Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps recently participated in a Jewish religious memorial ceremony for Jewish soldiers, a rare occurrence in a country that is widely accused of persecuting its minorities and which regularly threatens to wipe out the only Jewish state.
In footage broadcast Thursday on Iranian state media, the Revolutionary Guard members could be seen saluting, alongside Muslim clerics, during this week’s memorial service at Tehran’s Jewish cemetery.
Members of the local Jewish community are heard reciting the Kadish mourning prayer in Hebrew, as well as other religious texts, in memory of the 13 Jewish-Iranian soldiers who died during the Iran-Iraq War fought in 1980-1988.
The footage wasn’t particularly surprising for Menashe Amir, a leading expert on Iran, who told the Kan public broadcaster that the Islamic Republic seeks to present itself from time to time as tolerant toward religious minorities by participating in such events, all while continuing to employ harsh policies against them.
אירוע חריג וייחודי התרחש השבוע באיראן:
אנשי הקהילה היהודית ביחד עם אנשי משמרות המהפכה ואנשי דת מוסלמים חלקו כבוד לחללים היהודים ממלחמת אירן-עירק, במהלך הטקס אנשי משמרות המהפכה מצדיעים לקול תפילה יהודית לזכר הנופלים.
(ותודה לד"ר עופר ישראלי) pic.twitter.com/0ua5ii0IsN
— nir dvori (@ndvori) October 31, 2019
Amir said that to be accepted by the Islamic totalitarian regime, the 8,000-strong Jewish community has to work hard to prove to authorities that they are an integral part of Iranian society, and that includes denouncing Israel.
He pointed out that a member of the Jewish community is currently in prison for the sole crime of visiting Israel — the location of Judaism’s most holy sites.
He added that like all Iranian citizens, Jews must serve in the Iranian military due to a mandatory enlistment law.