Tehran Jewish Leader to Obama: Carpe Diem
Head of Tehran's Jewish community tells Obama he has an "unrepeatable" opportunity to mend fences with Iran.
Tehran's Jewish community has urged US President Barack Obama to seize an "unrepeatable" opportunity to mend fences with Iran now that a reputed moderate holds the Islamic republic's presidency.
The call was made in an open letter from the head of Tehran's Jewish community, Homayoun Sameyah Najaf Abady, a copy of which was sent to AFP.
"If the US and the international community do not make the best of this golden and perhaps unrepeatable opportunity, then it will be in the benefit of those who are against the normalisation of ties between Iran and the US," Sameyah wrote.
"It would also make it easy for pessimists to doubt the good intentions of the US," he added.
His letter comes after Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani's trip to New York for the UN General Assembly last month, when he made a number of diplomatic gestures towards the West.
The visit was capped by an historic phone conversation with Obama, the first such contact since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Sameyah also played down comments by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on basic freedoms in Iran.
"We, the Iranian Jews, as an Iranian religious minority, participated in the elections and elected our popular president freely," he said.
He added that the small Jewish community has freedom of choice in "wearing jeans and listening to music," referring to Netanyahu's remarks.
In an interview with BBC Persian TV, Netanyahu said, "I think if the Iranian people had freedom, they would wear jeans, listen to Western music, and have free elections." Iranians later mocked Netanyahu for this statement, by taking pictures of themselves wearing blue jeans and uploading them to the internet.
Most of the 80,000-100,000 Jews living in Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution have left, with only some 8,750-20,000 remaining, according to a recent report on Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.