March 26, 2019

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.

Rep. Omar Compares Israel’s Nation-State Law to Iran

Rep. Ilhan Omar Photo from Flickr.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) compared Israel’s nation-state law to Iran in a Jan. 30 interview on women’s rights activist Zainab Salbi’s “Through Her Eyes” show on Yahoo! News.

Salbi asked Omar about how the United States’ should handle the Israel-Palestinian conflict; Omar replied that the United States should have a more even-handed approach.

“We have had a policy that makes one superior to the other, and we mask it with a conversation that’s about justice and a two-state solution when you have policies that clearly prioritize one over the other,” Omar said.

When Salbi asked for examples of such policies, Omar just cited the overall United States-Israel relationship and then pointed to Israel’s nation-state law.

“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,” Omar said. “We do that to Iran, we do that to any other place that upholds its religion.”

Tel Aviv University lecturer Emmanuel Navon has argued in the Journal that Israel’s Declaration of Independence provides equal rights to non-Jews living in Israel, but gives Jews the sole right to self-determination, which is all the nation-state law does.

“Israel’s nation-state law does what most European constitutions do: it specifies that the right to self-determination belongs to the majority nation; it describes the flag; and it codifies the country’s official language, national anthem, and national holidays,” Navon wrote. “The new nation-state law is the equivalent of a few articles in European constitutions. The new basic law does not replace other basic laws but completes them.”

Omar is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and has accused Israel of hypnotizing the world, which she said she didn’t know was an anti-Semitic trope. She serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Iran, PA Among Those Standing With Embattled Venezuelan President

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Iran, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hezbollah are among those who are standing with embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as the United States insists that his presidency is illegitimate.

On Wednesday, Juan Guaido, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly and the opposition leader to Maduro, invoked a constitutional amendment to assume the title of interim president, arguing that Maduro usurped power through an illegitimate election.

“I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end to the usurpation,” Guaido said.

Guaido has reportedly been working with the Trump administration on a peaceful method to transition Maduro out of power.

Maduro has indicated that he will not relinquish power, accusing the United States of orchestrating a coup against him. Iran is among those echoing Maduro’s line.

“Iran supports the government and people of Venezuela against any sort of foreign intervention and any illegitimate and illegal action such as attempt to make a coup d’etat,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday morning.

The PA’s foreign ministry also announced their solidarity with the Maduro regime:

Hezbollah, Iran’s Shia terrorist group based in Lebanon, did as well:

Russia has been sending war planes to Venezuela as sign of support for Maduro. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the move in a tweet:

After the U.S. announced that it was recognizing Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, several other countries followed suit, including Canada and Brazil:

The Venezuelan military has announced its support for Maduro, however Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has been working with the Trump administration on the matter, is insisting that it is just the generals who are standing with Maduro:

According to the Jewish Policy Center (JPC), Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, have a “long history of collaboration with Iran, including sanctions evasion, terror finance, and ideological subversion.”

“During the presidencies of Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Caracas was a key facilitator of Tehran’s sanctions-busting efforts,” the JPC report states. “The two regimes established business ventures and financial institutions in Venezuela, which they used to launder Iranian money, procure technology, and bribe senior Venezuelan officials.”

The report adds that Hezbollah has also been working with the Chavez and Maduro regimes, having “used South America as a base” money laundering in order to finance its terror activities.

The JPC went on to explain how Venezuela’s alliance with Iran and Hezbollah stems from the Venezuelan economy being plagued by hyperinflation, prompting the Venezuelan government to turn their worthless currency into counterfeit U.S. dollars through Iran and Hezbollah’s help.

“Suffering from a self-inflicted economic disaster, Venezuela is running out of foreign currency reserves. Turning worthless currency into greenbacks helps address that problem,” the report states. “Hezbollah gets a hefty commission for the job and gains political leverage in Venezuela in exchange for its help. Iran, as the key facilitator of the Venezuela-Hezbollah connection, favors the injection of billions of counterfeit greenbacks into the global economy because such a step is damaging to the U.S. financial system.”

WATCH: Syrian Opposition Activist Says Arabs Should Support Israel, Not Iran

Screenshot from Twitter.

Syrian opposition activist Issam Zeitoun said that Arabs should support Israel instead of Iran in a Janaury 16 debate on Al Jazeera.

The segment featured Ra’ed Al-Masri, Lebanese professor of political science and international relations, calling Israel “an illegitimate, nonexistent country.”

“As far as we are concerned, it does not exist,” Al-Masri said.

Zeitoun argued that “the Arabs have been using their weapons and their numbers in an attempt to impose a [solution] that is unacceptable to the international community, which supported the partition of Palestine.”

“Israel accepted the partition,” Zeitoun said. “Your argument that Israel is racist is nothing but a lie.”

The host then asked if Israel or Iran is more dangerous to the Middle East; Zeitoun argued that Iran is unquestionably the more dangerous of the two countries.

“Israel is surrounding itself with walls,” Zeitoun said. “It just wants to be left alone.”

Zeitoun proceeded to call “Pan-Arab ideology” a “cancer that is eating away at our nation,” pointing to the belief that Israel wants to widen its borders “from the Euphrates to the Nile” as an example.

“Every Arab and Muslim in history has believed this. There is no mention of this in any religious or political book. Nobody has ever said this,” Zeitoun said. “I have been to Israel more than once. I asked them: ‘Where in the Knesset is the banner that says: ‘Israel from the Euphrates to the Nile’?’ Nobody has ever heard of it. The Assad regime and our media have told us that [former Egyptian leader Anwar] Sadat spoke in the Knesset under a banner saying: ‘Israel’s borders from the Euphrates to the Nile.’ There is no such banner.”

The host proceeded to ask Zeitoun if it’s better to ally with Israel over Iran, to which Zeitoun emphatically agreed that Israel is the better country to ally with.

“Ask any Arab citizen where he wants to live, and then come back to me,” Zeitoun said.

Zeitoun added that Iran is a “rogue state,” while Israel is not.

“In any of our wars against Israel, Israel was waging a defensive war,” Zeitoun said. “Had we not attacked, it would not have attacked us, despite its capabilities.”

Zeitoun then asked if Iran would detonate a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv.

“It would drop it on Riyadh or any other Arab capital,” Zeitoun said.

He added that Iran “exploits” the Jerusalem issue “in order to win the Arabs over.”

Zeitoun grew up in a family that staunchly supported then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, but he became pro-Israel after he heard “whispers” in his hometown that Israel had been warm toward the Syrian civilians during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Most Syrians didn’t go public with such sentiments out of fear of being charged of treason of the Assad government.

IDF Kills 12 Iranian Soldiers in Syria Airstrikes

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

Israel launched several airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria on January 21, resulting in 21 dead, 12 of whom were Iranian soldiers.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), 12 of the 21 dead were members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), six were members of the Syrian military and the rest were foreign nationals.

Iran is disputing that they suffered any casualties, instead saying that Syria’s air defenses intercepted seven Israeli missiles.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said that the strikes were in response to Iran launching a missile toward the Golan Heights near the Mount Hermon Ski Resort on Jan. 20, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, “We will not ignore such acts of aggression as Iran attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria and given explicit statements by Iran that it intends to destroy Israel.”

“We are acting against Iran and against the Syrian forces that abet the Iranian aggression,” Netanyahu said. “Whoever tries to hurt us, we hurt them. Whoever threatens to destroy us will bear the full responsibility.”

Iran Has Reportedly Been Holding a U.S. Veteran Hostage Since July

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid/File Photo

Iran has been holding a United States veteran hostage since July, according to media reports.

The imprisoned American, 46-year-old Navy veteran Michael White, had been visiting his girlfriend in Iran in July and never returned home. White’s mother, Joanne, told The New York Times that the State Department had told her three weeks prior that her son was being held hostage.

“I’m very worried about his health,” Joanne told CBS News. “He just got over cancer and I’m worried about his condition. It’s very scary to me.”

White had been undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for a neck tumor. He also has asthma.

Ivar Farhadi, a cyberactivist who had been serving in prison at the same time as White, told CBS that “White was suffering psychologically and was being held in a ward with dangerous criminals.”

A State Department official told The New York Times in an email, “We are aware of reports of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Iran. We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad. Due to privacy considerations, we have no additional information to provide at this time.”

White is one of four American hostages currently being held in Iran. According to CBS, sources have told them “that Iran is holding the Americans to try to extract concessions such as those received in a deal reached with President Obama,” an apparent reference to the $1.7 billion the Obama administration sent to Iran in exchange for the release of five American hostages.

Iran Meets with Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leaders

REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl//File Photo

The Iranian regime met with leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist organization in Tehran on Monday, where the PIJ terrorists reportedly bragged about their ability to unleash “thousands of missiles” against Israel.

Iran’s Press TV reported that the meeting included Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and PIJ Secretary General Ziad al-Nakhala. Islamic Jihad reportedly told the Iranian leaders that they and Hamas were in a prime position to launch attacks against Israel.

Iran also reportedly signaled that they and Hezbollah “will support the Palestinians in the next conflict,” indicating “a threat of launching a multi-front war against Israel,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

Khamenei also praised PIJ for what he saw as the weakening of Israel.

“During the previous two wars, the Zionist regime called for truce after 22 days on one occasion and eight days on another, but in the latest confrontation it requested a ceasefire after only 48 hours,” Khamenei said. “This means the Zionist regime has been brought to its knees.”

A senior congressional official told the Washington Free Beacon, “Iran is finding every new way to attack Israel and interfere with America’s efforts to bolster our Israeli allies.”

“One day it’s Hezbollah attack tunnels. Another day it’s drones from Syria,” the official said. “Today it’s apparently Palestinian attack tunnels. The only way this stops is if the U.S. Treasury Department and Congress finally drain them of resources.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tweeted in response that he is leading an effort to crack down on Iran’s finances:

The meeting came after President Trump announced that the United States will be completely withdrawing its forces from Syria.

Q&A: The Iranian Regime Crackdowns on Christians

With the Iranian regime recently arresting 100 Christians in Iran for supposedly proselyting Muslims into Christianity, I had the chance to sit down and chat with Frank Nikabkht, an Iranian American Jewish activist on the status of Christians and other religious minorities still living in Iran. Nikabkht, who heads the L.A.-based Committee for Minority Rights in Iran, discussed the war the Iranian regime’s radical leadership has been undertaking against new converts to Christianity in recent years — as the popularity for the faith has grown among people who are disillusioned with radical Shiite Islam sanctioned by the state.

My 2016 interview with Nikbakht shed light on how the Iranian regime at that time had launched a successful campaign of severely restricting the celebration of Christmas and arrested those operating underground churches. This year he elaborated on how Christian Iranians who were born Christian and did not convert are facing growing persecution at the hands of the Iranian regime.

Jewish Journal: I understand 100 Christians were recently arrested in Iran, what is the current status of Christians in Iran?

Frank Nikabkht: As you may know, Iranian Islamic laws consider Christianity as a tolerated religion and recognize its followers as third class citizens, after Shiite and Sunni Muslims, with limited rights. However, what some may not know is that even this “privilege” is limited to certain ethnic Iranians who happen to be Christians such as Armenians and Assyrians, who have lived in Iran for thousands of years and whose populations have dwindled to about 20 percent since the establishment of the Islamic Republic and its constant pressures and discrimination against minorities. Christianity itself however, as a faith or belief is not accepted from any other Iranian. If a Muslim converts to Christianity, the official punishment — following the Islamic Shari’ah — is death due to apostasy. Dozens of Christian converts or missionaries were assassinated and executed in the early years of the Islamic revolution, while hundreds have been imprisoned and thousands threatened into exile ever since. Executions and assassinations have been rare, in order to  protect the “compassionate image” of the Islamic regime.

JJ: The Iranian regime in recent years has been cracking down on underground churches in Iran where former Muslims have converted to Christianity. How has the regime been able to do this effectively?

FN: According to a recent Iranian Revolutionary Guard affiliated paper, the Iranian authorities have been successful in “penetrating” and demolishing Christian evangelist gatherings by planting undercover agents within them, leading to their imprisonment and disbanding their activities, as if in espionage rings or criminal networks. My research in the past decades had shown that even the few legal Churches available to non-ethnic Christians — mainly attended by Jews and other minorities to Christianity — were forced to have a list of members which would be checked against the people entering those churches by Islamic intelligence ministry agents at the door. Non-ethnic Christians are also intimidated and investigated when going to government offices, to make sure they aren’t Muslim converts to Christianity.

JJ: Why has there been such a strong attraction by younger Muslims to embrace Christianity?

FN: Christians in Iran claim that their numbers have increased to huge numbers. These claims are believable, since millions of young Muslims in Iran have been trying to find alternative beliefs to their harsh imposed Islamist ideology of the ruling Iranian regime. Life has been made difficult for people originally born Christian in Iran. Even the legal and operating Christian cemetery in Eastern Tehran has been shut down for several years, and Christians have reported that they had to go into the adjacent Jewish cemetery and throw their flower bouquets over the walls, just to commemorate their deceased on the other side. Burials are therefore a major problem for non-ethnic Christians.

JJ: Why does the Iranian regime see Christianity and the underground evangelical churches as such a threat to them?

Historically, the gradual elimination of all other religions in lands conquered by Islam, has been a goal. Converting Muslims to another religion is a crime punishable by death according to the existing Iranian laws. At this time, because of mass dissatisfaction with the extremist Muslim clergy in power in Iran, conversion to other religions such as Christianity, Bahaiism and Zoroastrianism, as well as to Sufi sects within Islam, has become common and is turning into a serious matter threatening the monopoly of the Mullahs over people’s deepest convictions.

JJ: Why don’t the major European or Russian leaders who forged the 2015 Iran Deal, and are doing tremendous business with the Iran regime, speak out about the regime’s crack down on Christianity and new Christian converts?

FN: Obviously, human rights violations are not a concern of the European powers, while submission to Islamic laws is a trend even in their own countries. I personally remember however, that during the Clinton presidency, the U.S. State Department, while defending other Iranian minorities, excluded evangelical Christians whom they considered as trouble makers in Islamic countries, from American protection.

JJ: What kind of campaign of awareness would you like to see from the American evangelical community to support the plight of Christians and new Christian converts in Iran?

FN: Spreading the news of Christian persecution is of primary importance. Comparing this inhuman behavior to Western countries’ tolerance of other religions is also very important because the younger generations here might not know about the prevalence of brutal suppression of alternative thinking in Islamic countries.

U.N. Calls Out Iran’s Human Rights Abuses in Resolution

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani departs after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A majority of the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution that called out the Iranian regime for its various human rights abuses on Monday, by a vote of 84 in favor and 30 against.

The resolution denounces Iran’s “ongoing severe limitations and restrictions on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, restrictions on the establishment of places of worship, attacks against places of worship and burial and other human rights violations, including but not limited to harassment, intimidation, persecution, arbitrary arrests and detention, denial of access to education and incitement to hatred that leads to violence against persons belonging to recognized and unrecognized religious minorities.”

Iran was also condemned for its “alarmingly high” rate of executions – especially over “drug-related crimes – as well as its frequent use of “arbitrary detention.”

Hillel Neuer of U.N. Watch has the breakdown of countries that voted for and against the resolution:

“The death in detention last week of Vahid Sayadi Nasiri, imprisoned for Facebook posts critical of Tehran’s rulers, only underscores the urgent need for the international community to hold Iran accountable for its human rights abuses,” Neuer said in a statement. “Today the world sent a strong message to the fanatical regime, and that must continue.”

Neuer added, “We call upon the international community to use the occasion of this resolution to redouble its condemnation of Iran’s escalating abuse of the human rights of all its citizens, and to demand a change.”

Northern Shield Explainer: Israel’s Operation on the Lebanese Border

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speaks via a screen during a protest in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

On Tuesday morning, Israel woke up to a new reality. The IDF announced that it started an operation on the northern border. The following 5 comments will tell you briefly everything you need to understand about it.

  1. What

Explaining the operation and its goals is simple. Israel identified underground tunnels dug by Hezbollah that penetrate into Israeli territory. Such tunnels could allow Hezbollah to move men and ammunition to launch an attack within Israel. The IDF aims to destroy these tunnels. For years, it gathered intelligence about them, for months, it prepared an operation to damage them. The time has come. Note that (“for now”, IDF spokesman words) the operation is taking place within Israel’s territory.

  1. When

Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu informed Secretary of State Pompeo about the coming operation when they met in Brussels. But the timing is more about meeting certain essential technical objectives before an operation could be launched. Remember that the IDF proved in Gaza, not long ago, that its ability to identify, locate and destroy tunnels is much improved. The developing technology and knowhow enabled the northern operation.

  1. Why

There’s no great mystery with the why. Israel cannot allow attack tunnels to penetrate its territory.

  1. World

There is regional context to the operation. There are changes in Syria, including a Russian attempt to stabilize the state by limiting the action of both Iran and Israel. For Iran, this means less focus on Syria and more on Lebanon. In recent weeks there was a growing wave of Israeli warnings to Lebanon – reminding the government in Beirut of its responsibility to prevent hostile action against Israel from Lebanese territory. Even before these warnings, Prime Minister Netanyahu exposed new sites for building rockets in Lebanon in his speech to the UN Assembly.

Exposing the tunnels will make Israel’s claims (that the Lebanese government does not control its own territory) even more credible. In other words: Israel is losing patience and is signaling to the world (the US, France, Arab countries) that the quiet in Lebanon is misleading.

  1. War

Is this a prelude to war?

The operation is on the Israeli side. This means that Israel does not aim to initiate a war.

Will Hezbollah initiate a war? Will Iran?

For Hezbollah it makes little sense, as war could present Israel with an opportunity to deal with some of the other concerns it has about Lebanon – namely, to deal with Hezbollah projects and assets. For Iran, the calculation is more complicated. The Iranian regime is under pressure and might look for ways to stir the waters, and possibly turn itself from being seen as a problem (Iran destabilizes the region) to being seen as a possible solution (talking to Iran is the only way to stop a war).

Then again, Iran is under pressure and might not want to give its rivals a pretext to strike.

The Road To Middle East Peace Starts with Regime Change in Iran

In recent weeks we have witnessed yet another round of deadly horrific rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip against innocent Israeli civilian cities nearly. A Christian Zionist friend of mine contacted with a sense of hopelessness and worry about Israel’s future security and almost inability to fight back against the Hamas terror group which has embedded itself among Gaza’s innocent civilian population. My response to him was simple…  the ultimate solution to the current wars waged against Israel and moderate Arab countries in the region is the demise of the Iranian regime. The current regime of the ayatollahs is perhaps the largest financier of Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups targeting Israel and the Arab world today. The regime not only provides billions of dollars in free cash to these terrorists, but also arms them with advanced weaponry and rockets. When this heinous regime is overthrown in Iran today, so will these key terrorist groups be greatly weakened or possibly destroyed forever.

While the current Trump administration and previous U.S. administrations for the last 40 years have refused to carry out a policy of regime change in Iran, the ayatollahs in that country have only strengthened in power. They have continued their nefarious terrorist actions against Israel and the rest of the Arab world. Earlier this year, Sigal Mandelker, the U.S. Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, stated in a speech that Iran provides upwards of $700 million a year to their Shiite terrorist organization Hezbollah, which is based in Southern Lebanon.  Likewise earlier this year, out-going Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot also reported that Iran spends a combined $100 million per year supporting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

One is left wondering what would happen to these terrorist groups if the Islamic Republic of Iran no longer existed and billions of dollars would not be funneled to them? No doubt, the Hamas grip of power in Gaza would collapse and their ability to launch rockets into civilian Israeli cities would stop. Perhaps with a weakened Hamas or a Gaza without Hamas, a more moderate Palestinian regime could take control of that area and even negotiate a lasting peace with Israel instead of seeking constant war and destruction? Perhaps Hezbollah would be driven out of their stronghold in Southern Lebanon by moderate Lebanese groups and eventually collapse without the backing of their parent country, Iran.  Perhaps the Shiite terrorists who control parts of Yemen would cease to exist without funding and weapons from the Iranian regime. Even to a mere child, it is obvious that without the money and military backing of the ayatollahs in Iran, a great deal of the terrorism and conflict in the Middle East would significantly be reduced. Therefore in my humble opinion, the road to peace in the Middle East is largely possible if there is regime change in Iran.

A new free, secular, democratically elected government in Iran which is not corrupt and answers to the people of Iran, would perhaps become a beacon of peace in the Middle East instead of a source of instability in the region. Today we hear Iran’s majority young population protesting in the streets of the country chanting “Not Gaza, No Lebanon, My life is only to be sacrificed for Iran”. This proves that Iran’s population has no taste for funding terrorist groups and would prefer to use the country’s oil and gas revenues to improve their own living conditions. Regime change in Iran today could crush the Iranian-back terrorist groups and encourage moderate Arab forces in the region to encourage Palestinians to make a real compromising peace with Israel. Today much of the Arab world’s leaders do not see Israel as their enemy but rather their friend in light of the Iranian regime’s threat to their stability. It seems as if Arab leaders and many Arab intellectuals want some sort of resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians, in an effort to enjoy the economic benefits of trade with a technology powerhouse like Israel. What stands in their way? Iran’s funding of terrorist groups that continue to perpetuate the conflict with Israel.

Many on the political left in America and much of Europe disapprove of regime change in Iran because they believe they can do business with the ayatollahs in Iran and the regime is not a threat to the Middle East. They claim that regime change in Iran is not a path to be taken because “the world” should not interfere with the internal affairs of other countries. Some on the political left and in Europe even claim that regime change in Iran means a violent military overthrow of the ayatollahs in Iran. This is NOT my interpretation of regime change in Iran! The U.S., Europe and the entire free world must bring tremendous economic pressure on the current Iranian regime to expedite its collapse from within. The ayatollahs in their radical revolutionary guard corps must be weakened financially to the point where they have no means to neither operate in Iran against their own population nor fund terrorism in the Middle East. Economic suffocation of the Iranian regime and its thugs will embolden forces of democracy in Iran to internally overthrow their radical Islamic oppressors without any interference from outside governments or sources. Today, the Trump administration refuses to carry out a policy of regime change in Iran. However the administration has rightly taken steps to increase sanctions and economic pressure on the Iranian regime. Yet more of such steps are still needed to push the ayatollahs to brink of collapse financially. Just as the Soviet Union collapsed from within due to dire economic conditions applied to them by America and the West, so too must the radical Islamic Iranian regime collapse from within due to dire economic conditions.

The ultimate overthrow of this radical Islamic regime in Iran is the ONLY path to helping to bring about peace in the Middle East because without the ayatollahs in power in Tehran, their many terrorist proxies in the region cease to exist. Today Iran is a major stumbling block to stability in the Middle East and when it is removed from the equation, the possibilities for Middle East peace and prosperity are endless. The only thing we need now are bold and courageous leaders in America and the western world who are willing to carry out steps that will lead to the ultimate collapse of this Iranian regime.

As An Iranian American, I Support More Sanctions on the Iranian Regime …

Earlier this month the Trump administration announced a new round of heavier economic sanctions on the Iranian regime’s sale of oil and other major exports that generate tremendous revenue for the ayatollahs. This move was long overdue and in my opinion it was an incredible great first step in helping to bring about the final demise of this evil regime.

I was nearly two years old when my family was forced to flee Iran after the Islamic revolution that engulfed that country and America has been my home since then. I love America for offering my family a safe haven and economic opportunities to live better lives in freedom. I have even more love and respect for my fellow Ashkenazi co-religionists who over the decades have not only shown my family kindness but welcomed my Iranian Jewish community into the larger American Jewish society.  However I have had serious disagreements with many of my Ashkenazi friends on the proper foreign policy steps the U.S. must take when it comes with Iran. Sadly many in the Ashkenazi community have never experienced the very deep rooted Shiite Islamic form of anti-Semitism and the pure evil of this radical Islamic regime in Iran firsthand as my Iranian Jewish community have experienced. While I certainly do not speak for all Iranian American Jews, I feel compelled to share why many in my community are so strongly supportive of the new additional sanctions the current Trump administration is imposing on the demonic Iranian regime this month. Just as President Regan so correctly labeled the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” that had to be destroyed, so must we today bring about the destruction of radical evil Iranian empire.

 

AS JEWS WHO WERE FORCED OUT OF IRAN, WE CANNOT FORGET

In 1979 when the revolution was sparked in Iran, we Jews were among the first victims of the new radical Islamic regime’s reign of terror and extreme anti-Semitism. Not only was our community leader, Habib Elghanian executed on false charges of spying for Israel by the radical regime, but the majority of our families were forced to flee the country out of fear for our lives as a result of Elghanian’s killing. The radical Islamic regime of the ayatollahs in Iran labeled us Jews as “najes” or “religiously impure infidels” and immediately enacted horrific laws that essentially turned our community into third class citizens who had to be humiliated because as Jews we were inferior to Muslims. The regime also imprisoned, tortured and even executed many innocent Jews in Iran who had no political ties just for the purpose of forcibly confiscating our properties, businesses and other assets. Sometimes the regime’s thugs threatened our lives and the lives of our loved ones to force us to sell our assets at near bargain prices or to flee the country altogether and abandon our homes and assets. Many of our Jewish families as a result were forced to escape from Iran illegally through border crossings via Pakistan or Turkey where our lives were at risk because we were being smuggled out by common criminals. Essentially our lives were turned upside down when this radical Islamic regime came to power in Iran and uprooted our 2,700 year presence in that country. I beg you to listen to our stories of peril at the hands of this regime and heed our warnings about its diabolic intentions for the entire world!

 

SANCTIONS ARE THE BEST WAY TO AVOID WAR

If left unchecked and uncontrolled, the Iranian regime today will plunge the entire Middle East and eventually the world into massive war or prolonged bloody conflict. As we have so clearly seen, the Iranian regime without sanctions, poured billions of dollars into their hegemonic conflicts in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  The Iranian regime through proxy terrorist groups has attacked Israel and Saudi Arabia countless times in recent years will money they have earned by selling oil, natural gas and other natural resources. New biting sanctions on the Iranian regime and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard will help cut off or reduce the flow of funds to these forces of evil that are fully funding conflicts throughout the Middle East. Money has been the lifeline of survival for the Iranian regime’s expansionist campaigns in the region. Now with their funds now cut off or reduced with new sanctions, the Middle East and the world will avoid war or major conflicts that were being advanced by the Iranian regime.

 

OBAMA & DEMOCRATS APPEASEMENT POLICY FAILED

After the infamous 2015 “Iran Deal” the Obama administration and European countries signed with the Iranian regime, the ayatollahs and their thugs were given sanctions relief and billions of dollars in cold hard cash for free. Former President Obama, his negotiating team and many Democrats in Congress wrongly thought that appeasing the evil Iranian regime with billions of dollars and new trade deals, would help tone down their anti-Israel rhetoric and curb their appetite for aggression against Israel and the Arab world. These were all false hopes and a failed policy because as soon as sanctions were lifted on the Iranian regime and they were given billions in free cash by Obama, the Iranian regime expanded its hegemonic conquests of Yemen, Iraq, Syria and funneled that cash to its terrorist proxies of Hamas and Hezbollah. Instead of toning down their ambitious actions, the Obama policy of appeasing the Iranian ayatollahs backfired and emboldened them to increase their evil actions in the Middle East. The Iranian regime now has control of parts of Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon because it was given a lifeline of survival by the Obama administration.

 

THE PEOPLE OF IRAN DESERVE BETTER

For nearly 40 years the innocent freedom-loving people of Iran have been held hostage by this evil nefarious radical Islamic regime. They have been lie to, tortured, raped, imprisoned, gagged from having any freedom and had their entire country’s wealth stolen from them for the purposes of advancing war and terrorism in the Middle East. The thugs of the Iranian regime have made life a living hell for the people of Iran, the majority of who are young and intelligent people that want freedom, democracy and better living standards. Filmmakers, journalists, bloggers, artists, student opposition protestors, labor union leaders and LGBT have been killed, imprisoned and tortured regularly. Iran under the ayatollahs reign of terror has the second highest rate of executions in the world behind China! Instead of funneling billions in petro-dollars into improving the infrastructure of Iran, reducing food shortages, reducing poverty, reducing unemployment, the Iranian regime has only enriched the lives of its own thugs and leadership. Inflation is now in double digits, the cost of living in skyrocketing, there is widespread famine and drought in many parts of Iran because of the Iranian regime has done nothing to improve the situation for the people of the country. Their brutal totalitarian dictatorship has done nothing to better the lives of people in Iran and it’s high time for change in the country’s leadership. Tougher and increased sanctions on the Iranian regime and its brutal thugs will loosen their grip of power in the country and emboldened the average people in Iran to rise up and overthrow their dictatorship. The good people of Iran deserve better lives and freedom–  sanctions are an effective means by which the U.S. and the world can help them achieve that all important goal.

 

SANCTIONS LIKE CHEMOTHERAPY, BOTH NECESSARY TO KILL ANY CANCER

Apologists for the Iranian regime living in America and leftist have been whining about new U.S. sanctions hurting the people of Iran and doing nothing to stop the Iranian regime. These are lies and more lies that they spew! Sanctions have been directed at key players in the Iranian regime’s leadership, the Iranian Revolution Guard Corps, as well as the various front businesses both use to funnel money for their nefarious actions around the world. Sanctions have no doubt a painful impact on the Iranian population, but they are a necessary evil just like chemotherapy is essential to fight and kill off any cancer in the human body. The regime in Iran is without a doubt a demonic cancer feeding off the wealth of that nation and spreading its evil to the rest of the Middle East. Sanctions, just like chemotherapy will cut off or greatly reduce the lifeline for the regime to survive and continue its reign of terror. Without billions of dollars in their pockets, the ayatollahs and their thugs in Iran will have little or no ability to carry out their terrorism in that region or threaten the world with nuclear weapons.

 

MIDDLE EAST PEACE HAS A GREATER CHANCE OF SUCCESS

Any Middle East expert will tell you that the vast majority of terrorism in the Middle East and the perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are largely due to funding coming from the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime every year pours billions of dollars into the pockets of terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other radical Shiite terrorists in Yemen. The Iranian regime also arms these terror groups with expensive arms, weaponry and advanced rockets. If and when the Iranian regime collapses, the lifeline of funding and armaments to these terrorist groups throughout the Middle East will stop. Without funding these terror groups will be forced to disband or will be destroyed militarily. As a result, with Iran and its terror groups out of the picture, more moderate voices for a peace in the region may have a fighting chance to make a peace deal possible between Arabs and Israelis.

 

WE DON’T NEED A SECOND HOLOCAUST FOR THE JEWS!

Many of my Ashkenazi friends on the left are always saying “Never Again” every year during the Holocaust memorial days or when issues of Nazi atrocities arise. I am often baffled at why they remain so silent and do not apply this same motto when it comes to the Iranian regime today? The regime of the ayatollahs in Iran for the last 40 years has constantly called for the annihilation of the Jewish state and its population. This is without a doubt a call for a second genocide against the Jewish people! After six million of our brethren were slaughtered at the hands of the Nazis we cannot and must permit any force on this planet to attempt a second genocide against us. When the Iranian regime’s leadership says it wants to “wipe Israel off the map” or that “Israel is a cancerous tumor that must be removed”, it is very clearly saying it wants a second Holocaust against Jews. This is something we cannot permit and must stand against at all costs. Sanctions will for sure cut off or greatly reduce the Iranian regime’s financial potential for a nuclear weapons war against Israel and the Jewish people.

 

So to you my Ashkenazi brothers and sisters, I implore you to support the current U.S. administration’s policy to crush this Iranian regime through painful economic sanctions. The survival of our people on this planet depends on the current Iranian regime being de-fanged and or to help bring about the regime’s collapse from within due to tremendous crippling economic pressures. Please hear our voices as the Iranian Jews who were first to experience the demonic evil of this Iranian regime and heed our warning before it is too late. This regime in Iran must go and the best way to bring about its expeditious demise is through more economic sanctions. These sanctions will not only protect the Middle East from a catastrophic regional war brought about by the Iranian regime, but will likely permanently cut off the Iranian regime’s ability from trying to wipe Israel and all world Jewry off the face of the earth.

Farrakhan Leads Chants of ‘Death to America,’ ‘Death to Israel’ in Iran

Nation of Islam leader and anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan led chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” while in Iran over the weekend.

Farrakhan was critical of the Trump administration’s re-imposition of sanctions against Iran in a speech at Tehran University, calling it a “big mistake.” He also told Iran, “If you don’t work to end the division inside Iran, you will not survive the sanctions,” with “the division” being a likely reference to the anti-regime protests in Iran.

Toward the end of his speech, Farrakhan began leading chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” in Farsi:

In a meeting with Iranian Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezaei, Farrakhan said, “I understand how the enemies have plotted against the Iranian people and I would like to stay alongside you to stop their plots.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach tweeted in response:

Farrakhan also praised the Iranian regime in a 2016 visit to the country, where he said, “I would hope that at this later stage, where you are now coming out from under sanctions—sanctions that were designed by the West to destroy the revolutionary spirit of the Iranian people, and cause the Iranian people to rise up against their government. But thanks to Allah, the people of Iran stood firmly with their leadership. And the sanctions only caused Iran to look deep within itself. And now those sanctions are being lifted, but Iran is stronger, Iran is wiser, Iran is more influential.”

Farrakhan has also praised Iran’s terror proxy, Hezbollah, as “freedom fighters.”

The Nation of Islam leader has connections to various Democrats, most notably Deputy Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.), and has been praised by leaders of the Women’s March. The Women’s March had not responded to the Journal’s request for comment at publication time.

UPDATE: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has published a blog post about Farrakhan’s Iran visit that can be read here.

Iran Engaged in Fake News Campaign on Facebook

Photo from Max Pixel.

Facebook has announced that they have removed several pages, accounts and groups connected to Iran that they say promulgated disinformation of United States politics leading up to the upcoming midterm elections.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, stated that Facebook has taken down 82 pages, accounts and groups that engaged in “inauthentic behavior,” which included posts “about politically charged topics such as race relations, opposition to the President, and immigration.”

Examples of such posts included a fake Time magazine cover of President Trump that stated, “The worst, most hated president in American history!” as well as a photo of UK Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn attributing the following quote to him: “The idea that somehow or other you can deal with all the problems in the world by banning a religious group from entering the U.S.A. is offensive and absurd.”

While Gleicher said they could tie some of the removed accounts, groups and pages to Iran’s state media, they could not establish a concrete connection between them and the Iranian government.

“Free and fair elections are the heart of every democracy and we’re committed to doing everything we can to prevent misuse of Facebook at this critical time for our country,” Gleicher said.

Ben Nimmo of The Atlantic Research Council’s Digital Lab said that the propaganda disseminated from the Iranian accounts resembled “left-leaning Americans to amplify divisions over politically charged issues in the U.S.” and they followed a similar playbook that the Russians used in the 2016 elections, according to USA Today.

Facebook also removed accounts for spreading Iranian disinformation in August. There was some overlap between those accounts and the ones removed in October.

Report: Iran Ramping Up Missile Shipments to Hezbollah

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid/File Photo

Iran is ramping up its shipment of missiles to its Shia terror proxy, Hezbollah, according to a new report from Fox News.

The report states that a recent flight from Tehran to Beirut is believed to have provided Hezbollah with a stash of weapons, including a GPS device that converts rockets into precision-guided missiles.

The shipment was provided at one of Hezbollah’s secret sites in Beirut, an issue that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touched upon in his recent United Nations speech. Netanyahu highlighted Hezbollah’s secret weapon caches as evidence that the Shia terror proxy is using Beirut’s civilians as human shields.

Israel has conducted more than 200 strikes in Syria since 2017 targeting Iran’s shipments to Hezbollah, the report states.

Israel intelligence has been worrying that Hezbollah’s growing arsenal of weaponry could lead to a conflict between the two that would be bloodier than the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

U.S. Rescinds Parts of Two Treaties to Avoid U.N. Court Actions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser John Bolton attend the "Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem" event at the United Nations in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Trump administration announced that they had rescinded parts of two treaties on Wednesday, stating that it was necessary to protect their sovereignty from the United Nation’s International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The first treaty was the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran, which the ICJ cited as basis for the United States to stop its sanctions on the Iranian regime that hinder humanitarian goods and services from entering the country.

“This is a decision frankly that is 39 years overdue,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

Pompeo also argued that Iran was “abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes” and that Iran should utilize its resources for humanitarian efforts rather than funneling it toward terror throughout the Middle East.

“Those are dollars the Iranian leadership is squandering,” Pompeo said. “They could be providing humanitarian assistance to their own people but have chosen a different path.”

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters on Wednesday that the United States would also be exiting from an amendment to the Vienna Convention, which the Palestinians are using to challenge the United States’ Jerusalem embassy move. He added that the United States will be reviewing other international agreements as well.

“The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us,” Bolton said.

Bolton Tells Reporter That ‘Palestine’ Isn’t A State

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton answers a question from a reporter about how he refers to Palestine during a news conference in the White House briefing room in Washington, U.S., October 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, declared that “Palestine” is not a state in an exchange with a reporter on Wednesday.

The reporter asked Bolton during a press briefing if it was “productive” for him to refer to “Palestine” as a “so-called state.” Bolton interjected that it was “accurate” to call it that.

“It’s not a state now,” Bolton said. “It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood. It doesn’t control defined boundaries. It doesn’t fulfill the normal functions of government.”

Bolton added, “It could become a state, as the president said, but that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others. So calling it the ‘so-called State of Palestine’ defines exactly what it has been, a position the United States government has pursued uniformly since 1988 when the Palestinian Authority declared itself as the State of Palestine.”

Bolton also noted that both Republican and Democrat administrations have been against the United Nations recognizing “Palestine” as a state.

Additionally, Bolton stated that Iran has “pursued a policy of hostility toward the United States:

Iran Launches Missiles Against ISIS in Syria While Threatening U.S. and Israel

FILE PHOTO: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Foreign Ministers Council in Istanbul, Turkey, December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Pool/File Photo

Iran launched six medium-range ballistic missiles into Syria on Oct. 1 at ISIS targets in what it said was retaliation for their role in a recent attack at a military parade last month in Iran. The missile attack reportedly killed and wounded several militants.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who heads the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division, told an Iranian news agency, “Terrorists used bullets in Ahvaz. We answered them with missiles.”

The United States said that no members of the U.S.-backed coalition in Syria was harmed in the missile strikes. The missiles were emblazoned with the slogans “Down with USA,” “Down with Israel,” and “Down with House of Saud [Saudi Arabia].”

On Sept. 22, four gunmen opened fire on an Iranian military parade in Ahvaz, resulted in at least 25 dead, eight of whom were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Both ISIS and the Ahvaz National Resistance, an anti-government militia, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Iran blamed the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for the military parade attack. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Oct. 1 missile strikes showed that it was “ridiculous” for Iran to think that Israel was behind the attack.

“The fact that ‘Death to Israel’ was written on the missiles launched at Syria proves everything,” Netanyahu said.

Israel Says IAEA Failed to Act After Being Notified of Iranian Nuclear Site

FILE PHOTO: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano waits for the start of a board of governors meeting at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria June 4, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

A senior Israeli official told Israel’s Channel 10 that Israel told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about the Iranian nuclear site that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed at the United Nations on Thursday, but the agency failed to act.

The official added that the IAEA had no idea what was going on at the site, and when they didn’t take any action, the Israeli government decided the best course of action was to reveal the site to the public in Netanyahu’s U.N. speech.

“We wanted to wake up the world and pressure the IAEA to act against the suspected facilities in Iran,” the official said.

Israel also told the United States about the nuclear site. The United States joined Israel in calling for the IAEA to investigate the site, although a U.S. intelligence official told Reuters that it was “somewhat misleading” to call it a nuclear site.

“We have known about this facility for some time, and it’s full of file cabinets and paper, not aluminum tubes for centrifuges, and second, so far as anyone knows, there is nothing in it that would allow Iran to break out of the JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal] any faster than it otherwise could,” the official said.

A different U.S. official said that the facility stored records of Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told an Iranian news agency on Friday that Netanyahu is a “liar who would not stop lying.”

The IAEA has yet to react to Netanyahu’s speech.

In U.N. Speech, Netanyahu Reveals Second Iranian Nuclear Site

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

In his Thursday speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed another secret Iran nuclear facility as well as proof that Hezbollah’s been using civilians as human shields.

The second site, which Netanyahu provided photographic evidence of, is located in Tehran. The Israeli prime minister stated that since Israel exposed one nuclear site in Tehran in May, Iran has been scrambling to cover-up the existence of the second site:

Now, countries with satellite capabilities may notice some increased activity on Maher Alley in the days and weeks ahead. The people they’ll see scurrying back and forth are Iranian officials desperately trying to finish the job of cleaning up that site. Because, you see, since we raided the atomic archive, they’ve been busy cleaning out the atomic warehouse.

Just last month, they removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material. You know what they did with it? They had 15 kilograms of radioactive material, they had to get it out of the site, so they took it out and they spread it around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence. The endangered residents of Tehran may want to know that they can get a Geiger counter on Amazon for only $29.99. As of today that’s just 4 million Iranian rials, but we’ll get to that later. I’ll talk about the Iranian economy in a minute. They took this radioactive material and spread it around Tehran.

Now, the Iranian officials cleaning out that site still have a lot of work to do because they’ve had at least, at least 15 ship containers, they’re gigantic, 15 ship containers full of nuclear related equipment and material stored there. Now, since each of those containers can hold 20 tons of material, this means that this site contains as much as 300 tons, 300 tons of nuclear related equipment and material.

Netanyahu added, “The reason Iran didn’t destroy its atomic archive and its atomic warehouse is because it hasn’t abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons. In fact, it planned to use both of these sites in a few years when the time would be right to break out to the atom bomb.”

Netanyahu called Yukiya Amano, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to investigate the site. Netanyahu proceeded to issue a warning to the regime in Tehran:

Israel knows what you’re doing, and Israel knows where you’re doing it. Israel will never let a regime that calls for our destruction to develop nuclear weapons. Not now, not in 10 years, not ever.

And Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran’s aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever and wherever we must act to defend our state and defend our people.

Later in the speech, Netanyahu provided photographic evidence of Hezbollah, Iran’s terror proxy, placing three missile sites nearby the international airport in Beirut, evidence they are “deliberately using the innocent people of Beirut as human shields.”

“I also have a message for Hezbollah today: Israel knows, Israel also knows what you’re doing,” Netanyahu said. “Israel knows where you’re doing it. And Israel will not let you get away with it.”

Additionally, Netanyahu criticized the United Nations for accusing Israel of “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians.

“It’s the same old anti-Semitism with a brand-new face. That’s all it is,” Netanyahu said. ”Once, it was the Jewish people that were slandered and held to a different standard. Today, it’s the Jewish state that is slandered and held to a different standard.”

Netanyahu concluded his speech with a defense of the Jewish state as the sole “vibrant democracy” in a sea of tyranny in the Middle East.

“In Israel, whether you are a Jew or an Arab, a Christian or a Muslim, a Druze or a Bedouin, or anything else, your individual rights are exactly the same, and they will always remain the same,” Netanyahu said. “…In the Middle East, where women are often treated as property, minorities are persecuted, gays are hanged, Israel stands out as a shining example of freedom and progress.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, I could not be more proud to represent my country Israel.”

Read the full transcript of Netanyahu’s speech here.

Trump Speaks to U.N., Slams Iran for Creating ‘Chaos, Death and Disruption’

U.S. President Donald Trump sips Diet Coke from his wine glass after a toast as he sits beside Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte during a luncheon for world leaders at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Trump slammed the Iranian regime for creating “chaos, death and disruption” in his Tuesday speech before the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump began the speech by stating that his “administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” prompting laughter from the assembly.

“I did not expect that reaction,” Trump responded. “That is OK.”

Trump proceeded to tout his administration’s efforts to stand up “for America and the American people, and we are also standing up for the world”:

We are also standing up for our citizens and for peace- loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth.

That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, and I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live, work, or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

On North Korea, Trump highlighted the dismantling of facilities, releasing of hostages and return of the deceased soldiers as progress, but added that sanctions on North Korea would remain until full denuclearization occurs.

Trump eventually turned to Iran:

Iran’s leaders sew chaos, death and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors, borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, they plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from the treasury, seized valuable portions and looted the religious endowments to line their own pockets and to send their proxies to wage war. Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the agenda of aggression and expansion.

Trump added that this was why he decided to exit from the Iran nuclear deal and re-impose sanctions on Iran.

We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America” and threatens Israel with annihilation,” Trumps said. “They cannot possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth, we just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.”

Trump also touted the Jerusalem embassy move and leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN’s Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution,” Trump said. “Shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends.”

Trump added that the UNHRC had made no effort to reform itself, prompting the United States’ exit from the council until reform occurs.

The president also said that the United States would be holding the U.N. accountable by refusing to “pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.”

Read the full transcript of the speech here.

Iran Blames U.S., Israel for Attack on Military Parade

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani departs after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The Iranian regime is blaming the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for an attack on a military parade over the weekend.

On Saturday, four gunmen opened fire on a military parade in Ahvaz, a city in southwest Iran, killing 25 people. At least eight of the deceased were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, others included a disabled war veteran and a 4-year-old girl, according to the BBC.

Iran’s intelligence ministry announced on Monday that 22 people were arrested in connection to Saturday’s attack; Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday that the attack was levied by a group supported by a Gulf Arab state that is allied with the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“The small puppet countries in the region are backed by America, and the U.S. is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities,” Rouhani said.

Gen. Hossein Salami, the acting commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, said at the funeral for the deceased that the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia “will face the repercussions.”

We warn all of those behind the story, we will take revenge,” Salami said.

The United States has denied that they were behind the attack.

He [Rouhani] can blame us all he wants,” United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said on CNN. “The thing he’s got to do is look in the mirror.”

Two groups have claimed responsibility for the attack: ISIS and the Ahvaz National Resistance, an anti-government organization that is aiming for Iran’s Khuzestan province to be its own state.