Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Jews in Iran

Jews in Iran

Ratings: (0)|Views: 23|Likes:
Published by mbahellxtr

More info:

Published by: mbahellxtr on Sep 11, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as DOC, PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





THE JEWS OF IRAN1948 Jewish population: 100,0002004: ~25,0001
The Jewish community of Persia, modern-day Iran, is one of the oldest in the Diaspora, andits historical roots reach back to the 6th century B.C.E., the time of the First Temple. Their history in the pre-Islamic period is intertwined with that of the Jews of neighboring Babylon.Cyrus, the first of the Archemid dynasty, conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.E. and permitted theJewish exiles to return to the Land of Israel, bringing the First Exile to an end. The Jewishcolonies were scattered from centers in Babylon to Persian provinces and cities such asHamadan and Susa. The books of Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel give a favorabledescription of the relationship of the Jews to the court of the Achaemids at Susa.Under the Sassanid dynasty (226-642 C.E.), the Jewish population in Persia grewconsiderably and spread throughout the region; nevertheless, Jews suffered intermittentoppression and persecution. The invasion by Arab Muslims in 642 C.E. terminated theindependence of Persia, installed Islam as the state religion, and made a deep impact on theJews by changing their sociopolitical status.Throughout the 19th century, Jews were persecuted and discriminated against. Sometimeswhole communities were forced to convert. During the 19th century, there was considerableemigration to the Land of Israel, and the Zionist movement spread throughout thecommunity.Under the Phalevi Dynasty, established in 1925, the country was secularized and orientedtoward the West. This greatly benefited the Jews, who were emancipated and played animportant role in the economy and in cultural life. On the eve of the Islamic Revolution in1979, 80,000 Jews lived in Iran. In the wake of the upheaval, tens of thousands of Jews,especially the wealthy, left the country, leaving behind vast amounts of property.The Council of the Jewish Community, which was established after World War II, is therepresentative body of the community. The Jews also have a representative in parliamentwho is obligated by law to support Iranian foreign policy and its Anti-Zionist position.Despite the official distinction between "Jews," "Zionists," and "Israel," the most commonaccusation the Jews encounter is that of maintaining contacts with Zionists. The Jewishcommunity does enjoy a measure of religious freedom but is faced with constant suspicion of cooperating with the Zionist state and with "imperialistic America" — both such activities arepunishable by death. Jews who apply for a passport to travel abroad must do so in a specialbureau and are immediately put under surveillance. The government does not generallyallow all members of a family to travel abroad at the same time to prevent Jewish emigration. Again, the Jews live under the status of dhimmi, with the restrictions im posed on religiousminorities. Jewish leaders fear government reprisals if they draw attention to officialmistreatment of their community.Iran's official government-controlled media often issues anti-Semitic propaganda. A primeexample is the government's publishing of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notoriousCzarist forgery, in 1994 and 1999.2 Jews also suffer varying degrees of officially sanctioned
discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education, and publicaccommodations.3The Islamization of the country has brought about strict control over Jewish educationalinstitutions. Before the revolution, there were some 20 Jewish schools functioning throughoutthe country. In recent years, most of these have been closed down. In the remaining schools,Jewish principals have been replaced by Muslims. In Teheran there are still three schools inwhich Jewish pupils constitute a majority. The curriculum is Islamic, and Persian is forbiddenas the language of instruction for Jewish studies. Special Hebrew lessons are conducted onFridays by the Orthodox Otzar ha-Torah organization, which is responsible for Jewishreligious education. Saturday is no longer officially recognized as the Jewish sabbath, andJewish pupils are compelled to attend school on that day. There are three synagogues inTeheran, but since 1994, there has been no rabbi in Iran, and the bet din does not function. 4Following the overthrow of the shah and the declaration of an Islamic state in 1979, Iransevered relations with Israel. The country has subsequently supported many of the Islamicterrorist organizations that target Jews and Israelis, particularly the Lebanon-based,Hezbollah. Nevertheless, Iran's Jewish community is the largest in the Middle East outsideIsrael.On the eve of Passover in 1999, 13 Jews from Shiraz and Isfahan in southern Iran werearrested and accused of spying for Israel and the United States. Those arrested include arabbi, a ritual slaughterer and teachers. In September 2000, an Iranian appeals court uphelda decision to imprison ten of the thirteen Jews accused of spying for Israel. In the appealscourt, ten of the accused were found guilty of cooperating with Israel and were given prisonterms ranging from two to nine years. Three of the accused were found innocent in the firsttrial.5 In March 2001, one of the imprisoned Jews was released, a second was freed inJanuary 2002, the remaining eight were set free in late October 2002. The last fiveapparently were released on furlough for an indefinite period, leaving them vulnerable tofuture arrest. Three others were reportedly pardoned by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah AliKhamenei.6 At least 13 Jews have been executed in Iran since the Islamic revolution 19 years ago, mostof them for either religious reasons or their connection to Israel. For example, in May 1998,Jewish businessman Ruhollah Kakhodah-Zadeh was hanged in prison without a publiccharge or legal proceeding, apparently for assisting Jews to emigrate.7Today, Iran's Jewish population is the second largest in the Middle East, after Israel. Reportsvary as to the condition and treatment of the small, tight-knit community, and the populationof Iranian Jews can only be estimated due to the community’s isolation from world Jewry
IRAN: Life of Jews Living in IranIran remains home to Jewish enclave.By Barbara Demick
TEHRAN - The Jewish women in the back rows of the synagogue wear long garments in thetraditional Iranian style, but instead of chadors, their heads are covered with cheerful,flowered scarves. The boys in their skullcaps, with Hebrew prayer books tucked under their arms, scamper down the aisles to grab the best spots near the lush, turquoise Persian carpetof the altar. This is Friday night, Shabbat - Iranian style, and the synagogue in an affluentneighborhood of North Tehran is filled to capacity with more than 400 worshipers.It is one of the many paradoxes of the Islamic Republic of Iran that this most virulent anti-Israeli country supports by far the largest Jewish population of any Muslim country.While Jewish communities in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria have all butvanished, Iran is home to 25,000 - some here say 35,000 - Jews. The Jewish population isless than half the number that lived here before the Islamic revolution of 1979. But the Jewshave tried to compensate for their diminishing numbers by adopting a new religious fervor.''The funny thing is that before the Islamic revolution, you would see maybe 20 old men in thesynagogue,'' whispers Nahit Eliyason, 48, as she climbs over four other women to find one of the few vacant seats. ''Now the place is full. You can barely find a seat.'' Parvis Yashaya, afilm producer who heads Tehran's Jewish community, adds: ''We are smaller, but we arestronger in some ways.''Tehran has 11 functioning synagogues, many of them with Hebrew schools. It has twokosher restaurants, and a Jewish hospital, an old-age home and a cemetery. There is aJewish representative in the Iranian parliament. There is a Jewish library with 20,000 titles,its reading room decorated with a photograph of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Khomeini protection
Iran's Jewish community is confronted by contradictions. Many of the prayers uttered insynagogue, for instance, refer to the desire to see Jerusalem again. Yet there is no postalservice or telephone contact with Israel, and any Iranian who dares travel to Israel facesimprisonment and passport confiscation. ''We are Jews, not Zionists. We are a religiouscommunity, not a political one,'' Yashaya said.Before the revolution, Jews were well-represented among Iran's business elite, holding keyposts in the oil industry, banking and law, as well as in the traditional bazaar. The wave of anti-Israeli sentiment that swept Iran during the revolution, as well as large-scaleconfiscations of private wealth, sent thousands of the more affluent Jews fleeing to theUnited States or Israel. Those remaining lived in fear of pogroms, or massacres.But Khomeini met with the Jewish community upon his return from exile in Paris and issued a''fatwa'' decreeing that the Jews were to be protected. Similar edicts also protect Iran's tinyChristian minority.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->