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Friday, 28 August 2015

Stephen Pollard Jewish Chronicle Editor & Apologist for Europe's anti-Semitic politicians

The Hypocrisy of Jeremy Corbyn’s Accusers

'What have they left to throw?'
On 7th August the Daily Mail branded Jeremy Corbyn as someone who was happy to associate with holocaust deniers and one Paul Eisen in particular.  Jeremy was alleged to have given money to Deir Yassin Remembered, a pro-Palestinian organisation that morphed under Eisen into an organisation of holocaust deniers, loony tunes and flat earthists. 
Whilst his opponents speak in phone booths - Corbyn's meetings overflow with 'infiltrators'
On 12th August the Jewish Chronicle picked up on the theme asking Corbyn seven loaded questions as to his relationship with Eisen and various alleged anti-Semites.  The list of anti-Semites included not only the Eisen, but Carlos Latuff a Palestinian cartoonist, whose cartoons often employ a Nazi metaphor.  The Jewish Chronicle’s list also included the leader of Israel’s Northern Islamic movement, Raed Salah. 

The only Labour candidate capable of winning back Scottish Labour seats
The Case of Raed Salah

Raed Salah  Wins Deportation Case After CST Evidence Shown to be Fixed
In June 2011 Raed Salah was banned from entering Britain but as no one was notified he entered the country for a speaking tour before being arrested.  The information supplied to Home Secretary Theresa May by the Community Security Trust [CST] , who sought to deport him, on the grounds that he had allegedly made a series of antisemitic statements in sermons and a poem, and that his presence in Britain was not conducive to the public good, was ‘very weak’ according to Justice Ockleton, the Vice-President of the Upper Immigration Tribunal.  Theresa May was ‘misled’ as to a poem by Salah and the misleading was perpetrated by the CST, which is notorious for physically attacking left-wing and anti-Zionist Jews at Jewish meetings.  It combines two roles – defending Jewish premises from attack and attacking Jewish opponents of Zionism.
Mark Gardener of CST with fellow bigot - Richard Littlejohn
David Hearst [Theresa May's haste to ban Raed Salah will be repented at leisurequotes David Miller, a sociology professor from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland, who submitted his report on the CST as part of the evidence. It gives a short history of the CST and its “controversial monitoring of pro-Palestinian activists,” summarizing that it has a “tendency to treat denunciation of Israel or Zionism as evidence of anti-Semitism.”  
Theresa May, thanks to the CST, bungles a political deportation
As Robert Lambert, a retired head of the Metropolitan police's Muslim Contact Unit, and David Miller noted, the CST:  "failed to distinguish between antisemitism and criticism of the actions of the Israeli state and therefore gives an unbalanced perspective."  [Palestinian activist wins appeal against deportation

, Ben Quinn]
Raed Salah
Justice Ockelton said on 8 February that the original text of a poem by Salah was “completely different” from how it appeared in a government order banning him from UK territory. The original banning order had accused Salah of anti-Semitism, citing an altered version of the poem. Raed Salah deportation case disintegrates in UK court, but verdict still to follow 
Fighting 'racism' is a lucrative business for Gardener - some £150,000 a year
According to Ockelton, the decision by Theresa May to ban Salah had been based not on the original text, but a “Jerusalem Post inaccurate summary” of the poem,  entitled Civil Liberties. In a June 2009 editorial, the Post had added the words “you Jews” to the poem, making it appear anti-Semitic. The original Arabic version was printed in a 2002 edition of an Islamic Movement publication.  
They've moved on from supporting Hitler and Moseley
A UK Border Agency document of 21 June 2011 admitted that the agency had not been able to find the original text “despite extensive research.”  See Court victory for Raed Salah deals blow to UK “anti-terror” policy  Despite this May went ahead with her decision to ban Salah on 23 June.  The original text of the poem later emerged, as revealed by The Electronic Intifada in October. 
Raed Salah
The Post article was cited by people like Henry Jackson Society Research Director, Michael Weiss, (“PSC comes to Parliament …,” The Telegraph politics blog, 29 June 2011) to misleadingly portray Salah as an anti-Semite.  Such is the quality of Henry Jackson Society researchers.  Rosenorn-Lanng, a caseworker, had earlier admitted that the UK Border Agency had not sought the original text of the poem, relying instead on Internet sources.
Surprising given the flack thrown at him
But Salah was clear that the poem was addressed to all perpetrators of injustice, regardless of religion, race or group. He pointed out that his poem also addressed Arab oppressors with certain references to the Quran, and also addresses Pharaoh as an oppressor. Salah had said that Pharaoh was an Arab. And that he had oppressed the followers of Moses and that “God is not a racist,
Aside from the distorted poem, the other main citation of the government was a speech Salah gave in Jerusalem in 2007, in which he had talked about Israeli soldiers shedding the blood of Palestinians. The citation had reportedly included the line: “Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the holy bread.”
Hostile press coverage in Israel inserted the word “Jewish” in square brackets before the words “holy bread” (“Islamic Movement head charged with incitement to racism, violence,” Haaretz, 29 January 2008). 
Jeremy Corbyn packs them in as Yvette, Andy and Liz speak to empty rooms
Contrary to the assertions of the British press, Raed Salah was not convicted of making blood libel allegations against Jews.  He was convicted of racist incitement.  That might sound like a semantic difference, but note that according to the Jerusalem Post, ‘The conviction was a reversal of an acquittal on those charges by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in 2013 when that court convicted him of incitement to violence, but acquitted him of racist incitement.’  In other words the evidence before what is a colonial court for Israeli Arabs was not strong enough to convict him of the charge of racism before the lower court.  It was a political decision by the higher Jerusalem District Court that found him guilty.  Clearly the evidence was not unambiguous.  Islamic Movement leader Salah convicted of racist incitement on appeal  
An example of Latuff's anti-Semitic cartoons
When the Home Office’s Neil Sheldon QC accused Salah of invoking the blood libel, Salah responded that: “this interpretation is out of bounds, and has no origin in fact.” He then went into some detail, saying that his purpose had been to liken the Israeli occupation forces to the inquisitions in Europe that used to shed the blood of children, and which used religion to perpetuate injustice.  UK government conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism in Salah trial
Applauding the fair-mindedness of New Labour
Sheldon admitted that the government had relied on a “misquotation” of Salah’s poem in The Jerusalem Post. Salah’s lawyer Raza Husain argued the misquotation could only have been a “malign” attempt to defame the character of his client, not an innocent misunderstanding.  Ockelton questioned the value of May’s decision to ban since it was based on incorrect information.
In the Appeal hearing Dr. Stefan Sperl, an expert in Arabic poetry from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, gave an analysis of the original text of a poem by Salah called “A Message to the Oppressors” saying it was addressed to all “perpetrators of injustice,” whether Jews or not. He said a Jerusalem Post article characterizing it as anti-Semitic was deliberately misleading. A version with the words “you Jews” inserted into the poem seems to have been used in the UKBA document.
So the allegation, by Cathy Newman of Channel 4 and others, that Jeremy Corbyn had associated with someone convicted of holocaust denial is patently false.
[much of the research quoted above was done by Asa Winstanley, a correspondent for the Electronic Intifada]

The Invention of anti-Semitism – The Lies of Stephen Pollard

Stephen Pollard - It's the nearest he gets to what others call deep thought
The key protagonist in the allegations of anti-Semitism and associating with holocaust deniers is however Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle and member of the cold war Henry Jackson society.  Pollard is ex-editor of the Daily Express, owned by Britain’s largest porn merchant Richmond Desmond. 
Pollard is an Israel firster.  A dedicated Zionist who has turned the Jewish Chronicle from a newspaper with strong Zionist allegiances into a Zionist propaganda rag which brooks no opposition.  It has completely cut out of its pages not only anti-Zionists but non-Zionist dissidents like Tony Lerman and Dr Brian Klug and indeed anyone who doesn’t toe the Israel right or wrong line.
Ex-Editor of Sunday Express - owned by Britain's largest porn merchant Richard Desmond - He's turned the Jewish Chronicle into Political Porn
Pollard has taken to heart the traditional Zionist line that anti-Semitism is not a Zionist concern unless it concerns anti-Zionists such as Jeremy Corbyn.  But mindful of the libel laws and knowing his own case is reliant on guilt-by-association, as befits a McCarthyist, Pollard denies that he is accusing Corbyn of anti-Semitism. 
Robert Zile and the European Conservatives that Cameron formed
Pollard hasn’t always been so keen to call out an anti-Semite, especially when the anti-Semite is a far-right politician who is also a Zionist.  One such was Michal Kaminski MEP of the Polish Law & Justice Party and Chairman of the European Conservatives and Reform Group.  Another such is Robert Zile of the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party [LNNK], who were both guests at the Conservative Party Conference in 2009 and of the Conservative Friends of Israel.
Kaminski of Poland's Law & Justice Party
To understand the controversy at the time one has to understand the background.  Kaminski was an MP for an area of Poland including a village Jedwabne.  On July 10, 1941, more than 300 Jews were burnt alive in a barn by their Polish neighbours, in a Polish village Jedwabne under the watchful eye of the SS and Order Police.  Although over 60% of Jedwabne's pre-war population was Jewish, today there are no Jews left of what was a 300 year old community. [“Burning Alive” by Andrzej Kaczynski, published May 5, 2000 in the Polish newspaper “Rzeczpospolita”,  Introduction by Morlan Ty Rogers, June 27, 2000]
A Somewhat Flustered Fascist
The massacre in Jedwabne was the subject of a book by Polish-Jewish historian Jan Tomasz Gross.[Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, May 2000]  It caused a far-reaching public debate that split public opinion. [The Legacy of Jedwabne]   Most of the population of Jedwabne opposed President Aleksander Kwasniewski’s belief that a national apology should be made, in Jedwabne itself, to mark the massacre's sixtieth anniversary (10 July 2001).  Michal Kaminski, was instrumental in urging Jedwabne residents to oppose the President's apology and boycott the ceremonial event in 2001.

The campaign against an apology had ‘strongly anti-Semitic overtones,’ according to Dr Rafal Pankowski, author of The Populist Radical Right in Poland. The Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich said: “Mr Kaminski was a member of NOP, a group that is openly far-right and neo-Nazi. Anyone who would want to align himself with the Committee to Defend the Good Name of Jedwabne… needs to understand with what and by whom he is being represented.Yet again, Tories fawn overthe far right, By Alex Hern, October 6, 2011 
Kaminski - a Skinhead Politician
In an interview with Martin Bright of the Jewish Chronicle [EXCLUSIVE Michal Kaminski: 'I'm no antisemite'] 9.10.09. Kaminski stated that

‘If you are asking the Polish nation to apologise for the crime made in Jedwabne, you would require from the whole Jewish nation to apologise for what some Jewish Communists did in Eastern Poland.’
It was, of course, a false comparison.  Poland, where anti-Semitism had been endemic among the middle class, sections of the peasantry and the military/aristocracy, had not been an easy place to live for Jews before the war.  The welcome given by many Jews to the Soviet invasion was therefore understandable.  But the fact that some Jews collaborated with the Soviet invaders in 1939 doesn’t mean that all Jews or the ‘Jewish nation’ should be held collectively guilty.  The mass murder of the Jews of Jedwabne, which was carried out by only a minority of Poles in the village, is something that the Polish state should apologise for in its own terms.  Yet Pollard was quite happy with this explanation.
In his interview with Bright, Kaminski claimed that he did not remember giving an interview to the ‘ultra-nationalist’ Nacza Polska, when he is alleged to have said he would only apologise for Jedwabne when “someone from the Jewish side will apologise for what the Jews did during the Soviet occupation between 1939 and 1941, for the mass collaboration of the Jewish people with the Soviet occupier.”

He also denied wearing the Chrobry sword, the symbol of the National Radical Camp Falanga, a Catholic fascist group formed in 1935. He issues a categorical denial: “No, I never wear it. I don’t even know which symbol you are referring to. In a later statement to the Jewish Chronicle he admited that he did wear the sword but that it was After 1989 it was used as one of the symbols of the Christian National Union and many Conservative politicians would wear it, including politicians now in the Civic Platform. In recent years it has been taken as a symbol by the Far Right.’  

According to Pollard ‘The real story behind the accusations against Michal Kaminski has nothing to with antisemitism.’ Rather ‘It is, rather, a grubby story about the EU and base politics.’  As for joining the NOP, well Kaminski was only 15 and and anyway ‘when he joined the NOP in 1987 when it was still an underground movement.’

Indeed the Jews had no better friend than Kaminski.  In Poland's Kaminski is not an antisemite: he's a friend to Jews  Pollard argued that Kaminski’s concern was merely that a national apology for Jedwabne would let the actual killers ‘off the hook’. It had nothing to do with Poles against Jews, ‘but was a vile crime committed by specific individuals.’  It is  true that not all Poles are guilty.  The Polish working-class had an honourable record of fighting fascism and anti-Semitism, though Pollard as a Zionist is the last person to make such an argument, but as a national minority Poland’s Jews suffered hideous anti-Semitism and an apology on behalf of the whole Polish nation would be at least a token act of amends.  But Pollard argued, since President Kwasniewski ‘was a former communist’ what was required was an apology for the ‘antisemitic campaign of 1968’.  Pollard’s anti-communism trumps his alleged concern for anti-Semitism.  I’m not aware that in the 1968 ‘anti-Zionist’ campaign 300 Jews were burnt alive.

Replying to an article by the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland, Pollard also dismisses the fact that Roberts Zile's Latvian party, the LNNK "have played a leading part in the annual parade honouring veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen-SS". Pollard says ‘I know the facts about Kaminski, but I can think of no source for evidence against Zile other than those who so disgracefully besmirch Kaminski.’  The information was, of course, widely known and on March 8 2012 Emma Stock wrote, in the Jewish Chronicle, an article Calls to ban Baltic neo-Nazi marches in which she referred to the fact that ‘Disturbingly, the Riga march is supported by Latvian officials and MEPs such as Robert Zile, who sits alongside UK MEPS in the new European Conservatives and Reformists party in the European Parliament.’  Or Pollard can consult The little European problem that the Conservatives would prefer to forget’ by his Political Correspondent, Martin Bright on October 11 2012: ‘Still more troubling for the Jewish community is the hard-right Latvian MEP Robert Zile, whose also sits in alliance with the Tories in Europe. Mr Zile is a long-time supporter of the Latvian “Legionnaires Day” rally which each March celebrates the Waffen SS.’  For some strange reason, Pollard hasn’t seen to update his apologia for Zile and the LNNK.  He must be too busy dealing with his Corbyn problem!
Mickey Davis of the Jewish Leadership Council and mining company Xstrara - the big Zionist Capitalists who give the orders to the Board of Deputies were not happy with anything questioning their fascist friends
Toby Helm argues  that "As a local MP, Kaminski played a key role in the campaign questioning the Polish responsibility for the Jedwabne massacre. The campaign had strongly antisemitic overtones," quoting Dr Rafal Pankowski, a member of the Never Again Association and author of The Populist Radical Right in Poland.  Is Michal Kaminski fit to lead the Tories in Europe?

But when Kaminski was contacted he denied all. "I never tried to stop the commemoration, that is not true," he said. He had always been in favour, he insisted. But when asked if he had, as the local MP, attended the event in Jedwabne, he couldn’t remember!

Kaminski also denied having conducted the interview with Nasza Polska or telling the paper – which is known for carrying far-right material – that the Poles should not apologise until the Jews apologised to them. "I never said it. It is absolutely not true,"

However the Observer contacted the editor-in-chief Piotr Jakucki, who confirmed that the interview had been conducted with Kaminski by the paper's Kaja Bogomilska and that the article had been published on 20 March 2001. He also sent a hard copy.

When the row over Kaminski and Zile first blew up, the Conservatives achieved what they ‘believed to be a decisive counter-strike’.  They obtained the support of Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, who leaped to Kaminski's defence, saying there was nothing to suggest the Polish MEP was an anti-Semite.  Pollard claimed there was not "a shred of evidence" that Kaminski had demanded a Jewish apology for crimes against Poles as a condition for Polish contrition.

As Denis MacShane wrote in ‘The curious case of Michal Kaminski’  Kaminski made a Polish apology condition on ‘someone from the Jewish side’ apologising ‘for what the Jews did during the Soviet occupation between 1939 and 1941. As if Jews were not also Polish.  It seems that the visit to Yad Vashem had had no effect too on his consciousness (and maybe, being a propaganda showpiece it didn’t).  However half the Jews, 3 million, who died in the holocaust were Polish.

And further evidence of Kaminski’s anti-Semitism is provided by Craig Murray, who became the British Ambassador in Uzbekistan and who was then First Secretary at the British Embassy in Poland. 

When Alexander Kasniewski defeated Lech Walesa to become President of Poland in 1995, Kaminski was involved in lobbying the media to publish stories stating that Kwasniewski’s grandmother was Jewish. That accusation became the focal point of the entire election campaign. ‘Michal Kaminski, The Tories and Polish Anti-Semitism  

Antony Lerman observed that Kaminski’s Law & Justice party, was hardly a home for anti-racists.  Citing the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Racism and Antisemitism, it contained radical nationalists and former members of antisemitic organisations and maintained a strategic alliance with Radio Maryja, "the mass-audience nationalist Catholic radio station and a key force on the far right", which gives airtime to antisemitic demagogues.  None of this stopped Kaminski speaking to to the Global Counter-Terrorism Conference in Herzliya, Israel in September 2009.  But is Kaminski good for the Jews?

In ‘Kaminski apologists play with firePeter Beaumont notes how the defenders of Kaminski so easily resorted to anti-Semitism.  David Miliband, when he criticised the Tories for their alliance with the Kaminski and Zile, (opportunistically no doubt) the comments of Tory supporters either defended members of Zile's party who marched with the Latvian SS, because they fought the Bolsheviks, or ‘more scandalously, suggested that Miliband had no "right to comment on Nazism", as he was a Jew with "Bolshevik grandparents".

However, to be fair to Pollard, he wasn’t alone in having a problem with criticism of the Tories far right and neo-Nazi allies in the European Parliament. [Leaders split over David Cameron's Euro allies

When Vivien Wineman of the Board of Deputies wrote to David Cameron concerning the Tories’ allies in the European Parliament it caused a rift with the Jewish Leadership Council [read big Zionist capitalists]  One JLC member described colleagues as “livid” at the timing of the letter. Another said he was “incandescent”.

A senior Jewish Conservative said: “The Board… has been manipulated by left-wing interests into a completely inappropriate position. The irony is that the new Tory European group will be the most pro-Israel lobby group.”  And this is true, anti-Semites are often the Zionist best friend.  A point made by Pollard in his original defence of Kaminski ‘David Miliband's insult to Michal Kaminski is contemptible’  Far from being an antisemite, Mr Kaminski is about as pro-Israel an MEP as exists.’

Dean Godson, of the Policy Exchange think tank, accused Wineman and others who had criticised the Tories' links with Robert Zile of Latvia's Fatherland and Freedom party [LNNK], of “a certain form of left McCarthyism’.   

It would seem that those who are so keen to examine the finest details of those Jeremy Corbyn has encountered over the years  are nonetheless happy to give a carte blanche to bona fide 24 carat anti-Semites.  Hypocrisy doesn’t somehow seem a strong enough word to describe the behaviour of the Stephen Pollard’s of this word. Perhaps given the credentials of his friend and ex-employer Desmond, we can call it Political Pornography.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Iran's Jewish Community

An interesting article on the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel.  It’s strange that a country that is pilloried as run by the ‘new Nazis’ happens to have a Jewish community that, unlike Nazi Germany, has a representative in their Parliament and is remarkably free.  Unfortunately, in the hands of Zionism, ‘anti-Semitism’ is a malleable instrument.

Of course Iranian Jews do not have full equality with Moslem Iranians although it would seem to be much greater than that which Arabs experience in Israel.  However within the context of a repressive society for Muslims too, with one of the world's highest execution rates, Iran's Jewish community is living proof of the lies of Zionism.

Tony Greenstein

 How Iran’s Jews Survive in Mullahs’ World
August 18, 2015 Image: Getty Images

The first thing I noticed about Shahab Shahamifar as we strolled to synagogue on a Saturday morning in July was his yarmulke. It was a medium-size, black knitted one, and he was wearing it as we walked the busy streets of Tehran.

Then I noticed that no one looked up.

Later, when the rabbi went on a bit too long with a sermon on the week’s haftara portion, I left services early, and Shahamifar rushed out to accompany me the first block or so before returning to pray. This time, in addition to his yarmulke he wore a long tallit, a prayer shawl, also with no sense of self-consciousness.

Dr. Siamak Moreh Sedgh, the Jewish community’s elected representative in Iran’s parliament Image: Larry Cohler-Esses
Saturday is a workday in Iran’s capital, and women in chadors and men in business suits hurried by us without so much as a glance. Moreover, the night before, when several hundred worshippers gathered for Friday night services at the Yousef Abad Synagogue in North Tehran, I noticed, too, that the sanctuary’s large entrance remained open to the street as people spilled out for breaks to shmooze in crowds on the sidewalk outside. No security of any kind was in sight.
“Compared to Europe,” boasted Dr. Siamak Moreh Sedgh, the Jewish community’s elected representative in Iran’s parliament, “synagogues here are one of the safest places.” He also said proudly, “We have a high rate of people following Halacha,” or traditional Jewish law, “and a low rate of assimilation. The rate of intermarriage among Iranian Jews is less than 1%.”

Of course, there are a lot fewer Jews now than before Iran’s 1979 Revolution.
Homayon Najafabadi, the Executive Director of Tehran Jewish Committee Image: Larry Cohler-Esses
Homayoun Sameyah Najafabadi, the current chair of the Tehran Jewish Committee, Iranian Jewry’s central body, told me there were just 9,000 Jews, citing Iranian government census data on which people must list their religion. Other Jewish leaders insisted there were something like 18,000 to 20,000. They based their estimates on their knowledge of communal affiliations in Iran’s various cities. Either way, that’s a big drop from the 80,000 to 100,000 Jews that lived in Iran prior to 1979.
Many of these Jews left in the months immediately after the fall of the shah. A largely business-oriented community, its members often maintained ties to Israel under the shah. Many were shocked into flight when Habib Elghanian , one of the country’s leading businessmen and philanthropists — and the titular head of their community — was executed by a firing squad on charges that included “contacts with Israel and Zionism.”

In 1998, another Jew, Ruhollah Kadkhodah-Zadeh, was executed, reportedly for helping Jews to emigrate illegally.

Shortly after this, restrictions on emigration were lifted. So those who live in Iran today are choosing to do so. Even cash bonus offers from Israel ranging from $10,000 for individuals to $61,000 for families have failed to move those now living there to leave.

According to Moreh Sedgh, those who have stayed are primarily members of the middle class — shop owners, small businessmen and professionals. “The rich had the money to move to America and re-establish themselves there,” he said. “The poor, who had nothing to lose, moved to Israel.” But Najafabadi assured me that a strong contingent of the poor remained among Iran’s Jews.

“We have people who receive charity from the community, including meat, rice and fruit,” he said.
Those making the choice to stay, even as their leaders bristle with hostility toward Zionism and the State of Israel, live under an umbrella of government protection.
Image: Larry Cohler-Esses Jewish hospital
And Jewish life in Iran can be rich. In Tehran alone there are 13 active synagogues, five Jewish schools, two kindergartens and a 100-bed Jewish hospital, where Moreh Sedgh serves as director. There are active communities in several other cities, including Shiraz, Isfahan and Kermanshah, with institutions of their own.
But living as protected second-class citizens under a Shiite Islamist regime is complicated.
As Najafabadi put it: “There is no oppression. But there are limitations.

Working in the Jews’ favor is the deeply embedded nature of their presence in Iranian society, where they have never been ghettoized, and in which they are seen — and see themselves — as pre-eminently Iranian, woven into 2,700 years of Iranian history. This facilitates the rigid compartmentalization the government maintains between Zionists, who are seen as a malign outside force, and the unquestioned indigenous character of their own Jewish citizens.

But implicitly, this also means Iranian Jews must take care not to be seen as interested or involved in Israel, though it is an open secret that many have family there, and that many have even visited Israel themselves via third countries.

The Jews’ security is aided by a fatwa that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s founder, issued shortly after he came to power. Even as he shifted Iran into an anti-Israel mode, his fatwa declared Iran’s Jews to be a fully protected minority community and forbade any attacks on them.

But Jews’ place in Iranian society is perhaps vouchsafed most by the Jewish community’s own willingness to fight for its right to that place. Its leaders do so while avoiding any challenge to the fundamental legitimacy of Iran’s regime. But it is not a quiet or quiescent Jewish leadership.
Image: Larry Cohler-Esses - Shiraz Jewish compound
When then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned the historical reality of the Holocaust during his tenure, Jews and others worldwide denounced his statements. But so did Haroun Yashayaei, who was then head of the Tehran Jewish Committee.

“How is it possible to ignore all the undeniable evidence existing for the killing and exile of the Jews in Europe during World War II?” he asked Ahmadinejad in an official letter he wrote the president as head of the committee. Yashayaei condemned Ahmadinejad’s reference to the Holocaust as “a myth,” describing it as “an infected wound for Western civilization.”

Maurice Motamed, who at the time represented the Jewish community in Iran’s parliament, told a reporter for the Persian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, “Denial of such a great historical tragedy that is connected to the Jewish community can only be considered an insult to all the world’s Jewish communities.”

In 2012, when Ahmadinejad’s first vice president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, claimed at a United Nations drug conference that the Talmud teaches “how to destroy non-Jews so as to protect an embryo in the womb of a Jewish mother” and charged that Zionists controlled the world’s illicit drug trade, the community also condemned his remarks.

During Ahmadinejad’s tenure, “there were huge insults toward our religion,” Najafabadi recalled. “He insulted Talmud. And we answered him.”

Outbursts of anti-Semitism did not just stop with Ahmadinejad’s departure in 2013.

Just last April, Alef, a prominent Iranian website run by Ahmad Tavakkoli, a conservative
Member of Parliament, cited Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and argued: “Blood shedding by Jews is not a new theme…. By examining Jewish history in past centuries, it becomes evident that they insist on blood shedding and even bloodthirstiness based on their altered religion and teachings.” 
Nevertheless, the community is vocal about the multiple forms of discrimination under which its members live — but without questioning the legitimacy of the regime or the system of Sharia, or Islamic law, by which it governs.
Image: Larry Cohler-Esses
Their approach could be seen in what community leaders consider one of their biggest recent victories: gaining equality in “blood money” compensation. That’s the amount a person must pay to a family when he is responsible for an accident that caused a family member’s death.

We succeeded in getting blood money compensation equalized for minorities,”

Motamed said. “Before, there was a big difference between the money for minorities and the main population…. It was a very big achievement.”

But the community’s approach did not involve any criticism of Sharia, which rules on such matters. Instead, Motamed, recalled, “We consulted a lot of ayatollahs and took testimony from high-ranking clerics to show there must be equality” under Sharia.

Pleased as he was, Motamed noted that blood money compensation for non-Muslims remains unequal in cases of murder — and that they are continuing to push on this.

Under Sharia… if a Muslim kills a Jew, there will be blood money payment. But if a Jew kills a Muslim, the penalty is execution,” he said. Here, too, “we’ve consulted with a lot of ayatollahs and gotten letters. But it’s still not solved.”

Other unresolved issues the leaders cited involved access to high-ranking posts in government ministries and the requirement that a Muslim serve as principal at Jewish schools.

“We have five schools,” Najafabadi said, “and the principals in all of them are Muslim. There’s no enmity. They’re very cooperative. But it’s kind of insulting.”

Then there is inheritance law: Under Sharia in Iran, if one sibling in a non-Muslim family converts to Islam, he inherits the entirety of his parents’ assets. This, too, community leaders are pushing to change.
Shiraz Jewish compound - Image: Larry Cohler-Esses
On Israel, the community’s leadership must be more circumspect. But it is no secret that many in the community have family there, or that a significant number of Jews in Iran have visited Israel themselves. One teenager in Shiraz told me how excited he had been to visit three years ago.

There are people traveling to Israel,” Najafabadi volunteered. But since the Gaza War of last summer, the government had clamped down, he said. Some who go are imprisoned, fined and interrogated. Two community members had been sentenced to 91 days, though this was later reduced to 20 days. Travel to Israel “is declining now because of these problems,” he said.

Moreh Sedgh even voiced concern for Israel, in his way — his way being to criticize Israel’s policies as harmful for Israel’s own interests.

Speaking about Israel’s policy of opposing Syria’s regime under Bashar al-Assad, which Iran supports, Moreh Sedgh said, “The main enemy of Israel today is Daesh” — a reference to the extremist Islamic State fighting to oust Assad. “Of course, the Assad family are not the ideal leaders for Syria,” he said. But he noted that if Assad is ousted, they “must be ready for ISIS. What benefit for Israel would that be?”

Despite all these issues, those Iranian Jews who choose to stay can live a very active Jewish religious and communal life. My second-to-last night in Iran, I was invited to meet with the local leaders of the Shiraz community in the large open-air compound that serves as their community center. About the size of a football field, the compound is surrounded by high walls that ensure the privacy of those who come. Tables were spread out with ample food, and by 11 p.m., Jewish families totaling some 50 or 60 individuals, including children, were dining and moving around from table to table to catch up on the local gossip.
Shiraz Jewish compound pizzeria - Image: Larry Cohler-Esses
Told I was a vegetarian, the community elders treated me to cheese pizza from the kosher pizzeria on the premises. For meat eaters there was a kosher butcher. And just about everyone used matzo from the matzo factory on the grounds during Passover, I was told. The compound also contained a home for the elderly with nine or 10 residents.


We are a country of paradox,” Moreh Sedgh said. Noting other recent communal victories, such as permission to close Jewish schools on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, rather than Friday, the Muslim day of rest, he said: “Sometimes we do something and have some success…. We think all these problems can be solved as domestic problems. If it comes from the outside. that will make it harder.”

Monday, 24 August 2015

Unreported in Western Media - Syria Downs Israeli Warjet

US F-16 fighter jet
It’s strange that this hasn’t been reported anywhere in the British media.  An Israeli F-16 was shot down over Syria.  It had been engaged in bombing the Syrian army i.e. in support of the Islamist and Al Qaeda al-Nusra groups that they pretend not to support.  Israel is openly attacking the Syrian regime, on behalf of its Saudi and Turkish friends and has now paid a heavy price.

Hopefully we will see more Israeli planes shot down if they engage in similar attacks.  After all there is a War on Terror!!

Tony Greenstein
Downed warplane

Map of Syrian defence installations


GR Editor’s Note:
The shooting down of an Israeli warplane by Syria has not been reported by Western and Israeli media sources. According to Sputnik, on August 21, “the Israeli Air Force resumed airstrikes on Western Syria, targeting a government army base at Khan Al-Sheih in Damascus province and another in the al-Quneitra province after a six-hour halt in attacks that followed their multiple air raids over the Golan Heights.”

Fars News Agency (FNA) also confirmed the Israeli attacks and the shooting down of an Israeli fighter plane

The Syrian air defense system shot down an Israeli warplane violating the Arab country’s air space.
The Israeli fighter jet was targeted over the city of Al-Quneitra on Friday.

Israel regularly violates the Syrian airspace and it launches missile attacks against the Arab country.
On Friday, the Israeli Air Force resumed airstrikes on Western Syria, targeting Brigade 68 Base in Khan Al-Sheih in Damascus province and Brigade 90 Base in the al-Quneitra province after a six hour halt in attacks that followed their multiple air raids over the Golan Heights.
*     *     *
Yesterday, Friday, August 21, 2015 in the early hours, Damascus time, an Israeli US made F-16 fighter-bomber, flew into Syrian airspace brazenly and fired at Brigade 68 and, then, turned and flew back toward Brigade 90 in Qunaytra in order to insure a safe landing in occupied Palestine if the aircraft was struck.  It was struck.  An SA-9 from the Iftiraas Air Defense Base and an SA-2 near the Khalkhaala AB were fired.  But, the technical wizardry was most on display when an S-300 (SA-10 “Grumble) super-air-defense missile was fired from the Republican Guard base near the Mazza AB at the foot of Qaasiyoon Mountain west of Damascus.  This was done so that the F-16’s electronic countermeasures would first fix on the SA-2 and SA-9 while the S-300 plowed forward to exterminate the vermin inside the Israeli aircraft.   The S-300 vaporized the Israeli bomber.  No evidence was seen of the pilot ejecting.  Instead, eyewitness accounts described a ball of fire over the Golan and the remains scattering into the air over the Huleh Valley in Palestine.
Also, the Israelis lost 2 helicopters while flying missions over the Golan Heights in an effort to bolster the sagging morale of the Takfiri rats of Nusra/Alqaeda and Al-Ittihaad Al-Islaami li-Ajnaad Al-Shaam.   The 2 helicopters went down over the area near Qunaytra City and were reportedly shot down by shoulder fired, heat-seeking missiles deployed throughout the Syrian Army.

Syria’s Right to Self Defense

It had to happen, sooner or later.  The seeming diffidence of the Syrian brass had to transform into a bolder and more pugnacious articulation of Syria’s right to self-defense.  With Russia now inevitably bound to the Syrian government for reasons discussed at length on our website; and Iran, now dazzled by a new role to play in regional politics;  the green light turned on, finally, with Moscow withdrawing all restrictions on the use of advanced weaponry sold to the Syrian military.  If you want to know what the former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Martin Dempsey, meant when he told Congress Syria had a “robust air defense system”, the Zionists just found out for themselves.
Yesterday, there was despondence after Israel assaulted Qunaytra and killed civilians seated in a public vehicle.  The Israelis also killed one Syrian soldier and wounded several others in the Brigade 68 base.

Via Wikimapia: http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=33.080898&lon=36.612282&z=12&m=b

But, the Syrian Army Chief of Staff, in consultation with the president and the Defense Minister, had no intention of letting this episode slide by especially in light of President Putin’s recent meeting with the Turkish ambassador in Moscow during which he flatly told the diplomat that relations with Turkey would be severed if Erdoghan did not stop supporting terrorism.  It also came just after Sergei Lavrov called the Saudi foreign minister an “imbecile” just as the latter was renouncing any intention to treat with the Syrian government.  There is a new belligerency in both Moscow and Teheran and it is being translated into action over Syria.