Jews in Iran Keeping Low Profile

Jews still living in Iran are keep a low profile as protests against the regime continue. An Iranian activist says they're doing the right thing.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz ,

Iranian-Israeli sign: "Death to the dictator"
Iranian-Israeli sign: "Death to the dictator"
Israel News Photo: (Shahyad magazine)

Jews originally from Iran living in Israel and Los Angeles have joined with other expatriate Iranians in public protest against the Islamic Republic ever since last month's fraudulent elections there. Jews still living in Iran, however, are keeping a low
"The Jews in Iran are their last problem. They have 45 million non-Jews on their hands to worry about at the moment."

According to a pro-democracy source within Iran, none of the human rights groups active in the country have reported any news regarding the singling out of Jews under cover of the recent turmoil. Taking into account that Iranian Jews have been "under scrutiny, surveillance, oppression and observation for the past 30 years by mullahs and Basij forces, recently there has not been any news - any more than what we have been witnessing for the past 30 years," the source said.

As for Jewish youths and students, the source noted they have not been openly involved in public protest activities, on the one hand, but they also have not been attending classes, on the other. According to the pro-democracy activist, "[The Jews] really should not have been participating, and have not done so. In my opinion they have done the right thing."

Concluding his message, which was received by Israel National News by way of a third party, the Iranian source added: "I hope with such a short answer to have comforted those who might have been worrying about [the Iranian Jews] outside Iran."

Regarding the complete silence from the Iranian Jewish community at this time, an expatriate Iranian pro-democracy activist commented to Israel National News, "Jews are very smart. They know how to play the game with the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). The IRI is almost on its way out. The Jews in Iran are their last problem. They have 45 million non-Jews on their hands to worry about at the moment."

There are currently approximately 18,000 Jews living in Iran, a nation of over 60 million people.

Iranian Jews in L.A. Raise Their Voices, Carefully
While Jews of Iranian background in the Los Angeles area joined thousands of non-Jewish Iranian expatriates in anti-Islamic-Republic demonstrations several times outside the Federal Building, the community's leadership has maintained a cautious official silence. They have said they fear a backlash against the relatives of members of their community still in Iran.

Jews in L.A. have confirmed that their relatives in Iran are fearful of being scapegoated by government forces interested in directing anger away from the regime. As of now, it is said, the Jews are keeping a low profile.

Young Iranian Jews from Los Angeles, on the other hand, have been using Facebook and Twitter, much like other supporters of the new Iranian revolution, to voice their views without endangering family members in Iran.

Jews of Iranian Descent in Israel Protested Too
Like the Iranian Jews of Los Angeles, the 180,000 Jews of Iranian background in Israel also have familial connections in "old country" of Iran. However, demonstrations calling for support for the Iranian pro-democracy movement and against the Islamist regime took place in two main locations in Israel in late June.

In Tel Aviv, dozens of Iranian-Israelis were joined by university students outside the American embassy, calling for American intervention and support for the Iranian protesters. They waved royalist Iranian flags, chanted anti-Islamist-regime slogans and held a moment of silence in memory of Neda Soltan, whose death at the hands of the Basij militia was captured on film.

In Holon, where the largest Iranian-Jewish community is located, nearly 160 people gathered to express solidarity with the Iranian pro-democracy movement, down to carrying signs reading "Death to the dictator" - a slogan common at rallies in Iran. They also chanted support for pre-Islamist Iran.