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US agency: Iran’s regime ‘propagates and tolerates antisemitism’ (www.jpost.com)


BERLIN – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Tuesday published its 2020 report on states who persecute religious minorities. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s antisemitic targeting its tiny Jewish population, Israel, Christians and Jews in the Diaspora, was cited in the report.“Iranian officials and clerics regularly call for the elimination of the State of Israel, and members of the Jewish community have been targeted on the basis of real or perceived ties to Israel,” the report stated, adding that “In December 2018, a group of Evangelical Christians were also arrested and charged with promoting ‘Zionist Christianity.”’According to the seven-page section on the Islamic Republic, “In October 2018, Ali Reza Soltan-Shahi, an Iranian government official from the Office of the Iranian Presidency, organized an antisemitic conference in Tehran that accused Jews of manipulating the global economy and exploiting the Holocaust. Jews in Iran do not hold senior government or military positions and many are believed to be under government surveillance.”The report said that between 15,000 and 20,000 Jews live in Iran and the capital city Tehran hosts 13 synagogues.  The USCIRF report noted that “Although government-driven antisemitic sentiment in 2018 was not as pronounced as in previous years, the government continued to propagate and tolerate antisemitism. “The USCIRF  wrote that “In August 2018, the Iran Action Group at the State Department issued a report in which it detailed Iran’s targeting of religious minorities, noting ‘Baha’is, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and Sunni and Sufi Muslims face widespread persecution, discrimination, and unjust imprisonment.”’ A personal view of commission member Anurima Bhargava, who was appointed to the commission in 2018 by US Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, for a term ending on May 19, 2020, was listed in the section on Iran.“Iran raises a multitude of political and human rights concerns. My view is that the Commission should not raise concerns about Iran’s relationship with Israel or other countries unless that relationship has a direct impact on religious freedom in Iran,” said Bhargava.However, in January, the Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, testified before the House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism on confronting the rise in antisemitic domestic terrorism and said that Iran’s regime is the top state-sponsor of Holocaust denial and antisemitism.The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity. The US congress created the USCIRF to monitor, analyze and report on threats to freedom of religion .The Islamic Republic was listed by the US State Department as the worst state-sponsor of terrorism.The USCIRF wrote that it “documented a particular uptick in the persecution of Baha’is and local government officials who supported them in 2019. Iran’s government blamed Baha’is – without evidence – for widespread popular protests, accusing the community of collaboration with Israel, where the Baha’i World Centre is located. Iran’s government also continued to promote hatred against Baha’is and other religious minorities on traditional and social media channels.”Commission member Johnnie Moore said that Azerbaijan does not meet the threshold necessary to be included in this report. “As I have said before: it is a country where Sunni and Shi’a clerics pray together, where Evangelical and Russian Orthodox Christians serve together, and where thriving Jewish communities enjoy freedom and total security in their almost entirely Islamic country.”He added that Azerbaijan “Is a Muslim-majority country that has hosted prominent Hindu leaders and it is a Shi’a majority neighbor of Iran whose commitment to peace led it long ago to forge a vibrant, public and diplomatic relationship with the State of Israel.”Moore also identified “Bahrain’s commitment to social harmony has not just been an internal matter, it has also become an integral part of its foreign policy through courageous efforts – direct and indirect – to promote interfaith tolerance and to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, especially in 2019.”The US acting director of national intelligence and Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell said in October that “Threatening the destruction of Israel is something that should not be dismissed, especially when the threats come from Iranian regime officials who regularly use terrorism as a weapon of intimidation. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”Grenell had responded to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration’s refusal to label Iran’s calls to obliterate the nearly 7 million Jews in Israel as an expression of antisemitism.Mojtaba Zonnour, chairman of National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in Iran’s Majlis legislature, said in October: “If Israel or America make a mistake, Israel won’t live for longer than 20 or 30 minutes.”Weeks before Zonnour threatened the destruction of Israel, Maj.-Gen. Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), delivered a call to exterminate the Jewish state that was publicized by the state-funded IRNA agency as well as other Iranian regime outlets.Salami, speaking to an audience of IRGC leaders, declared, “This sinister regime [Israel] must be wiped off the map and this is no longer… a dream [but] it is an achievable goal.”He said the Islamic Republic of Iran had “managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the impostor Zionist regime.”When asked whether the statement by Salami and Zonnour was antisemitic, Grenell told FoxNews.com, “Yes.”Germany’s Foreign Ministry and Merkel’s office view the Iranian regime’s statement to destroy Israel as merely “anti-Israel rhetoric.”USCIRF recommended Iran along with other 13 countries be “designated as Countries of Particular Concern, meaning their governments engage in or tolerate ‘systematic, ongoing, egregious’ violations of religious freedom.”

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