Tehran’s chief rabbi on Friday lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jewish Israelis as Iran marked its annual anti-Israel Quds Day.
Rabbi Yehuda Gerami, the head rabbi of the Iranian Jewish community, said in a Hebrew message aimed at Israelis: “You don’t represent Judaism.”
Prominent figures in the Jewish community of Iran, where the Islamist regime avowedly seeks Israel’s destruction, intermittently issue anti-Israel statements that match the regime’s agenda. There has been a spate of such statements disseminated in Iranian media in recent days, including by Iran’s sole Jewish MP and by an extreme anti-Zionist rabbi, while Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has stepped up his calls for Israel to be eliminated.
Prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there were some 100,000 Jews in Iran; by 2016, according to an Iranian census, that number had fallen to below 10,000.
“We Iranian Jews want to sent this message to the Zionists, and first and foremost to Netanyahu,” Gerami said. “Know that you Zionists do not represent Judaism and do not represent the Jewish people,” Gerami said in a statement broadcast on Iranian television. “You only represent the idea of a political movement whose ideas and values oppose the ideas and values of our holy Torah and the Jewish religion.”
“We strongly condemn your aggressive actions and emphasize to the whole world: There is a big difference between Judaism and Zionism,” Gerami said.
רב הקהילה היהודית באיראן, יהודה גראמי, בריאיון בעברית לטלוויזיה הממלכתית במדינה לרגל יום אל-קודס ביום שישי: "הציונים ובראשם נתניהו, דעו לכם שאינכם מייצגים את העם היהודי. אנו מגנים בתוקף את התוקפנות שלכם ומדגישים בפני כל העולם – יש הבדל גדול בין היהדות לציונות" @kaisos1987 @yoavz pic.twitter.com/dC7uMlLIf2
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) May 25, 2020
In January, Gerami led a delegation of Iranian Jews on a condolence call at the home of assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
Iran’s sole Jewish parliamentarian, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, last week called on Jews worldwide to rise up against Israel, according to a Friday report from the Iran Front Page news website.
Opposing Israel is a humanitarian and religious obligation, Moreh Sedgh said, calling the Jewish state “the catastrophe of Zionism.”
Sedgh, a 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. He has made similar anti-Israel statement for Quds Day in past years.
Rabbi Yisroel Meir Hirsch, an extremist anti-Zionist rabbi and a leader of the Neturei Karta sect, last week told an Iranian website that calling Israel a Jewish state “is like saying pork is a Jewish food.”
“When something is done by Jews, that does not make it Jewish. Jewish is defined by what Torah commands. Making our own state, or oppressing other people, is forbidden by Judaism and cannot be considered ‘Jewish,’” Hirsch said in an interview published Friday by Iran’s semi-official Fars News site.
“Nakba Day and Al-Quds Day are important opportunities to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and to show the world the true position of Orthodox Judaism,” Hirsch said. “It is an opportunity to clarify that opposition to Zionism and the state of Israel has nothing to do with a religious conflict or anti-Semitism.”
Neturei Karta is a fringe group that rejects Zionism and the State of Israel on religious grounds. Citing Talmudic sources, the sect argues that Jews have no right to political sovereignty in the Holy Land before the coming of the messiah. Rather, they believe that Jews must patiently wait for divine redemption and, in the meantime, they advocate for the dismantling of the State of Israel.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday said Israel’s establishment was an unequaled “crime against humanity,” repeated his characterization of the Jewish state as “a cancerous tumor” and said it was the creation of “Westerners and Jewish corporation owners.”
Citing the coronavirus pandemic, he likened Zionism to “a virus” that “must be eliminated as soon as possible.”
Khamenei also posted on his website last week an anti-Israel poster that invoked the term “final solution,” which is usually associated with Nazi Germany’s efforts to eliminate all Jews.
The poster showed people celebrating at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem after apparently capturing it from Israel as a Palestinian flag is raised over the Al-Aqsa Mosque. “Palestine Will Be Free. The final solution: Resistance until referendum,” the text on the poster says.
The poster later appeared to have been deleted from the website.
Israel on Monday asked Twitter to immediately suspend Khamenei’s account for “anti-Semitic and genocidal messages.”
Strategic Affairs Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey calling for the “immediate suspension” of Khamenei’s account “over his consistent posting of anti-Semitic and genocidal posts,” her ministry said in a statement.
There was no immediate response from Twitter. As of this writing, Khamenei’s account remains active.
Iran is openly sworn to Israel’s destruction and financially supports terrorist groups, like Hezbollah and Hamas, committed to this aim.
Quds Day, which Iran has marked since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, is usually commemorated with regime-orchestrated demonstrations across Iran against Israel and expressing support for the Palestinians, which were called off this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is held on the last Friday of Ramadan, which this year was May 22.