Despite a year that saw Israeli and Iranian forces directly clash, Tehran’s foreign minister on Sunday sent “all Jews” a Rosh Hashanah greeting, wishing them a new year of “peace and harmony.”
“As the sun gives way to the moon, I wish all my Jewish compatriots and Jews worldwide a very Happy New Year filled with peace and harmony. Happy Rosh Hashanah,” tweeted Mohammad Javed Zarif.
His greeting was accompanied by pictures of Iranian Jews praying in a synagogue. The Jewish New Year starts at sundown on Sunday.
Iran had between 80,000 and 100,000 Jews before the 1979 Islamic revolution but most have since fled, mainly to the United States, Israel and Europe. There are now only about 8,500, mostly in Tehran but also in Isfahan and Shiraz, major cities south of the capital.
As the sun gives way to the moon, I wish all my Jewish compatriots and Jews worldwide a very Happy New Year filled with peace and harmony. Happy Rosh Hashanah.
سال نو یهودی مبارک. pic.twitter.com/hG4UgqNV8j
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 9, 2018
With one designated member of parliament, Iran’s Jewish community is one of three officially recognized religious minorities. Armenian Christians have two designated MPs, while Assyrian-Chaldeans and Zoroastrians have one each.
Still, many Iranian Jews complain they are not treated equally under the law. In July an Iranian court overturned a ban on religious minorities standing in municipal polls.
Zarif’s wishes come after a year of heightened tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran that saw the largest ever direct clash between Israeli and Iranian forces and Israeli agents brazenly steal Iran’s nuclear archive — material that proves, according to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that the regime has lied when claiming it has not sought to build a nuclear weapons arsenal and that it intends to resume its pursuit of nuclear weapons when it can.
In May, some 20 rockets were fired at Israeli military bases by Iranian forces from southern Syria with Israeli jets then targeting numerous Iranian-controlled sites across Syria.
The Israeli army said the initial missile barrage was carried out by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Forces. This appeared to be the first time that Israel attributed an attack directly to Iran, which generally operates through proxies.
In response, Israel launched an extensive retaliatory campaign, striking suspected Iranian bases throughout Syria for hours following the initial Iranian bombardment
Senior Iranian officials have relentlessly encouraged the destruction of Israel, and Iran finances, arms and trains terror groups on Israel’s borders.
Wishes from near and far
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah also sent Rosh Hahsanah greetings to the Jewish people and agreed to meet with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon after the holidays.
The two have routinely met despite tensions between the PA and Israel.
There were also wishes from Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, another leader who has been accused of anti-Semitism and comparing Israel’s actions against the Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazi genocide of the Jews in World War II.
“We are members of a deep civilization, who give great importance to freedom of religion and belief, and consider social, cultural, religious and human diversity as wealth,” he said in statement.
He added that Turkey protects the rights of its citizens to live their culture, religion and traditions freely without facing any discrimination.
“I wish all Jewish people, especially our citizens a happy Rosh Hashanah festival, which is one of the important religious festivals of Judaism,” he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also sent his wishes to Russia’s Jewish community, praising their contribution to the country.
“I note with satisfaction that Jewish religious organisations are actively engaged in the country’s life, conduct effective charity activities, have implemented much needed educational projects, acquaint young people with their rich historical and spiritual heritage, the original culture and traditions of their ancestors,” Putin said in the letter, according to his office.
“The contribution of the Jewish communities toward enhancing inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue and consolidating centuries-old friendship of Russia’s peoples is definitely important,” Putin said.
US President Donald Trump also tweeted wishes from him and the first lady. “Melania and I pray that the High Holy Days are filled with God’s peace love and mercy.”
Melania and I wish all Jewish people Shana Tova and send our warmest greetings to those celebrating Rosh Hashanah and the start of the High Holy Days… pic.twitter.com/uMrHHX5il0
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2018
Trump also sent his wishes Thursday in a conference call with several dozen American Jewish leaders, telling them that the US would not give aid to the Palestinians until they reach an agreement with Israel. He also said the Iranian regime had “lost their mojo” since he withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, and was now fighting for its survival. In quitting the deal, he said, he had done “a great thing for Israel.”
In the UK, where British Jews have been dealing with the anti-Semitism scandal plaguing the opposition Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn, London Mayor Sadiq Khan vowed to keep his city’s Jews safe.
Best wishes to everyone celebrating Rosh Hashanah. I will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Jewish Londoners in tackling the scourge of anti-Semitism, and do whatever it takes to keep our Jewish community safe.
I wish you a peaceful and prosperous year ahead. Shanah Tovah. pic.twitter.com/JmBXDb2zOZ
— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) September 9, 2018
“I will always stand shoulder to shoulder with Jewish Londoners in tackling the scourge of anti-Semitism, and do whatever it takes to keep our Jewish community safe,” tweeted Khan.