Iran's Jews are buffeted by inflammatory rhetoric from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about "wiping Israel off the map" and denying the Holocaust, and a politically charged environment that often equates all Jews with Israel and routinely witnesses the burning of the "enemy" flag.A later description of an abandoned plan to attack the Israeli soccer team at the 1974 Asian Games (held in Tehran) is interesting, but most of the rest is in the same vein as the above. Protestations from Iranian Jews meant to distance their community from Middle East politics are not just corrections of some foreign misconception, but a grimly necessary self-defensive gesture from Jews living in a country whose government arms enemies of the population that now contains most of Persian Jewry. (By the way, I was led to this by the MPAC-UK site, which added the title "Zionists Say Jews are Opressed in Iran - But Is It True?" Morons.)
But despite what appears to be a dwindling minority under constant threat of persecution, Iranian Jews say they live in relative freedom in the Islamic Republic, remain loyal to the land of their birth, and are striving to separate politics from religion.
They caution against comparing Iran's official and visceral opposition to the creation of Israel and Zionism with the regime's acceptance of Jews and Judaism itself.
"If you think Judaism and Zionism are one, it is like thinking Islam and the Taliban are the same, and they are not," says Ciamak Moresadegh, chairman of the Tehran Jewish Committee. "We have common problems with Iranian Muslims. If a war were to start, we would also be a target. When a missile lands, it does not ask if you are a Muslim or a Jew. It lands."
Crossposted at Soccer Dad.