[Marxism] The Jews and the Baha'i in Iran

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Aug 4 11:04:32 MDT 2007

There’s an article in the August 3rd Counterpunch  by Jonathan Cook that 
makes a number of excellent points about the status of Jews in Iran. 
Since the neoconservatives in Washington and their Zionist allies are 
distorting Ahmadinejad’s statements on Israel as a threat to exterminate 
Jews in Iran, it is imperative that the truth come out.
To Cook’s credit, he makes no attempt to whitewash the Iranian government:

     As one of several non-Muslim minorities in Iran, Jews there suffer 
discrimination, but they are certainly no worse off than the one million 
Palestinian citizens of Israel — and far better off than Palestinians 
under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

     Iranian Jews have little influence on decision-making and are not 
allowed to hold senior posts in the army or bureaucracy.

Despite these limitations, Jews enjoy a fairly trouble-free existence in 
Iran. Cook writes:

     They have an elected representative in parliament, they practice 
their religion openly in synagogues, their charities are funded by the 
Jewish diaspora, and they can travel freely, including to Israel. In 
Tehran there are six kosher butchers and about 30 synagogues. 
Ahmadinejad’s office recently made a donation to a Jewish hospital in 

These points are absolutely necessary to be made, but there are still 
some troubling aspects to the status of Jews in Iran, no doubt reflected 
by emigration statistics. In 1979, there were 80,000 Jews in Iran but 
today there are only 20,000. That is a mass exodus that needs to be 
analyzed. To some extent, it can be explained by the privileged material 
status of Jews, who were primarily bourgeois and petty-bourgeois. Like 
many other Iranians, particularly those with ties to the Shah, the felt 
that their class interests were being threatened and emigrated to Israel 
or to the United States, where many settled in Los Angeles, along with 
tens of thousands of non-Jewish Iranians.


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