Rabbi Younes Hamami Lalehzar (left), the current religious leader of Iranian Jews, during a meeting in Tehran (September 2023)

Iran’s Government Pressures Jewish Minority For Election Propaganda

Friday, 03/01/2024

The tiny Jewish community in Tehran is facing intense pressure from the clerical regime to mobilize its members to vote on Friday in the parliamentary elections.

Iran’s regime launched a high-intensity campaign to stop boycotts of the parliament and Assembly of Experts elections.

Tehran-born Ben Sabti, an expert on Iranian Jews from the Israeli National Security and Strategy Institute, told Iran International that there are reports from Tehran that the government "is pressuring the Jews to vote.” He said the regime is exploiting the Jews to promote the elections and “make propaganda for the election.”

Initial reports from Iran, as well as opinion surveys conducted from abroad, speak of the lowest ever turnout on Friday, as Iranians have become more disillusioned with the Islamic Republic and its highly controlled and manipulated elections.

Sabti said he does not recall such an organized campaign in the past. The Iranian Jewish community were provided buses to take members to a stadium to promote the election and had a “festival of joy” about the election. The Jewish community also notified its members that there are "five or six synagogues” where Jews can vote, according to Sabti.

Dr. Homayoun Sameyah, the Chair of the Tehran Jewish Association, who is also a member of Iran’s regime-controlled parliament, launched an attack against Israel.

MP Homayoun Sameyah, the Chair of the Tehran Jewish Association

According to a report in the Islamic Republic News Agency, Sameyah discussed the “crimes of the Zionist regime” on Tuesday. He noted that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini separated Zionism from the Jewish religion. Sameyeh said that Zionism is not only limited to Judaism, it also exists in Christianity (Christian Zionism). He also propagated a wild anti-Israel conspiracy theory advocated by Iran's rulers: "The ISIS terrorist group was created by Zionists.”

According to the authoritative website Jewish Virtual Library (JVL), “The Jews live under the status of dhimmi, with the restrictions imposed on religious minorities. Jewish leaders fear government reprisals if they draw attention to the official mistreatment of their community. Iran’s official government-controlled media often issue anti-Semitic propaganda.”

The JVL noted that “A prime example is the government’s publishing of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious Czarist forgery, in 1994 and 1999. Jews also suffer varying degrees of officially sanctioned discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education, and public accommodations.”

Prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, there were as many as 100,000 Jews living in Iran. The majority fled Iran after Islamists seized power.

Iran’s regime has intensified its crackdown over the last five months on the country’s tiny Jewish community after the Hamas attack on Israel.

Iran International reported in October on rising pressure on Tehran’s Jewish community, which serves as an umbrella organization for the estimated 9,000 Jews, to bash Israel for its war against the Iran-backed Hamas terrorist organization. Hamas invaded Israel on October 7 and slaughtered 1,200 people. The Sunni terrorist movement Hamas kidnapped over 240 people.

In September, Iran International reported in connection with the one-year anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s murder, which coincided with the Jewish New Year on September 16, that Jewish community leaders warned Jews to stay off the streets during anticipated protests.

A Telegram posting from Iran’s Jewish community wrote “All worshipers are strongly requested to refrain from stopping and gathering in the streets for any reason during Rosh Hashanah and after performing religious duties in synagogues.”

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