities so Hamas knows it’s in their “best interests” not to attack, Amidror said.

Trump Administration Offers $10 Million for Information That Would Disrupt Hezbollah Cash Flow

FILE PHOTO: A supporter of Lebanon's Hezbollah gestures as he holds a Hezbollah flag in Marjayoun, Lebanon May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Trump administration is offering up to $10 million for information that would disrupt Hezbollah’s financing.

The State Department posted the reward on Monday, listing some ways to get the money: providing the names of donors to the Lebanese terrorist militia; Hezbollah-owned businesses and front companies; the names of brokers who facilitate Hezbollah transactions; and criminal schemes run by Hezbollah.

The reward notice comes as the Trump administration is ramping up pressure on Hezbollah’s main sponsor, Iran. Also Monday, the administration announced that next month it would end sanctions waivers for five major buyers of Iran’s oil: China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey.

That policy, aimed at reducing Iran’s oil exports to zero, is likely to frustrate U.S. allies that counsel a carrot-and-stick approach with Iran, but it earned the praise of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said in a statement that it was “of great importance in increasing the pressure on the Iranian terrorist regime.”

The Trump administration wants Iran to kill entirely its nuclear program, as well as end its backing for terrorism and interventions in neighboring conflicts. Of particular concern is the support that Iran and Hezbollah have lent the Assad regime in Syria, where an 8-year civil war is winding down. Israel wants Iran and Hezbollah removed from Syria.

In announcing the suspension of the oil sanctions waivers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said squeezing Hezbollah dry was one of the administration’s main aims in its ongoing policy of targeting Iran with economic pressure.

“We have watched Iran have diminished power as a result of our campaign,” he said. “Their capacity to wreak harm around the world is absolutely clearly diminished. I talked about it with respect to Hezbollah not being able to make payroll in a timely fashion.”

Q&A: Iranian Activist Parchizadeh discusses political fallout from floods in Iran

Dr. Reza Parchizadeh is an Iranian-born political theorist and anti-Iranian regime activist based in Pennsylvania who in recent years has been among the vocal voices of young Iranian Americans exposing the corruption, incompetence, unhinged cruelty and sponsorship of terrorism by the current Iranian regime. Last year, Parchizadeh, who is also director of an online think tank promoting regime change in Iran, circulated a letter of appreciation to President Trump thanking him for his powerful No Ruz message to the people of Iran. The letter was signed by 120 Iranian and non-Iranian American journalists, scholars, political activists and others who oppose the current Iranian regime and submitted to the White House.

In recent weeks horrendous storms and floods striking many cities and villages through Iran have killed hundreds, injured hundreds, left thousands homeless and without the basic necessities of survival. This horrific natural disaster and the Iranian regime’s total failure to help the victims of the flood has received little to no press in western media outlets. I recently sat down with Parchizadeh to discuss the impact of the floods in Iran as well as the incompetence and the neglect of the regime in helping the people suffering after this disaster. He also shed light on other pressing issues related to the Iran Deal and other Middle East policy issues. The following is a portion of my conversation with him…

Can you please share with us the nature of this disastrous flood that has stricken the Iranian city of Shiraz recent and extent of damages as well as loss of life as of today?

Devastating floods have overwhelmed vast regions in various provinces across Iran such as Golestan, Mazandaran and Semnan to the north, Khuzestan and Fars to the south, Kermanshah, Ilam, Lorestan and Kohkilouyeh and Boyer-Ahmad to the west, as well as the capital city of Tehran. According to the official Iranian sources, so far many places, including historical and cultural sites, have been either damaged or destroyed, and over 60 people and close to 5,000 heads of cattle have lost their lives. However, given the fact that the regime’s sources never announce the real figures due to political reasons, we can’t know for sure whether these numbers are correct or not. Unofficial accounts talk of thousands of casualties so far. The case of Lorestan, where complete towns and villages were wiped out by the floods, has proved to be the most tragic so far.

Why hasn’t the regime’s authorities done anything to help the victims in what looks to be a humanitarian crisis?

The authorities put most of the military and the civil sector on the alert. The regime particularly exploited the occasion to showcase the Revolutionary Guards as the saviors of the people. The Guards blew up a couple of locations across the country to divert the flow of the flood, which only aggravated the situation. In that regard, there can be seen a strange pattern of behavior. It looks like the regime not only does not try to rectify the situation, but also takes measures to actively exacerbate it. Like, they opened the floodgates on major dams across the country, and they did not call out for international humanitarian aid. This can have political purposes. On the one hand, the regime breaks the back of the already-stricken and discontented populace so that they won’t be able to rise against it; on the other, it will blame the humanitarian disaster on the West, especially the United States, for the sanctions.

In your opinion how could have the regime’s authorities have prevented such a horrific loss of life and property as a result of the floods in Iran?

The present disaster is a manifest outcome of forty years of the Islamist regime’s misrule and mismanagement of Iran. For instance, the regime would only green-light projects that were meant to fill the coffers of the regime’s elites and affiliates across Iran instead of developing the country and contributing to public welfare. Add to that the capital that the regime spends overseas on war, sectarianism, terrorism, and export of ideology and revolution. As I have said elsewhere, “Rather than being a form of national government in a traditional sense, the Islamic Republic is a religious-military cult that regards Iran only as a source of capital and occasionally manpower to advance its goal of an Islamist global revolution.” Simply put, in the span of four decades the regime has been continuously depleting Iran as a non-renewable resource. We are clearly witnessing the cataclysmic outcome now.

How are average Iranians in other parts of Iran stepping up to help their countrymen in the flood areas during this crisis despite the Iranian regime’s lack of support for the people suffering?

Unfortunately, as the floods coincided with Nowruz – the Persian New Year, popular help was at its lowest. That is because people usually go on a vacation during Nowruz. As such, many of those who could have helped were themselves caught in the floods. Nevertheless, according to the Red Crescent of Iran, the popular donations have exceeded that of the government budget with regard to flood relief: people across the country donated nearly 4 million dollars while the government only allocated 3 million dollars. Iranians abroad also eagerly want to help, but they are concerned they might inadvertently violate the sanctions on the regime. As such, they have been calling to the Red Cross and the Red Crescent to come up with viable ways to convey aid to the afflicted people in Iran.

As you know the Iranian regime has been calling for Israel’s destruction for 40 years and supporting terrorist who wish to destroy Israel for 40 years. To what extent do you believe Israel would be able to help average Iranians during this natural disaster if a democratic and free government were in power in Iran today?

Israel has one of the most efficient water management systems in the world. In an article I wrote for The Times of Israel last year, whose English version later appeared in Kayhan London, I explained how far back the cooperation between the two nations on the issue of water management goes. Before the Islamists took over in Iran in 1979, Israelis had long been helping Iranians with regard to water management and water distribution. I am sure if there were friendly relationships between the two countries now, Israel could help a great deal with preventing the flood in Iran in the first place.

John Kerry and members of Obama’s administration in 2015 were saying that the Iran Deal would help “open up” Iran to the world and give the Iranian regime money to re-build their country and infrastructure, schools. hospitals, etc. Has this really happened or was this just the Obama administration selling the America public lies about the regime in Tehran?

Israel has one of the most efficient water management systems in the world. In an article I wrote for The Times of Israel last year, whose English version later appeared in Kayhan London, I explained how far back the cooperation between the two nations on the issue of water management goes. Before the Islamists took over in Iran in 1979, Israelis had long been helping Iranians with regard to water management and water distribution. I am sure if there were friendly relationships between the two countries now, Israel could help a great deal with preventing the flood in Iran in the first place.

Aside from U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and President Trump who have directly addressed the people of Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has been the only other world leader directly speaking to the people of Iran and offering a hand in friendship. In your opinion how effective has his direct online video statements to the people of Iran been and what response have you heard from average folks in Iran who have seen the videos?

Bibi’s messages have indeed had a wonderful effect. Average Iranian’s don’t share the Islamist regime’s anti-Semitism and ideological antipathy towards Israel. The deep historical and cultural ties between the two nations are still there. However, patriotic Iranians have always been concerned about the fact that in the clash between Israel and the Islamist regime, the territorial integrity of their beloved homeland might be threatened by Israel. That has made it extremely difficult for Iranian dissidents to support Israel in her fight against the regime in Tehran. However, Bibi has greatly managed to dispel that concern through his direct messages of goodwill to the people of Iran. As such, I will say Bibi has been able to effect a major coup in public relations between Israel and Iran. My only concern is that his messages have become less frequent recently. Iranian people would like to hear more from him.

You are not Jewish, so what response as an Iranian do you offer the vast majority of America’s Jews who were supportive of the Obama administration’s 2015 Iran Deal and even today still continue to support Democratic presidential candidates who want America to re-join the Iran Deal if President Trump is not re-elected? Why was the deal a mistake?

My message to them is that if they are concerned about peace, democracy, human rights and the Iranian people, they must be extremely wary of any deals with the regime, as it will only utilize the deal to augment violence and destruction. The apocalyptic Islamist regime in Iran will never become normalized, as its normalization will seal its fate and prove its doom. If American Jews are sympathetic towards the afflicted people of Iran, they need to consider supporting regime change and installing democracy in Iran. President Trump looks like he wants that, and that is why most Iranians are fond of him and support him. The Islamist regime is falling in any case. If anyone wants the gratefulness, appreciation and friendship of the future Iran, now is the time for them to support the people’s cause by loudly calling for regime change in Iran.

In your honest opinion do you foresee the people of Iran rising up anytime soon to overthrow this regime in Iran which has been brutalizing them?

The people of Iran have been protesting against the regime since day one. I myself participated in two major uprisings in 1999 and 2009 when I was still in Iran. For the first I was arrested, beaten up and expelled from university; for the second I was banned from perusing my doctoral studies at University of Tehran. As I have said somewhere else, the security apparatus of the regime is tightly monitoring all the movements inside the country. Any movement with the intention of regime change, or even making any kind of meaningful change, will be harshly crushed. Honestly, the beleaguered people of Iran are in desperate need of international intervention. We would not want to repeat the disastrous experience of Syria by pushing the people towards blind uprisings while there is no solid international support. As I have always said, the most certain and viable form of intervention is that a US-led military coalition topples the regime and helps the people to install a democracy in Iran.

How receptive do you think younger average Iranians will be in the future when it comes to Iran having relations or trade with Israel if there is regime change in Iran? Or will there still be hesitancy on their part to interact with Israelis?

The majority of the people will be absolutely positive. They love Israel. Remember the deep historical and biblical ties, like Cyrus the Great liberating the exiled Jews from the Babylonian captivity and helping them to rebuild their community and holy places. Before Israel was founded, Iran housed the largest Jewish population in the Middle East. And even after many Jews immigrated to Israel, Iran still houses the second largest Jewish community in the region. I would very much like to conclude our conversation with an anecdote. The other day I was watching a video clip of an Iranian-Israeli restaurant owner in Tel Aviv who had meticulously reconstructed everything in his restaurant to look like Iran. He had immigrated to Israel when he was a teen. And he was proud of being an Israeli citizen and happy to have a prosperous life and business there. However, he said he always felt a void somewhere deep in his heart, which he thought should someday be filled with the smell and taste of Iran. I can tell you many Iranians in and out of Iran share that feeling. And that is what will eventually bring them together again, no matter where they are in the world.

Trump Admin Designates Iranian Guard As Terror Organization

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., April 6, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The Trump administration designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terror Organization on April 8.

President Trump made the announcement in a statement that read,This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft. The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”

Trump added that the designation “sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences.”

“We will continue to increase financial pressure and raise the costs on the Iranian regime for its support of terrorist activity until it abandons its malign and outlaw behavior,” Trump said.

Those that conduct business with the IRGC could now be prosecuted for under charges of supporting a terror organization, according to National Public Radio.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters at the State Department on Monday “that the IRGC amounts to a significant amount of the Iranian economy through pure kleptocracy,” meaning that “businesses and banks around the world now have a clear duty to ensure that companies with which they conduct transactions are not connected to the IRGC in any material way.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the move in a tweet, writing that Trump is “keeping the world safe from Iran aggression and terrorism.”

David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement, “Recognition of the IRGC as a key arm of Iran’s global terrorism strategy is vitally important to the U.S., which first designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984. We applaud President Trump for taking this highly significant step.”

The Iranian parliament said they’re planning on retaliating by labeling the United States military a terrorist organization.

The IRGC is responsible for the deaths of more than 600 Americans during the Iraq War – which violated a truce at the time between the U.S. and Iran – and has been involved in terror attacks such as the 1983 bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed 241 Americans.

Three Antique Torahs Stolen from Synagogue in Tehran’s Jewish Ghetto

Sefer torahs at ezra yagoub synagogue. Photos by 7dorim.com

Iranian Jewish community leaders in the U.S. have confirmed reports that on Feb. 28 three antique Torah scrolls were stolen by unknown thieves from the centuries-old Ezra Yagoub synagogue located inside Tehran’s Jewish ghetto.

While the Iranian regime has not launched any official investigation into the incident and state-run media outlets have not reported on it, a statement released by the Los Angeles-based Iranian American Jewish Federation (IAJF) indicated that their organization is unaware of any specific motive behind the theft of the Torahs.

“The Iranian American Jewish Federation is deeply concerned and anxious about this incident and will be looking closely to learn the results of the investigation by the authorities and the law enforcement,” stated Susan Azizzadeh, president of the IAJF in the statement.

Shahram Yaghoubzadeh, chairman of the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York, said his group “hopes that the governmental authorities in Tehran will do the right thing and use their vast intelligence and power to ensure the apprehension of the perpetrators and return of these sacred scrolls to the synagogue”.

The modest synagogue which is a little more than 500 square feet was established 125 years ago after an affluent Jewish merchant Ezra Yagoub bequeath funds for the formation of the synagogue at his deathbed. Likewise, the synagogue’s Torah scrolls are from the same time period and encased in ornate wood and metallic cases with metallic ornaments on top called “rimonim”.

According to Habib Levy’s book “Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora” (Mazda Publishing, 1999), during the 1930s the Ezra Yagoub synagogue briefly housed Jews who had fled Afghanistan and the Iranian city of Mashhad when travel in route to make Israel their final home. Iranian Jewish activists in Los Angeles said the synagogue also temporarily housed Jews who had fled Nazi-controlled Poland during WWII.

Additionally, Iranian Jews in Los Angeles and New York said the synagogue was in full use up until 60 years ago when Jews gained great freedoms as well as wealth which prompted them to moved out of the Tehran’s Jewish ghetto during the Pahlavi dynasty. Since that time and until today the synagogue has been maintained by members of the Tehran Jewish Committee as a historic Jewish site.

Iranian Jewish leaders in L.A. said in recent years, Parviz Yeshaya, the former national chairman of the Jewish Council in Iran, has only kept the synagogue open for Saturday services for small groups of Jews visiting Tehran from other Iranian cities.

Outside ezra yagoub synagogue. Photos by 7dorim.com

Prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution, nearly 80,000 Jews lived in Iran and thousands during the last 40 years have left or escaped the country due to threats to their lives as well as bias laws against religious minorities living in Iran.

Leaders in Iranian Jewish communities in Southern California and New York have remained mostly quiet about the theft of the three antique Torahs for fear that what they say may be used as an excuse by the Iranian regime to retaliate against the estimated 5,000 to 8,000 Jews still living there.

Yet individual Iranian American Jewish activists said they are speaking out against the regime. Activists maintain that the Iranian regime’s officials have repeatedly claimed to be tolerant and benevolent to Iran’s Jews to Western news media outlets, but in reality, have turned a blind eye to recent incidents of vandalism of Jewish sites in Iran and appropriation of historic Jewish burial grounds throughout Iran.

“The condition of the Iranian Jewish community should also be watched carefully and incidents like this should not be taken lightly”, said George Haroonian, an Iranian Jewish activist based in Los Angeles.

Haroonian said many Iranian Jews in America are concerned that their brethren in Iran are in danger because of the escalating conflict between Israel and Iran’s terrorist proxies in the region.

“With the worsening of the political situation between Israel and Iran– such as in Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, our community is an easy target for direct or indirect attacks and harassment,” Haroonian said. “The regime and its adherents may extract revenge on Iran’s Jews for the losses of the regime in Syria”.

The theft of the Torahs from the Ezra Yagoub synagogue is just the latest incident against Iran’s Jewish community. In late December 2017 two synagogues located in the southwestern Iranian city of Shiraz were vandalized by unknown assailants who left a total of five Torah scrolls and numerous prayer books damaged or totally destroyed. Likewise, Tsedaka charity boxes were also stolen from the synagogues. The incident was never investigated by the regime’s authorities and no arrests were made in connection with the crime.

Inside ezra yagoub synagogue. Photo by 7dorim.com

Moreover, in November 2012, Toobah Nehdaran, a 57-year-old married Jewish woman, was strangled, then repeatedly stabbed to death, and her body was mutilated in a ritual manner by thugs who had broken into her home located inside the Jewish ghetto within the Iranian city of Isfahan. Nehdaran’s gruesome murder was never investigated by Iranian authorities and suspects were never arrested in connection with her murder.

Also in January 2011, the Iranian student Basiji militia, of the Abu-Ali Sina/Avicenna University in the western Iranian province of Hamadan rioted outside the entrance of the Esther and Mordechai tomb and threatened to destroy it if Israel destroyed the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. The Iranian state-run media news reported at that time that Basiji militia had removed the mausoleum’s entrance sign, covered the Star of David at the mausoleum’s entrance with a welded metal cover and demanded the site be placed under the supervision of the local Islamic religious authority. In the end the tombs, were not damaged nor destroyed.

Calls for comment to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in New York were not returned.

Iran Gets Seat on U.N. Women’s Rights Committee

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with Muslim leaders and scholars in Hyderabad, India, February 15, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

The United Nations announced on March 13 that Iran will get a seat on the U.N. Women’s Rights Committee.

U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer shared the announcement on Twitter:

Neuer also pointed out that Iran adds to a growing number of anti-Israel countries on the committee:

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), women face myriad restrictions on freedom in Iran, including that they “cannot pass on their nationality to their foreign-born spouses or their children like men.”

“A married woman may not obtain a passport or travel outside the country without the written permission of her husband Under the civil code,” the HRW report adds. “A husband is accorded the right to choose the place of living and can prevent his wife from having certain occupations if he deems them against ‘family values.’”

The report also notes that the Iranian regime has sentenced several women to prison for as long as 20 years because they removed their hijabs during anti-regime protests in December 2017 and January 2018. The regime forces Iranian women to wear hijabs in public.

H/T: Washington Free Beacon

Iranian Foreign Minister Announces Resignation

FILE PHOTO: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq January 13, 2019. REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily/File Photo

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that he is resigning from his position.

In a Feb. 25 Instagram post, Zarif said he is “very grateful to the gracious love of the dear and courageous people of Iran for the last 67 months.”

“I am apologizing to you for all the shortcomings in the past years during my time as foreign minister,” Zarif said. “I thank the Iranian nation and officials.”

According to Axios, the Iranian Foreign Ministry confirmed Zarif’s resignation. However, NBC News reported that it is not yet known if Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will accept Zarif’s resignation.

ABC News said Zarif’s announcement came “without warning,” and there has been no further information beyond Zarif’s Instagram post.

Zarif was a key player in forging the Iran nuclear deal, which the United States pulled out of in May. Prior to serving as  foreign minister, Zarif was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2002-2007.

Why Is Israel’s Foreign Minister Attacking Poland After Their Stand Against Iran?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, alongside Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sept. 4, 2016. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90

Just a week ago, I penned a column extolling the miraculous effect of witnessing a conference against Iran – co-hosted by the United States and Poland – take place on the very streets of Warsaw, whose ghetto has become synonymous with the Nazi Holocaust. In our generation, too, yet another evil enemy of the Jews has stood up with plans to annihilate them. Having personally heard Vice President Mike Pence declare Iranian intentions to enact a “new Holocaust” before delegates from across Europe and the Arab world — whose own leaders have not shied away from drawing on the obvious parallels between Ayatollah Khamenei and their Nazi forbearers — I felt that, at last, the world might finally have understood that threats leveled against the Jewish people are not to be ignored.

That day wouldn’t pass before its cathartic effect was interrupted; now, by a small scandal that erupted from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s supposed remarks reported by the Jerusalem Post that “the Poles cooperated with the Nazis.”

These were not the prime minister’s words. What he did say was that “a not insignificant number of Poles had cooperated with the Nazis,” which means something entirely different. The Jerusalem Post corrected their story and the prime minister’s office released a statement reaffirming that “PM Netanyahu spoke of Poles and not the Polish people or the country of Poland.”

Still, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki chose to cancel his trip to Israel this week to the Visegrad Group summit of Central European powers, set to be hosted in Jerusalem, dispatching his foreign minister instead.

Despite a brief, heated exchange between the foreign offices of Poland and Israel, it seemed the scandal would be short lived and that we could resume the pursuit of our shared and stated goals of countering Iran and deepening bilateral ties between our nations. However, just as the tension began to subside, Israel’s brand new foreign minister Israel Katz — halfway through his first day on the job — decided to chime in with a diplomatic bombshell of his own.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Katz declared that “Poles collaborated with the Nazis, definitely. Collaborated with the Nazis.” However, Katz would take things further, quoting the words of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir who said that Poles “suckled anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.” He ended with his own observation that “[one] cannot sugarcoat this history.”

The words had barely left his mouth when Poland announced their intentions to withhold the visit by their foreign minister, too, which has since led to the cancellation of the entire Visegrad Group summit.

To be sure, the issue of Polish complicity in the Holocaust needs to be properly addressed in its full historical context. After all, this is an exceptionally sensitive issue, one better defined by nuance and exception than by broad generalizations and oversimplification.

On the one hand, few doubt the centuries of anti-Semitism in Poland, fueled as it was by a Catholic Church that saw Jews as deicides (this was prior to the radical revamping of Catholic attitudes toward Judaism undertaken by the greatest Pole of the 20th century, and the greatest of all Popes, John Paul II). Few, too, dispute the fact that tens of thousands of Poles abetted the Nazi slaughter of their nation’s three million Jews, with Holocaust researchers having collected significant evidence of a large swath of Polish villagers who murdered Jews fleeing the Nazis, as well as the existence of Polish blackmailers who saw in Jewish helplessness an opportunity for financial gain. The Poles’ very own Underground State’s wartime Special Courts investigated 17,000 Poles who collaborated with the Germans, sentencing about 3,500 to death. The devastating Kielce pogrom of July 4, 1946 — in which Polish villagers massacred 42 Jews returning from Nazi camps — all but confirmed the presence of deep-seated anti-Semitism among many Poles, as did the efficacy of the anti-Semitic persecutions set into motion by Soviet-backed Polish minister of the interior General Mieczysław Moczar in March of 1968, which spurred the mass emigration of what was left of Poland’s Jewish community.

However, all of that is only a part of the story. There is another that puts forth a picture of a nation that fought bitterly against the Nazi beast and had many citizens take great risks to save Jewish lives and suffered brutally at the hands of the Germans as a result of both.

From the moment the Nazis invaded Poland at 5 a.m, am on September 1, 1939, the Poles fought back. They were no match for the Germans and, within weeks, their country fell. Even so, the Poles never established a collaborative government with the Nazis in the way that France, Hungary, Norway and even Belgium did. Even the Soviets, whom we credit with the liberation of the worst Nazi camps, willingly cooperated with Hitler far more than Poland did (the invasion of Poland, of course, being the best example.) The government of Poland never even surrendered to the Germans, choosing instead to evacuate their government and armed forces via Romania and Hungary to allied France and England, where they continued to direct an allied Polish resistance force known as the Home Army. The Polish government in exile even had Jewish members, the most famous being Szmul Zygielbojm, who committed suicide in London after the fall of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in order to protest the Allies’ reluctance to intervene on behalf of the hapless revolt. Another renowned member of this government was the non-Jewish Jan Karski, who stood at the forefront of Polish efforts to inform the global community of the atrocities being committed against his country’s Jewish community (he would later be made an honorary citizen of Israel.) The Polish Foreign Minister Count Edward Raczyński, too, used Karski’s work to provide the Allies with one of the earliest and most accurate accounts of the Holocaust.

Clearly, there’s more to the story than either side of this political debate currently claim. My own grandfather moved to the United States from Poland about 1905, and often lamented the anti-Semitism he faced on a regular basis. Shamir’s own father was murdered by Polish villagers outside his hometown after jumping from a Nazi transport. Still, to equate actions like these with the industrialized slaughter of the Holocaust is both inaccurate and unjust. Worse, it shifts the blame away the German people who singularly planned, manned, and implemented the mass-killing of European Jewry. For a foreign minister of the Jewish State, sophisticated historical insight and diplomatic sensitivity must outweigh popular sentiment and emotion in delivering the Israeli government’s understanding of issues like these. His words were certainly not a great way to kick-off his appointment as the chief foreign diplomat of the Jewish State.

Besides the question of content, there is also that of timing. Why would an Israeli official choose to attack Poland just four days after they stood with the Jewish state against Iran? Placing itself at odds with the entire EU, the small Eastern European nation chose to host the State Department’s conference primed to enlist global support in reenacting critical sanctions against Iran. They did this even as England, France and — outrageously — Germany plot to undermine President Trump’s courageous decision to leave the Iran deal and punish the Mullahs for their promise to enact a holocaust of their own.

If this doesn’t bespeak a positive offer of friendship, I’m not sure what does.


Rabbi Shmuley Boteach “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the international bestselling author of 32 books, including his most recent, “The Israel Warrior.” He served as rabbi at Oxford University for 11 years and won The London Times Preacher of the Year Competition. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

Netanyahu: Arab Leaders Will Ally With Us Over Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem February 10, 2019. Gali Tibbon/Pool via REUTERS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Feb. 14 that Arab leaders are going to ally with Israel because they view Iran as a bigger threat to them than the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu told reporters that the Warsaw Middle East Summit, which lasted from Feb. 13-14 and was closed to the press, four Arab leaders showed support for Israel over Iran.

Four out of five Arab foreign ministers who addressed the conference spoke strongly and clearly against Iran, saying exactly what I’ve been saying for years,” Netanyahu said. “They were as clear as possible about the issue, and Israel’s right to defend itself against Iranian aggression.”

Netanyahu added that while the Palestinian conflict was mentioned in the conference, the Arab leaders felt “that first and foremost the Iranian issue needs to be dealt with.”

To confirm his argument, his office leaked a video of the panel of the three Arab leaders, which included Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa saying that Iran was “a more toxic” issue than the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“This is a serious challenge that is preventing us now from moving forward anywhere, be it Syria, be it Yemen, be it Iraq, be it anywhere,” Al Khalifa said.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir argued that the Israel-Palestinian conflict couldn’t be solved until Iran was dealt with first, since the Iranian regime provides support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad while “undercutting the Palestinian Authority.”

He also criticized the Iran nuclear deal for paving the way for the regime to obtain a nuclear weapon in 10 years.

Who is going to suffer?” al Jubeir asked. “We are.”

United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan also supported Israel’s retaliatory strikes against Iran in Syria as a matter of self-defense.

The leaked video was later removed.

Sixty countries were represented at the summit; Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended.

H/T: Times of Israel

Netanyahu: Iran Will Have ‘Last Anniversary’ If They Try to Destroy Tel Aviv, Haifa

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures during an inauguration ceremony of the Ramon International Airport just outside the southern Red Sea resort city of Eilat, Israel January 21, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put Iran on notice on Feb. 11: if the regime follows through on their threat to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa, the regime is finished.

The comment was prompted by Iranian Brig. Gen. Yadollah Javani, the deputy head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who said, on the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, “The United States does not have the courage to shoot a single bullet at us despite all its defensive and military assets.”

“If they attack us, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” Javani said.

Netanyahu fired back,I do not ignore the threats of the Iranian regime. but neither am I intimidated by them.”

“If this regime makes the awful mistake of trying to destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa, it will not succeed,” Netanyahu continued. “However, this would be the last anniversary of the revolution that they celebrate. They should take this into account.”

The anniversary of the ayatollahs overtaking Iran featured several chants of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” as well as the burning of the flags of both countries. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at the celebration that the event was proof that the United States’ and Israel’s “ill-omened aims” against the regime “have been defused.”

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.

Iranian-Israeli Singer Carves Her Own Path

Iranian-Israeli singer and songwriter Maureen Nehedar recently made her solo debut in New York at Temple Israel of Great Neck. It was an unadorned yet extraordinary performance. Given her authentic voice and her impact on the audience, she seems poised for global acclaim.

Sitting on the center platform of the synagogue, Nehedar, 41, embraced the maxim “less is more.” There were no electric instruments. It was just Nehedar, modestly dressed in a long, floral tunic, with an acoustic guitar and a stringed instrument called a cümbüs.  

Performing solo (her accompanist reportedly was refused a visa), Nehedar had no problems enthralling the crowd. Her voice was delicate and pure and showed off her tremendous range, honed from years of rigorous training with revered musical masters. She opened her performance with an original composition called “A Prayer for Peace,” a meditative song in Hebrew, and followed up with well-known Iranian folk songs. 

Nehedar has dedicated herself to preserving Iranian folk music and its rapidly disappearing Judeo-Persian variant. Her authenticity is powerful and was beautifully showcased in an introduction she gave to a traditional Iranian lullaby. These lullabies (or lalaee) are among the saddest in Persian tradition. Many depict lonesome mothers lamenting their traveling or working spouses and babies who refuse to give their mothers respite. 

Nehedar spoke of these tragic figures as young mothers, perhaps 12 or 13 years of age, raising children. She characterized lullabies as possible moments of solace and self-expression, when these adolescent mothers could grieve their vanished hopes and interrupted lives. 

“Nehedar’s music is more about introspection than entertainment. Its message is a reminder that our cultural heritage is not a thing of the past but a timeless treasure to inspire the future.”

The crowd listened with silent reverence. Nehedar continued, talking about her beloved grandmother, Homayoon, a quiet and traditional lady who had been taught never to sing in public despite her beautiful voice. She talked about how she recorded her grandmother’s voice on one of her albums and then delivered her own rendition of the lullaby, in what she described as “the soundtrack of our lives.” It was emotional, powerful and profoundly tragic. As she sang, Nehedar unlocked coffers of emotions that had been lodged in the subconscious of so many in the room. Tears streamed down faces of women and men. And yet, it wasn’t all nostalgia, but rather a cathartic release of pent-up sorrow that had been held in the hearts of mothers and their sons and daughters for generations. 

Despite her love of Persian music, Nehedar did not spend her formative years in Iran. The descendant of Iranian-Jews from Esfahan, she discovered Persian music as an immigrant child living in Israel. Her path has not been easy. At a private gathering of local women the day following the concert, Nehedar opened up about her struggles with infertility. Raised by a single mother and now a mother herself, Nehedar spoke of her strong belief in a woman’s financial independence and path for self-determination. 

In her journey to discovering and reinterpreting Iranian folk music, Nehedar said she increasingly scrutinized the lyrics. She recited the lyrics of a wedding song: the bride’s neck is white as crystal, the groom wants to visit her, 40 camels are carrying her dowry, she’s walking delicately. Nehedar said underneath these beautiful words lies a “cruel culture. Everyone sings about how beautiful the bride is, but has “anyone sung about her soul? How old is this bride?” Nehedar asked.

It’s personal with her, because, Nehedar revealed, her own mother was married off at 15 and her grandmother at 9. These revelations unleashed a wave of confessions from women at the gathering. 

Nehedar’s powerful message of advocacy for women is one she has applied to her own career. She spoke of how she embarked on field research, going door-to-door, asking older Iranian Jews to sing her old songs. She also refused to sign contracts with several recording companies because, she said, she had her own standards about how her music should sound. Instead, she saved her own money to pay for the recording of her three albums. And it’s paying off. 

Nehedar’s music is more about introspection than entertainment. It’s music that reminds us who we are and where we come from. Its message is a reminder that our cultural heritage is not a thing of the past but a timeless treasure to inspire the future.


Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, who was born and raised in Iran, is a human rights advocate and an amateur musician.

ADL Calls Out Rep. Omar for Comparing Israel to Iran

Screenshot from Twitter.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called out Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in a tweet for comparing Israel’s nation-state law to Iran.

In a Jan. 30 interview with Yahoo! News, Omar said, “When I see Israel institute a law that recognizes it as a Jewish State and does not recognize the other religions living in it and we still uphold it as a democracy in the Middle East, I almost chuckle because I know if we see that in any other society we would criticize it, we would call it out. We do that to Iran, we do that to any other place that upholds its religion.”

The ADL tweeted in response, “There is no comparison between democratic Israel and repressive theocracies such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.”

“Like all countries, Israel has challenges, but its democratic system protects all its citizens regardless of their religion,” the tweet continued.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) similarly tweeted out, “In Israel, Muslims, Christians, and Jews have the same rights and freedoms. Israelis of all faiths participate fully in the country’s democratic institutions.”

“@IlhanMN’s implication that Israel isn’t a democracy isn’t only shameful – it’s just plain wrong,” they added.

Former New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind also took issue with Omar’s statement.

Omar serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.