Tag Archives: human-rights

The #ISIS threat and question of human rights in #Iran

27 May

Some of my colleagues believe that a nuclear deal with Iran is likely to improve the human rights situation there. A major reason which I often hear to justify this view is: by reaching a deal, the threat of a U.S attack against Iran will fall substantially, thus leading to Iranian politics becoming less security oriented, or as some say “securitized”. And the less securitized the political atmosphere in Iran is, the less the regime can abuse human rights.

Yes, but no.

Yes, a deal is likely to significantly reduce the chances of war with the U.S. But, Iranian hard liners are likely to find another excuse to replace the threat posed by the US to securatize Iranian politics: namely the threat posed by ISIS to Iran.

So when it comes to the question of human rights and post nuclear agreement Iran, the best scenario is likely to be short term improvements in human rights. Not much more.

Abusing human rights is an existential necessity for Iran’s hard liners who rule the regime. And soon after a nuclear deal with the U.S, the threat posed by ISIS is likely to give them another excuse to crackdown against human rights activists in Iran, again. They’ll be back to their old tricks in no time.

Iran: waiting for the next massacre?

1 Dec

Nothing like a crisis to bring people together. 

One of the positive consequences of the 2009 uprising in Iran was the fact that it brought Iranians living in exile together- relatively and comparatively speaking of course. The issue of human rights abuse in Iran gained a bigger prominence among them.

Now that the uprising has died down, focus on human rights abuses in Iran has subsided considerably. Another important fact which has pushed it off the agenda is the recent nuclear talks.

Kudos to Iranian human rights lawyer and the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center Payam Akhavan for publishing an op-ed in the Washington Post today about this issue. The writers conclude:

The interim nuclear deal and diplomatic engagement with Iran are a welcome opportunity for change. But the world should ensure that human rights are not sacrificed at the altar of political expedience.

I for one do not think a nuclear deal will improve human rights in Iran. The regime in Iran lives from human rights abuses. It’s an existential issue for its leaders. Between all the different factors which keep the regime in power, the monopoly of force and its brutal use against its citizens is the biggest. Without it, the current regime which has been one of the worst in contemporary Iranian history could fall.

The question which Iranians in exile must ask ourselves is: are we going to wait for the next massive wave of human rights abuse like the one we saw in 2009 to put the issue of human rights on top of the agenda again?

The answer, depressingly so seems yes.

Why? because much to delight of the regime Iranians in exile remain as divided as before. There is no leadership.

In fact when it comes to democracy, some of the alternatives abroad are not much better. Without mentioning names, there are some so-called supporters of democracy in Iran in the West who much like the regime would love to shut the mouths of anyone who is “guilty” of disagreeing with their point of view. 34 years of living in Western democracies has taught them nothing about what democracy really means. Not just one such group, but quite a few.

No thanks. I don’t want your “democracy”.

On this holocaust remembrance day

7 Apr

On this Holocaust remembrance day, we remember the past and look forward to the future.

The best way to respect the legacy of millions of the innocent people who were killed for their race, is to ensure that it never happens again.

What can you and I do?

First and foremost, we must fight racism. There is no difference between those who blame all the world’s problems on Jews or Muslims or other religions. Next time someone says something like this, think about challenging them with facts. Nothing like standing up to a racist bigot with facts.

We must also help the refugees among us. There are millions of refugees around the world who are fleeing persecution. Here in Israel we have refugees fleeing the Eritrean regime, which is one of the world’s most oppressive. Some have even called it the North Korea of Africa. To me, helping them is upholding and sanctifying the memory of the fallen of the holocaust.

Next time you see a refugee, just think what they have left behind. Think about not being able to see your family or going back to your country – ever again! Thats how they feel every day..

I enclose with this “rare and moving footage dated to April 20th 1945, inmates at Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp sing the anthem of hope Hatikva.”

Israel is the symbol of the realization of our hope at the most desperate hour in the modern history of the Jewish people. My generation will make sure that we will not lose her again. The previous generation had to do this through war, we will have to do it through peace.

Never lose hope.

Ladies and gentlemen, our national anthem, the Haitkvah (hope).

Goodbye, My Dear Rabbi

5 Mar

Rabbi Menachem Froman. May he rest in peace.

Today Rabbi Menachem Froman died, aged 68.

He was a leading advocate of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

For years he lived and taught at the settlement of Tekoa, where he became one of the leading voices among settler rabbis for peace.

I never met Rabbi Froman, but I wish I had.

The first time I heard about him was when I was watching a video clip about his visit to a Palestinian village after a Mosque had been attacked by terrorists in late 2011. I have posted it below.

I was moved by his anger against the terrorists, as well as his sympathy for the victims.

I can just about imagine how I would have felt if my synagogue in Tehran had been attacked by terrorists. How sickened and angry I would feel to pick up burned piece of prayer books, to look at burned out walls and to read insults against holy Jewish prophets sprayed on the walls. And how I would have wanted a local Muslim religious leader to come and show sympathy to my community while condemning the terrorists. This is how all minorities want to be treated. When they are targets of terrorism because of their race and religion, they want to feel a sense of solidarity with the majority. They want to feel that they are not alone.

Well today I belong to the majority and Rabbi Froman’s words in Qusra against the terrorists and his solidarity with the Palestinian minority exemplifies the values which I was taught as a human being and as a Jew.

The video and his words still move me.

Rest in Peace, Rabbi Froman.

Why I Voted For Meretz, A Left-Wing Israeli Party

23 Jan

Its been a busy and exciting day. I had to do quite a few interviews and had the privilege of voting. 

I say privilege because while I was voting, my heart was in Israel but my mind and thoughts were with thousands of young Iranians who in 2009 were tortured, maimed or killed for wanting the right to vote freely in their own country. For their vote to be counted and for their voice to be heard in their land or in other words, for their undisputed right which was brutally taken away from them. They were with me with each step that I took from my house to the polling booth. You can leave Iran, but Iran never leaves you, especially during such moments.

Now to why I voted for Meretz.

Because I want a party to represent me that has had a solid record for supporting the peace process. I want a party that wants equal rights for all citizens of Israel, be they Jews, Arabs, or Homosexuals. I was a minority once and now I am the majority. I want the minorities in my country to be treated the same way that I wanted to be treated when I was a minority in other lands. I voted Meretz because I want the religious organizations to have less influence over our lives and the government.

As importantly, I voted left because I refuse to be scared. In fact, I voted left because I have tremendous confidence in the state of Israel, in her people, in her potential, in her young and old. I believe that I live in the strongest country in the Middle East. In fact on a one to one basis, we are militarily stronger than quite a few European countries too.

I voted left because I refuse to live in fear.

I voted left because I refuse to spend each day worrying about annihilation by the Iranian regime, by the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt and Syria, by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

I voted left because I believe that Israel has a legitimate right to exist, that we have the right to defend ourselves and can defend ourselves, but that we should do it smarter. And by that I mean fight the militants when they attack you, but don’t punish an entire nation, because that helps the extremists who want to hurt us.

I voted left because I am always willing to fight whoever attacks me, but I am more willing to make friends with the people of the Middle East.

Interesting France 24 Report on Iran’s Jews

19 Jan

Tonight, France24 aired an interesting short report about Iran’s Jewish community.

Entitled “Being Jewish in the Islamic Republic of Iran”, it takes a brief look at the life and challenges of Iran’s 8800 strong Jewish community.

There have recently been a number of murders in Iran, where the victims were Jews. This has created concern for Jewish Iranians abroad. However to date there has been no proof that the victims were killed because of their religion. All we have to go on is hearsay. Once we know more, then we can judge. From my conversations with members of Iran’s Jewish community who recently left Iran, Jews in Iran do not feel threatened because of their religion.

“Just keep your head down, make your money and don’t get into trouble with the government by talking about politics or taking part in demonstrations. Then you will be fine” I was told.

In terms of whether the life of Iran’s Jews would be in danger in case of war between Iran and Israel, I personally find it difficult to believe that regime will start killing its own Jewish population in such a situation. It could start attacking Jewish targets abroad, like it did with AMIA in Buenos Aires in 1994, but massacring its own Jews is a self-defeating move which Iran’s leadership is very unlikely to make.

Living as a Jew in Iran is not ideal. Iran’s Jews face inequality in a number of areas such as getting government jobs, but I would not say that they are living in danger. Lets hope it does not come to this, but if they decide, they can leave anytime they wish, (unless they are taking part in national service). Its not like in the 80s when we had to go through hell to get an exit visa.

You can watch the report here