A tiny group of Iranian Jews in the central Tehran synagogue Yusef Abad on Wednesday held a ceremony—the first since 2020—to remember the first Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, who died on June 3, 1989.
Beni Sabti, an expert on Iran from the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told The Jerusalem Post, that this is “another example in which Jews have to obey and be silent. And do the right actions like al Quds Day.”
The Post was the first news outlet to report in April that the Islamic Republic of Iran exerted pressure on the nation’s small Jewish community to not celebrate the end of Passover on Friday and instead participate in the annual anti-Israel al-Quds Day demonstration that calls for the destruction of Israel. Sabti sees a similar comparison of pressure regarding Iran's regime pushing Jews to honor Khomeini and join the al-Quds march.
Jews have been turned into prisoners or hostages, experiencing 'Stockholm syndrome'
Sabti, who was born in Tehran and speaks fluent Persian, added with respect to the Khomeini memorial Iranian Jews have been turned into prisoners or hostages and many are experiencing "Stockholm syndrome.”
According to the American Psychological Association, Stockholm syndrome is defined as “ a mental and emotional response in which a captive (e.g., a hostage) displays seeming loyalty to—even affection for—the captor.”
A telling example of some Iranian Jews who have embraced the revolutionary Islamic ideology of the Iranian regime is Rabbi Younes Hamami, who delivered a sermon on Wednesday.
Sabti said Hamami is an extremist who launches “speeches against Israel” and sparks outrage among some members of the Jewish community for being over the top. The state-controlled Tehran Times reported in 2021 that Hamami said “As we are witnessing, the grandeur of the Quds Day has increased every year. Today, on this occasion, a large number of people from different nations express their disgust at the Zionist regime."
The Post learned that members of Iran’s Jewish community talked to Hamami about the need for him to rope in his extremism. Iran’s Jewish community is estimated to have 9,000 members in the Muslim-majority country of 86.7 million as of 2022.
According to an article in the Iranian regime-controlled Jamaran, Hamami brought examples from the Torah that humans are different and have been united. He said “united around God under Islamic religious system” in Iran.
Sabti said Hamami is stating that “Jews have to be united with Muslims in Iran.”
The Jewish member of Iran’s quasi-parliament, Homayoun Sameach, also spoke at the memorial. He said, “We are doing a mitzvah when we are doing a memorial for Khomeini and it is good to remember the dead.”
Sameach added that “We were united to bring down the Shah and obey Khomeini and the Jews had a very big part in the revolution. .Some Jews think the Zionist regime equals being Jewish but it does not.”
He continued “We have been living in Iran for 2,500 years and like all Iranians we are against racism but unfortunately, some Jews emigrated to the Zionist regime.” Despite UN and human rights reports that show Iranian Jews are treated as second-class citizens, Sameach claimed that “We have all the rights here” in Iran.
The Iranian regime-controlled news outlet Fararu (“Future”) showed a picture of the ceremony on Wednesday. Sabti said the picture of the Jews showed discomfort with the event. Sabti said a ”Muslin cleric comes to a synagogue. Both sides don’t accept this. Jews have invited the Muslim cleric to talk about Khomeini. The cleric is a junior cleric because his name was not cited in the newspaper article. “If he was a famous one they would have to mention his name, “said Sabti.
Although Khomeini died on June 3, Iranians commemorate his death on June 4 as a national holiday.
The US State Department defines Iran's regime as the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism. Former US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said while in office that Iran's regime is the top state-sponsor of antisemitism.