President Shimon Peres at Rabin memorial 311.
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
After reiterating in many public forums that Israel has no quarrel with the Iranian people but is opposed to Iran’s extremist leadership, President Shimon Peres on Monday sent greetings for the Persian New Year to the population of Iran and its citizens living in exile.
The greetings were delivered via a recorded interview with veteran Farsi broadcaster Menashe Amir on Israel Radio’s Farsi program and on YouTube.
The Iranian New Year, known as Naw Ruz, falls on Tuesday.
It is also the new year of the Bahai faith, which originated in Iran, but whose followers there now face constant persecution and human rights abuses.
The Bahai community in Israel, though headquartered in Haifa, always holds its new year celebrations in Jerusalem and will do so again Tuesday evening.
Peres began his message by saying: “Dear Iranian citizens in all the places in which you may find yourselves, Happy New Year. I wish the Iranian people a truly joyful festival not only in terms of the greetings that emanate from your mouths but also in terms of what is in your hearts. May you have a genuine rather than a feigned holiday and may you know the taste of freedom, the taste of respect and the taste of human dignity.”
In the course of the interview, Peres addressed himself to the Iranian people, saying that it was still not too late to change the corrupt administration and to revive the glorious Persian tradition. The Iranian people are the heirs of a magnificent legacy of culture and values and not of bombs and rockets, he said.
It is inconceivable that a people with such a splendid history could allow an extreme group full of blind hatred and malice to bring so much shame on the country’s past, Peres said, questioning how the nation could allow the regime to instill so much terror and to deny people the freedom that is their right.
The president also referred to the younger generation, which is seeking to leave Iran’s dictatorship. Iran, which was once looked upon with favor by the world, today provokes great opposition, Peres said.
He attributed the unrest in Iran and in other parts of the region to the strong desire to escape the cycle of poverty. “Every child in the world, including Iran, when he gets up in the morning, is entitled to eat breakfast,” said Peres, who charged Tehran with investing all its money in nuclear capability while sentencing the population to poverty and starvation.
Peres told his listeners that if the Iranian people join forces to lift their voices in protest, the world will be behind them and will help them to recreate a genuinely Iranian Iran.
Towards the end of the interview, Peres recalled his visit to Iran in the days of the late Shah, at which time there were warm diplomatic relations between Iran and Israel.