'Iranian Jews support nuclear progam'

Iranian parliamentary rep. of Jewish community says program is purely civilian.

morris motamed 88 (photo credit: )
morris motamed 88
(photo credit: )
Iranian Jews have long supported the country's nuclear program, said the Iranian parliamentary representative of the Jewish community on Wednesday. In an interview with the TV network al-Arabiya, Morris Motamed claimed that the nuclear program was indeed for peaceful purposes, and that Iranian Jewry's connection with the current regime is "very good." But Motamed differed from Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the subject of the Holocaust. While Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the historical truth of the Holocaust, calling it a "myth," Motamed believes that the murder of six million Jews and other minorities did actually take place. "Ahmadinejad's declarations have provoked the rage of the international community and caused concern in the ranks of the Jewish community," he said, accusing the Iranian president of "boorishness" and "political maneuvering." Two months ago, Haroun Yeshaya, longtime chairman of the Jewish Central Committee of Teheran, sent a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regarding his repeated denial of the Holocaust. "How is it possible to ignore all of the undeniable evidence existing for the exile and massacre of the Jews in Europe during World War II?" Yeshaya wrote. "Challenging one of the most obvious and saddening events of 20th-century humanity has created astonishment among the people of the world and spread fear and anxiety among the small Jewish community of Iran." The regime did not officially respond to the letter. But the Forward, a leading Jewish newspaper, reported that by the time the letter had been written, Yeshaya already had been sidelined after falling out of favor with Ahmadinejad's government. As a result, observers saw Yeshaya's outburst as both a parting shot and an expression of the community's angst over a possible backlash arising from the regime's increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric. Jewish leaders outside Iran also expressed increasing worries over the fate of the 25,000-strong community Speaking to reporters at an Islamic summit in Mecca in December, Ahmadinejad said, "Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces.... Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, our question for the Europeans is: Is the killing of innocent Jewish people by Hitler the reason for their support of the occupiers of Jerusalem? If the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe - like in Germany, Austria or other countries - to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe." His comments sparked an international storm, similar to the one in October that followed his statement that Israel should be "wiped off the map."