New US State Dept report blasts Iran’s Rouhani for antisemitism

Holocaust denial and repression of Iranian Jews remains a ‘pervasive’ problem.

Iranian Jews pray at the Abrishami synagogue in Tehran, December 24, 2015 (photo credit: RAHEB HOMAVANDI/TIMA VIA REUTERS)
Iranian Jews pray at the Abrishami synagogue in Tehran, December 24, 2015
NEW YORK – The US State Department on Wednesday criticized Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for stoking an anti-Jewish conspiracy theory that suggests Jews control the West.
“In May, President Rouhani implied Jewish control over various Western interests, saying that speeches by foreign officials criticizing Iran were ‘written by Zionists word for word.’ Cartoons in state-run media outlets repeatedly depicted foreign officials as puppets of Jewish control,” the State Department wrote in its newly released report under the section titled “Antisemitism” covering Iran.
The report said: “Members of the Iranian Jewish community are reportedly subject to government restrictions and discrimination. Government officials continued to question the history of the Holocaust, and antisemitism remained a pervasive problem.”
Iran’s legal system recognizes Jews as a religious minority and allows for parliamentary representation. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the overwhelming majority of Iranian Jews fled the country due to repression. There were an estimated 80,000 Persian Jews who lived in Iran prior the revolution. There are now some 9,000 Jews in Iran, according to Tehran’s Jewish Committee.
In 1979, the Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced Iranian Jewish businessman and philanthropist Habib Elghanian (1912-1979) to death. He served as president of the Tehran Jewish Society.
Iranian Jews are effectively second-class citizens.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday in connection with the release of the report, titled “2019 Country Reports on Human Rights”: “Experience teaches that government officials who oppress, abuse and tolerate the denial of the human rights of their own people are also responsible for creating social environments that are ripe for both economic and humanitarian crises, and that encourage corruption, violent conflict and terrorism.”
US governments have repeatedly classified Iran’s regime as the worst state sponsor of terrorism.
The Islamic regime in Tehran is the top state sponsor of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said during a congressional hearing in January.
The State Department report said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is an authoritarian theocratic republic with a Shia Islamic political system based on velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurist).”
The detailed report documents the clerical regime’s use of “torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” faced by Iranians.
The report said: “Numerous human rights organizations, including the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), reported on allegations that in late 2018 Intelligence Ministry agents tortured Esmail Bakhshi, a labor activist and leading representative of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company workers in Khuzestan Province, and Sepideh Gholian, a journalist and human rights activist. Both Bakhshi and Gholian were forced to make confessions, that the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) broadcast. Authorities released both individuals in December 2018.”
“Bakhshi posted a letter on Instagram stating he was severely beaten during his 25 days of detention following his arrest in November 2018. Bakhshi, referring to the Intelligence Ministry agents, said, ‘[T]hey tortured me and beat me with their fists and kicked me until I was going to die. They beat me so much I couldn’t move in my cell for 72 hours… I turned into a washed-up rat.
“My hands are still trembling. I still get severe panic attacks,”’ the report said.