The extreme anti-Zionist hareidi sect Neturei Karta praised Rabbi Yousef Hamadani Cohen, the former chief rabbi of Iran's tiny Jewish community who passed away three weeks ago.
In a special announcement the sect praised Rabbi Cohen as being a "strong anti-Zionist." Members of Neturei Karta have been caught spying for the Islamic regime of Iran against the Jewish state of Israel in the past.
The sect wrote about the need to "submit to the kingdoms of the world", adding rabbi that the rabbi maintained "ties of friendship with the presidents and rulers of Iran as a faithful shepherd to his flock."
Neturei Kartei wrote that the rabbi treated previous rulers, such as former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "with utmost respect and submission according to the way of Israel in all the years of exile, and once even hosted an Iranian president at the Jewish synagogue."
Rabbi Cohen opposed Zionism, according to the sect, "and even took pains to clarify before Iranian leaders the great difference between Judaism and Zionism." They claim he took part in a conference at the Iranian parliament in 2003 to denounce Israel.
The Neturei Karta publication did not discuss whether Rabbi Cohen's position may have been the outcome of oppression and fear that the Iranian regime would crack down on him and his community if he opposed their attacks on Israel.
It did however discuss a meeting between members of the sect with the rabbi in 2000, in which they claim he "understood the great necessity of their mighty deeds to allay the anger of the non-Jews towards the sons of Israel."
The announcement ended by saying over 30,000 Jews remain in Iran "living in peace and tranquility under the Iranian government, with no interruptions to keeping our holy Torah, or to earning a living."
That number is significantly higher than even the highest official figures of roughly 20,000 Jews, with a recent census estimating that the real number may be closer to 10,000.
"Jews are in Iran's display window"
Iranian Affairs expert Menashe Amir told Arutz Sheva last October that the image of a "good life" for Jews in Iran is nothing more than a ruse.
“In Iran they know that Jews have influence on the international scene. They want to show the world, and the Americans, that Jews have a good life in Iran,” he stated. “The Jews are Iran’s display window – and they take their orders from the regime."
Just before Rabbi Cohen's death, it was revealed that eight Iranian Jews between 1994 and 1997 were murdered on their way to Israel, belying claims of friendly Iranian governments.
According to a 2011 census, some 8,750-20,000 Jews live in Iran, compared to 80,000-1000,000 before the 1979 Islamic revolution. The community is one of the oldest in the Diaspora, dating back some 2,700 years.