Iran pushes back after Trump accuses it of anti-Semitism
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Iran pushes back after Trump accuses it of anti-Semitism

Foreign Minister Zarif says Iranians, including the Jewish population, are celebrating decades of progress despite pressure from Washington

US President Donald Trump arrives to deliver the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019. (Doug Mills/POOL/AFP)
US President Donald Trump arrives to deliver the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 5, 2019. (Doug Mills/POOL/AFP)

Iran’s foreign minister pushed back Wednesday after US President Donald Trump said his country does “bad, bad things” and appeared to link it to the deadly attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue last year by an American anti-Semite.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that “Iranians — including our Jewish compatriots — are commemorating 40 yrs of progress despite US pressure, just as @realDonaldTrump again makes accusations against us.”

In his State of the Union address, Trump contextualized his Iran policy by castigating the regime for its anti-Semitism.

Iran, he said, “chants death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people. We must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism or those who spread its venomous creed.”

The scene of a mass hooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on October 27, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP)

The need to take a strong stance against Tehran, the president implied, was evident in the attack at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, in which 11 were killed — believed to be deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in American history.

“Just months ago, 11 Jewish Americans were viciously murdered in an anti-Semitic attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh,” Trump said, as he introduced SWAT officer Timothy Matson, who responded to the scene, and Judah Samet, a Holocaust survivor who also survived the attack.

Earlier this year, the president withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and renewed sanctions on the Islamic Republic, actions that he said in his speech were intended to “ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during the second day of the three-day Raisina Dialogue conference in New Delhi on January 9, 2019. (Money Sharma/AFP)

Trump made one mention of Israel in his speech, which lasted over an hour. During an extended segment on his Middle East policy, the president suggested he would diverge from the way previous White Houses had tried to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Our approach is based on principled realism — not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress,” he said. “For this reason, my administration recognized the true capital of Israel — and proudly opened the American embassy in Jerusalem.”

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