THERE ARE NO MODERATES IN THE IRANIAN REGIME! by Karmel Melamed Jewish Journal of Los Angeles (online)
Last year around this time many of my friends in the American Ashkenazi community were troubled by the strong opposition many Iranian American Jews including myself had to the “Iran Deal”. Unfortunately they believed the “talking points” put out by the Obama administration that the Iranian regime had somehow magically became “moderate” overnight with the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president. This month as a year has passed after the signing of the “Iran Deal” it seems as if many in the American Jewish community are finally and slowly waking up from their slumber to realize that they were fed lies by the current U.S. administration about the Iranian regime being “moderate” as the behavior and actions of the Iranian regime has been more dangerous and even more radical than before.
A large number of Iranian Jews now living in the U.S. either fled Iran or escaped that totalitarian radical Islamic regime in the months and years since its 1979 Islamic revolution. I know this personally as my family and I fled Iran in 1980 after our innocent Jewish family member was wrongly executed on false charges of spying for America and Israel. As the Jews of Iran, we quickly realized that the new Islamic regime that took power in Iran turned religious minorities including Jews into third class citizens and left them in constant fear for their lives or fear of seizure of their assets by the regime on fabricated charges. We all quickly realized the true anti-Semitic nature of this Islamic regime and fled Iran because of the dangerous actions of the ayatollahs ruling the country. This regime in Iran continues to be a regime that not only has zero tolerance for Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and Baha’is, but imprisons and executes Iranian Muslims who oppose the regime’s brutal Islamic dictatorship.
Over the last near four decades, we the Jews of Iran who live in the West, have spoken out about the anti-Semitic, violent and unpredictable nature of the current Iranian regime to our brethren in America by retelling our stories of imprisonment, torture, property confiscation, anti-Semitism and even execution of our family members. Our stories have all fallen on deaf ears as American Jews and other Americans who supported the Obama administration falsely believed administration officials who made claims that Rouhani and his regime had spontaneously turned a page and miraculously become “moderate”. They believed the propaganda put out by the “smiling and quietly spoken Rouhani” during his 2013 media blitz of the U.S. They believed the false stories of the Iranian regime becoming instantly “moderate” that was put out by the regime’s apologist groups such as the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) and J-Street. Yet today after one year, the hard facts about the Iranian regime’s evil actions and dismal human rights record are indeed unpleasant and should stir the conscious of anyone who values life, liberty, tolerance and human decency.
Actions speak louder than words and the Iranian regime’s actions during the Rouhani years are anything but moderate. According to Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations top expert on the human rights in Iran, in 2015, executions in Iran were at “the highest rate in over two decades,” with at least 966 individuals being executed. According to Shaheed’s recent report, in 2014, 753 people were executed in Iran and “at least 73 juvenile offenders were reportedly executed between 2005 and 2015”. Shaheed’s report also states that since the implementation of the amended Islamic Penal Code in 2013, many prisoners in Iran reportedly convicted of “national security crimes” were arrested merely for the peaceful exercise of a right to freedom of assembly and association. Just last week more than 30 students who partied at a graduation ceremony in northern Iran had each received 99 lashes each for violating the Islamic regime’s morality code since they danced and drank alcohol at their festivities. Likewise the Iranian regime has not stopped its segregation of men and women in public areas, nor stopped its harassment and imprisonment of LGBT, nor stopped the arrest and torture of union and labor organizers, nor stopped the censorship of journalists, writers, artists, and musicians.
Despite what Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif might say to U.S. media outlets, the Iranian regime continues to spread anti-Western and anti-Semitic propaganda on their state-sponsored television programs and online sites. Just recently, the Iranian regime’s Islamic Propaganda Organization that runs the “Sarcheshmeh Cultural Institute” organized the second official Holocaust Cartoon competition in Tehran that offer up to $50,000 to cartoonist who featured the most “interesting Holocaust denial and anti-Israel cartoon”. Another backer of this Holocaust cartoon competition is the “Owj Media and Arts Organization” that is directly affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards. Both of these organizations and Iranian state-run media outlets boasted about their organization of such disgusting anti-Semitic events. Again how can anyone in their right mind believe the Iranian regime today under Rouhani has become “moderate” when such revolting events are funded and sponsored by entities affiliated with the regime. If Rouhani was such a “peace-loving” and “moderate” leader, then why has he not once spoken out against these vile Holocaust denial events or ordered them shut down? The reason is simple, he’s no moderate and has no objections to such events.
But the anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial garbage spewed by the Iranian regime is nothing new for the Iranian regime or a recent development under Rouhani. This disgusting behavior has a long and proud tradition dating back to the inception of the Islamic republic in Iran. The regime has always maintained warm relations with notorious anti-Semites, including former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and other American neo-Nazi groups. Furthermore, the Iranian regime has a long history of ties to European neo-Nazis groups and Holocaust deniers. For example, the Iranian regime proudly announced many years ago that it paid for the legal defense in France of 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. 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.
According to Iranian Jewish activists I have interviewed in Los Angeles, many believe the sources of anti-Semitism in Iran today not only come from Iranian regime “hardliners”, but also other more “moderate” factions in the regime. Long before Ahmadinejad made a name for himself among the anti-Semites, the Iranian regime, under the supposed “moderate” President Mohammad Khatami, had begun funding Holocaust deniers and publishing their materials in Iran and all over the world. During the Green Revolution in Iran from 2009 to 2010, several “moderate” leaders in Iran staged public media campaigns of attacking the Islamic hardliners in Iran, not for their atrocities against the Iranian population or their Islamist fanaticism, but for allegedly being of Jewish descent! To accuse someone of being Jewish in Iran is equivalent to calling someone a child molester in the U.S.
Yet even worse, the regime’s anti-Semitism is not only limited to within Iran, but the Iranian ayatollahs have also tried to export it to the U.S. in recent years. I reported myself in March 2015 that Los Angeles based Iranian-Jewish activists launched a grass-roots campaign to boycott performances by Akbar Abdi, a notorious Iranian-Muslim anti-Semitic comedian who had received a visa from the U.S. State Department and planned to perform at various venues in the U.S., including performing Farsi-language shows in Southern California. A video on YouTube from 2013 shows Abdi being given a film award by Ahmadinejad and using derogatory terms to describe Jews. The campaign against Abdi ultimately resulted in the cancellation of his show in Los Angeles, as well as other shows in Southern California.
As if all of these actions and recent history of radical anti-Semitism were not proof enough of the Iranian regime’s lack of “moderate” leaders and “moderate behavior”, the Iranian regime’s leadership throughout this year has gone above and beyond to show America and the world that they are anything but moderate. For example, despite the recently signed “Nuclear Deal”, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard launched two ballistic missiles in recent months. On each missile’s side, printed in both Farsi and Hebrew, were the words “Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth.” Both missiles had a reported range of 1,250 miles and actually flew some 850 miles in tests. (By the way, Israel is only 600 miles from the Iranian border). The Iranian regime’s Navy has also fired missiles near U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf and also piloted a drone above an American aircraft carrier earlier this year in the same area. Then, just to ensure that there was no misunderstanding, in January, the “moderate” Rouhani ordered his defense minister to speed up production and testing of long range missiles. Let us of course not forget the Iranian regime’s thugs at sea who seized two boats manned by U.S. sailors in the Persian Gulf, held them captive and then humiliated them in front of international media news outlets.
Again and again, if American Jews and even American non-Jews look at the very real facts and crystal clear actions of the current Iranian regime, they will realize that there are indeed no moderates operating in the regime. The term “moderate” is a misnomer and lie spun by Obama administration officials and pro-Iranian regime lobby groups in the U.S. who want to hide the clear brutality and dangerous nature of Iran’s radical Islamic regime. These individuals are either totally delusional about the dangerous nature of Iran’s regime or in some way stand to economically benefit from sanctions being removed on the Iranian regime’s officials, ayatollahs and Iranian Revolutionary Guard. We in America and in the free world must recognize the true brutal and dangerous nature of this current Iranian regime by re-imposing sanctions on this regime before it regains its economic strength and then spreads its cancerous form of radical Shiite Islamic dogma and terrorism to our shores. Wake up America, there are no moderates in the Iranian regime! Just take it from us in the Iranian American Jewish community whose families suffered tremendously at the hands of this evil Iranian regime during the last 37 years.