Rafael Medoff joins the ranks of critics of Roger Cohen's NY Times article, in which he gives credence to Jewish stooges of the Iranian regime. "Never trust what a Jew in a totalitarian state says to a foreigner," Medoff writes in the Jerusalem Post:
"The state department's most recent annual report on international religious freedom paints a picture of Jewish life in Iran that is at odds with Cohen's description. The report says Iran's Jews live in "a threatening atmosphere" and suffer "officially sanctioned discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education and housing." The government "limits the distribution of Hebrew texts, in practice making it difficult to teach the language." Government pressure resulted in the shutdown of the Jewish community's newspaper, Ofogh-e-Bina. And "officially sanctioned anti-Semitic propaganda" permeates "official statements, media outlets, publications and books."
"Three-quarters of Iran's Jews have emigrated in the 30 years since the Khomeini revolution, and the State Department notes that some Iranian Jews are continuing to emigrate, "in part due to continued anti-Semitism on the part of the government and within society."
"Obviously others choose not to emigrate. Sometimes factors such as family ties, poverty or hope for a change in government are sufficient to persuade people to stay in a country where they are mistreated. In fact, in 1937 - fully four years after Hitler's rise to power - Germany was still home to more Jews than any other Western European country. That was not because they enjoyed Hitler's rule.
"The situation of Iranian Jewry must not be turned into a political football. The dangers and discrimination that Iran's Jews face should not be minimized to advance a particular policy agenda. Cohen urges the West to adopt an approach of "compromise" and "engagement" with Teheran, and it is possible the Obama administration will follow his advice. But if it does, one hopes that decision will not be influenced by misleading reports which see "civility" in Iran's uncivil treatment of its Jewish citizens. "