I support Sen. Tom Cotton/ the GOP-47, and their March 9, 2015 “Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” as a means of clarifying, and then ending the self-destructive “negotiations” (elaborated here; here/here; and here) with a Shiite theocratic regime whose ugly and dangerous ideological pillars are: jihadism, Islamic Jew-hatred, and the active dehumanization of all non-Muslims via “najis”—“uncleanliness of the infidel”—doctrine. (elaborated here; here/here)
The doctrine of “najis” is very much alive as evidenced by Iranian theocratic leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s 2013 tweet about Israel as an “unclean rabid dog,” and his 2013 fatwa against “unclean” Bahai –a religious minority within Iran—that has increased their dehumanizing persecution. Here is the description of what happened to an innocent Bahai family flower business after Khamenei’s 2013 fatwa.
Parva Rahmanian’s family used to run a flower shop in Iran – until the government revoked their business license. The reason given was simple: as Baha’is, they were “unclean”—and so were their floral designs. The uncleanliness of the Baha’is was, to the world’s great shock and outrage, the subject of a recent (2013) fatwa by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, which stated “Any communication, friendship, or association with the Baha’i, a damned sect, must be avoided.” Subsequently, Parva Rahmanian and her family “received a letter from the Justice Bureau saying that as a florist one’s hands get wet while decorating flowers, and given that Baha’is are considered unclean by the high-ranking clerics…, the work permit was revoked”
Such dehumanizing hatred, unsurprisingly, engenders persecution, often severe, of all Iran’s non-Muslim religious minorities, notably Baha’i, but also Christians, as well. Discrimination against the latter was the focus of a British All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief joint report on The Persecution of Christians in Iran, just issued (March 2015).
This straightforward, if grim report hoped that by “cataloguing the abuse of Christians during Rouhani’s presidency”—deemed a moderate and reformist—the Parliamentarians might
draw attention to the lack of freedom of religion in Iran, and encourage the government to prioritize this issue in all dialogues with the Islamic Republic.
Many of the recommendations of this report apply to Iran’s other suffering religious minorities, such as the Bahái’s…
The report summary highlighted these findings:
Christians continue to be arbitrarily arrested and interrogated because of their faith-related activities. They continue to be treated harshly, with some facing severe physical and psychological torture during periods of detention. The judiciary continues to construe legitimate Christian activities (such as meeting in private homes for prayer meeting and bible studies, or being in contact with Christians outside of Iran) as political activities that threaten the national security of Iran. Therefore Christians continue to be issued long prison sentences and/or corporal punishment. Churches continue to be pressured into ceasing all services or activities in the national language of Persian (Farsi), or are closed down. Property belonging to Christians has continued to be seized, and Christians continue to face discrimination in the workplace and in educational institutions.
Accordingly, the British All Party Parliamentary Group concluded that, overall,
the persecution of Christians in Iran has not diminished since Hassan Rouhani took the presidential office, despite his pre-election promises of greater respect for human rights. There has been no substantive change in Iran’s human rights record since the election of President Rouhani; in fact by some indicators you could argue that things have gotten worse.
Last week, Wednesday, March 4, 2015, a day after Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress, NBC News’ Ann Curry interviewed Iran’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Javid Zarif. The good Foreign Minister’s predictable diatribe against Israel, and its Prime Minister, notwithstanding, Zarif also volunteered remarkably mendacious assessments of Iran’s current, and historical treatment of non-Muslim religious minorities, particularly, Jews. In an act of brazen takiya—sacralized Islamic religious dissimulation to “promote Islamic goals,” as promulgated by seminal Shiite legists for over a millennium, through the present era—Zarif opined:
Iran has a bright record of tolerance to other religions…We are not talking about annihilation of Jews. We never have, we never will. Because if we wanted to annihilate Jews, we have a large number of Jewish population in Iran [sic] who not only live in the country in peace, but, in fact, have a representative in Iranian parliament allocated to them. We have a history of tolerance and cooperation and living together in coexistence with our own Jewish people.
The takiya-free historical reality for Iranian Jewry was that popularized Shiite Islamic Jew-hatred, melded to “najis/ uncleanliness” regulations, fomented recurring anti-Jewish violence, including periodic pogroms and forced conversions throughout the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, at times destroying these small Jewish communities altogether. (During 1909-1910, historians Walter Fischel and David Littman chronicled major anti-Jewish pogroms in Kermanshah—a “common” occurrence in 1909—and Shiraz, respectively.) As but one of myriad examples a compilation of American diplomatic actions (and related correspondence) affecting the Jews, notes the prevailing conditions for Persian Jews through the very end of the 19th century, in its “centuries” old historical context:
[F]or centuries, the Persian Jews had been kept at such a low condition as to have become inarticulate. They did not dare to complain against the ruling authorities for fear of aggravating a condition already bad enough. As late as 1894 the Jews of Persia had to wear a patch on their clothes to signify their origin. Jews who, as a result of continuous persecution, changed their religion and were converted to Mohammedanism or Christianity, soon discovered that their situation did not improve because of their conversion. And it is because of the continued discrimination against Jewish converts that the Jewish question in Persia first appeared in the United States diplomatic correspondence.
Negating the Westernizing, and secularizing, reforms of the 1925-1979 Pahlavi era, conditions for all Iran’s non-Muslims religious groups deteriorated with the ascent to power of Khomeini and his coterie in 1979, effectively returning these minorities to their debased “dhimmi” status during the Safavid-Qajar eras. Law Professor Ann Mayer’s has demonstrated how the Iranian Constitution, subservient to Sharia norms—in her words, a “Sharia-based system”—subjects non-Muslim minorities to legalized discriminations. Iranian Jewish human rights lawyer Pooya Dayanim characterized in 2003 how other discriminatory liabilities implicit in Iran’s legal code are exploited fully, worsening the plight of Iran’s Jews, now just a vestigial remnant population of perhaps 8800 souls. These include: the imposition of collective punishment on a Jewish community for an individual act; a “contract of silence” regarding anti-Jewish discrimination and persecution; and an unrelenting campaign of virulent antisemitism openly expressed by the Iranian media, and religious and political hierarchy. Nine years later, the U.S. Department of State’s 2012 International Religious Freedom Report on Iran acknowledged bluntly that, “Antisemitism remained a problem”—indeed an official Iranian government policy:
the Jewish community experienced official discrimination. Government officials continued to make antisemitic statements, organize events designed to deny the Holocaust, and sanction antisemitic propaganda. Such propaganda involved official statements, media outlets, publications, and books.
The report further noted that, “many Jews sought to limit their contact with or support for the state of Israel due to fear of reprisal, and “Anti-American and anti-Israeli demonstrations included the denunciation of Jews,” specifically, not merely of “Israel” and “Zionism.”
One particularly ghoulish, murderous incident was alluded to by the State Department, and elaborated upon elsewhere. The brutal slaying occurred on Monday, November 26, 2012, in the Iranian city of Isfahan, home to a mere 100 remaining Jewish families. Muslim neighbors, in what her family insisted was a religiously motivated crime related to a property dispute, attacked, and murdered Tuba N. She and her family had been harassed for years in an ongoing effort to drive them from their home, and seize the property for the adjoining mosque. Alleged “religious radicals” had “even expropriated part of the house and attached it to the mosque’s courtyard.” Seeking redress, the Jewish family, assisted by a local attorney, appealed to the courts despite lethal threats. While her husband was in Tehran on a business trip, Muslim assailants “broke into her [Tuba N.’s] home, tied up her two sisters who were living with her, and repeatedly stabbed her to death.” The Times of Israel report added these grisly details about the murder, and the subsequent behavior of local authorities:
Afterward, her attackers allegedly butchered her body and cut off her hands, a sister who witnessed the event told her relatives in the U.S.…Iranian authorities were said to have not returned the woman’s dismembered body to her family and have tried to cover up the case.
A subsequent report identified the 57-year-old Jewish woman victim as Toobah Nehdaran, and disputed the claim local Iranian authorities had withheld Nehdaran’s body from the family, but confirmed the gruesome nature of her killing:
Our investigation indicates that the victim’s body was surrendered to the family and the local rabbis, who had requested it on Nov. 29…. People who have seen the body talk of mutilation as a result of multiple stabbings following the strangulation of the victim.
Hoping to raise public awareness of the murder, an ad-hoc group of Iranian- Jewish activists in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., created the Jewbareh Committee—named after the ancient Jewish ghetto in Isfahan where Toobah Nehdaran was killed. The committee dismissed “robbery” as a plausible motive, “because the victim’s family was poor and living in a dilapidated home in one of the poorest areas of Isfahan.” Consistent with the mid-19th century eyewitness travelogue of Rabbi Benjamin’s experiences in Iran, and Iranian expatriate novelist Farideh Goldin’s recent autobiographical account of the history of similar depredations by Muslims against the Jews of the Shiraz ghetto, during the Ashura commemorations, Jewbareh Committee members surmised,
Nehdaran’s murder may have been premeditated because it took place during the Islamic month of Muharram, a holy time for religious Shiite Muslims, when they publicly mourn the killing of their prophet Hussein through large public rallies, as well as a time when religious fanatics have, for centuries, killed non- Muslims in Iran.
Returning to Zarif’s March 4th interview with Ann Curry, Iran’s Foreign Minister also had the takiya-inspired temerity to utter boldfaced lies about recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concerns, in addition to his mendacity regarding Iran’s brutal najis-related persecution of its non-Muslim religious minorities, across an historical continuum of the past 500 years of Shiite theocratic rule (i.e., from 1501-1925; and 1979-present, the Pahlavi period from 1925-1979, excepted). Zarif opined:
The IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, has come out and said, “There is nothing that is going on behind—public attention in Iran.” And we are confident that, with an agreement, where we will have even more monitoring and more scrutiny—it will be clear to the international community that our nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.
Ms. Curry, to her credit, followed up with this question about Iranian “stalling,” after Zarif alluded to the IAEA:
You’ve mentioned the IAEA. As you know—it says that Iran has been stalling on answering certain questions about past nuclear activities, specifically about whether or not Iran was involved in trying to develop a weapon. So why is Iran stalling on these questions?
The Iranian Foreign Minister replied,
No, we’re not stalling. The problem is that we have been negotiating within the group of whatever you wanna call it, E3 plus three or [P] five plus one, about how to proceed. And we have been waiting within this process for the questions that we need to answer.
Zarif’s response was unabashedly mendacious as can be gleaned from the IAEA’s own public reports, and statements.
Thus, reviewing over a decade of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) analyses (and some other corroborative investigative findings), an independent report of 102 pp. issued on November 20, 2014, concluded (despite repeated, disingenuous countervailing protests) that the Iranian regime continued to engage in “systematic,” “vigorous” combined military, and dual military-civilian efforts “such as enrichment, weaponization, warhead, and delivery system at some stage,” whose ultimate goal was procuring nuclear weapons capability. There were “no serious indications that Tehran has stopped or abandoned this project or intends to do so.” Iran, on the contrary, “has resorted to further secrecy and concealment to keep its program intact and unhindered.” Additional discoveries and data all underscored how “a military program and military related activities” remain “at the heart of the Iranian nuclear program.”
A subsequent updated report by the IAEA, exclusively, which was leaked to the New York Times and disclosed on February 20, 2015, stated that the agency “remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military-related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” Adding Iran had not provided explanations for the IAEA’s queries about all Iranian nuclear-related work, the IAEA report claimed the agency was “not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
Validating the IAEA’s gravest concerns, just 4 days later, Tuesday, February 24, 2015, the Iranian opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) claimed that a complex, dubbed Lavizan-3, on the outskirts of Tehran, was “buried deep underground in tunnels and underground facilities” with “radiation-proof doors” to prevent any leaks that could be detected by the IAEA inspectors. The NCRI claimed it smuggled out a photograph demonstrating a 1-foot thick lead-lined door which shields the complex from radiation, alleging further that the clandestine rooms and hallways are insulated for sound and radiation leaks so that they would remain undetected. The NCRI also maintained that the Iranian regime has secretly used the site to enrich uranium with advanced centrifuges since 2008, consistent with a long established deceptive pattern of hiding its actual nuclear activities.
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s interview last Wednesday with NBC News’ Ann Curry is but one glaring example of how Iran practices “takiya” (elaborated here/here) in negotiations, as part of its jihad doctrine, rendering the whole idea of talks delusive and dangerous.