Iran’s sole Jewish parliamentarian has denied speaking to Israeli media, hours after an Israeli radio station played a tape of him telling the broadcaster that Tehran was not seeking war with Israel, since doing so would amount to “suicide” by the Islamic Republic.
In a recent interview, Siamak Moreh Sedgh told Israel Radio’s Paris correspondent Gideon Kotz that he believed Iranian leadership to be “healthy and wise enough to avoid a war with Israel,” and asserted that war between the two countries was not “probable” at the moment.
“Iran does not want to start a war against Israel, because they know that everyone who starts a war in the Middle East is doing suicide,” Moreh Sedgh can be heard saying in a recording of the English-language interview that aired on Sunday.
However, by Sunday evening Iran’s semi-official Fars News reported that Moreh Sedgh denied speaking to “Zionist media” and rejected “claims” made in a Times of Israel report on the interview.
“I have had no interview with the Israeli Radio and deny both the report and the interview,” the Jewish lawmaker told Fars. “I do not answer phone calls and questions from the Zionist media because they are not the creatures that we want to answer.”
Sedgh, a 50-year-old physician who also serves as director of the Tehran Jewish Committee, has represented his community in parliament since 2012 and has been a frequent critic of Israel. During the 2014 Gaza War, he accused Israel of acting like Nazis and like Saddam Hussein’s regime.
In May 2008, Moreh Sedgh said that Iran’s Jewish community would not mark Israel’s 60th anniversary. “We are in complete disagreement with the behavior of Israel,” Moreh Sedgh said at the time, adding that in Gaza Israel displayed “anti-human behavior… they kill innocent people.”
On Sunday, he went on the offensive against Israel’s media.
“The ill fame of the Zionist regime’s media outlets is a proven fact to everyone, and I believe that their news reports are not worth to even be denied; they themselves know that no free man would do an interview with them,” he said, according to Fars.
It is possible Moreh Sedgh was interviewed by Kotz without knowing he was speaking to Israel Radio, an arm of Israel’s state-funded public broadcasting corporation.
Moreh Sedgh told Fars he gave an interview to a French journalist on a recent trip to Paris.
“I told him that there are (at least) few people in Israel who could know attacking Iran would amount to Israel’s annihilation,” he said.
Iran is home to about 8,500 Jews, mostly in Tehran but also in Isfahan and Shiraz, major cities south of the capital. The country’s Jewish community is one of three officially recognized religious minorities and has an officially designated member of parliament by law.
In an interview with Russia Today in 2010, Moreh Sedgh denied that anti-Semitism existed in Iran, claiming it was a uniquely European phenomenon.
“Jews are safe in Iran. There has never been a single instance of anti-Semitism in Iranian society. This phenomenon belongs to the European, Christian world,” he said.
Many Iranian Jews complain they are not treated equally under the law, Homayoun Sameyah Najaf Abadi, the head of Tehran’s Jewish community and a doctor at Tehran’s Jewish Hospital, said in 2015.
Agencies contributed to this report