Jewish Journal

Memories from Iran: 30 Years After

The scenes coming out of the streets of Tehran in the aftermath of Friday’s Iranian elections remind many Iranian Jews now living in Los Angeles of their last memories before they fled their native land: students taking to the streets, protesting the current regime and seeking to bring about a change.  But that is where the similarities end.  Today’s students are seeking that the democratic will of the people be respected, no longer seeking to force their will upon the people.  Chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” have been replaced for a moment by “reformist” candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi’s supporters’ chants of “We Want Freedom” and “We Want Our Votes Back.”

Having now lived in history’s greatest experiment with democracy for 30 years, Iranian Jews living in Los Angeles support the Iranian people’s struggle towards a true and transparent democracy.  Recent developments in Iran, however, have called into question the truth and transparency of this most recent election.  With a government clampdown on the Internet, media and cell phone communications, and their ongoing refusal to permit international observers, the recent election results will be difficult, if not impossible, to verify.  Although a Mousavi victory is unlikely to bring about any immediate and significant policy changes in Iran with respect to their pursuit of nuclear weapons or their stance towards Israel and the United States, such a victory may encourage a new attitude amongst Iranian youth and to challenge their government to become a responsible member of the international community.

At the very least these recent elections have served to further expose the true face of the Iranian regime.  Even for those who have served as regime sympathizers and apologists, such as Roger Cohen of the New York Times, duplicitous election results and scenes of students being beaten simply for wanting their votes to be counted should leave no room for sympathy and apologies on behalf of the Iranian regime.  In his most recent op-ed published on June 14th, Roger Cohen states, “I erred in underestimating the brutality and cynicism of a regime that understands the uses of ruthlessness.”  Although such an observation is crystal clear to those Iranian Jews living in Los Angeles, it is now becoming clear to those like Roger Cohen who had been duped by the Iranian regime like many of Iran’s own citizens.

Although Iranian Jews living in Los Angeles are under no illusions that the chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” will come to an end with a Mousavi victory, there is a belief that a free and fair election will bring the voices of more moderate elements of Iranian society to the forefront.  With that will come hope that these deafening chants may slowly fade into the past.

And as for young Persian Jews in Los Angeles, they are speaking out in force . . . on Facebook.  Select status updates from the last 48 hours include: 

thinking about putting the bar exam on hold to lead revolution in iran—- eat it mahmoud!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a little graphic. Not for the faint of heart. Is this freedom? To get BEATEN for protesting?!
If by robust you mean fraudulent.. then yes good job prez
  by re-electing ahmadinejad, iran is committing suicide. no one, not even the mullahs are stupid enough to believe israel is gonna stand by and let iran wipe her off the map.
is proud of Iranians for not taking this injustice lying down
democracy?  hitler was elected democratically. so was hamas in gaza. and now ahmadinejad? why do our presidents wish to spread democracy so badly? bush and obama have it all wrong.
Doesn’t look like a landslide victory to me…
Ahmadinejad and his regime calling in every chance they have to destroy the Israeli state with all jewish people inside, we cant let it happen again
Get up, stand up: stand up for your rights!
Is glued to satellite tv watching protests and listening to eye witness reports from Tehran….
“Rivals in Iran Both Claim Election Victory”—I know this is a sensitive topic, but LOL!

Finally, for a critical briefing on the Iranian election and Iran’s nuclear program, please join 30 Years After Thursday June 18th at the Simon Wiesenthal Center as we host former CIA Director James Woolsey (” title=”” target=”_blank”>  Zolekhian, a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, and Yebri, a graduate of Yale University and USC Law School, are attorneys in Los Angeles.