Iran is frequently at odds with Israel, despite having the second biggest Jewish community in the Middle East. DW's Theresa Tropper spoke with the director of Tehran's Jewish Committee, about why that is the case.
DW: How is life as a Jew in the Islamic Republic?
Siamak Morsadegh: It's a lot better than many people think. Jews are a recognized minority here, so we can practice our religion freely. We have more than 20 working synagogues in Tehran and at least five kosher butcheries. In some European countries that is not allowed because of animal rights. In Iran, it is.
Generally speaking, the Jews' condition in Iran has always been better than in Europe. In our country's history, there was never a time when all Iranians had the same religion, race or language, so there is a high degree of tolerance. Jews and Muslims respect each other, but at the same time, we know there are differences. So the rate of intermarriage between Jews and other groups in Iran is the lowest one in the world, it's less than 0.1 percent.
Does that mean Jews live in the same places but are separate from other religious groups in Iran?
Not at all. We have economic relationships with Muslims, my closest friends are Muslims. The hospital I work in is a Jewish hospital, for example, but more than 95 percent of both our personnel and patients is Muslim. It's strictly forbidden to ask about religion there because the most important verse of Torah, which is written on top of the hospital, says: "Treat other people like yourself." It does not say "other Jews," it says "other people." It shows that we have a practical relationship with each other and cooperate to make the world a better place.
Beautifully said, and eloquently spoken!!!
But this has been a source of friction for the Israeli government for years, because Jews in Iran generally are living so well that they see no point in "making Aliyah" (immigrating) to Israel.
Unfortunately, the government in Tehran is in Israel's crosshairs, and the Israelis are slobbering all over themselves to figure out a way to regime change Iran; and also unfortunately, President Trump may just attempt to do this before he leaves office, potentially putting the US military squarely in confrontation with Russia, whose military and civilian leadership have always said that should Iran be attacked, it will come to Iran's aid.
And to that potential end, comes the following, very disturbing story from 13 May of this year:
Such a war would very likely see the return of the draft in this country, for both our young men and our young women, as our troops are stretched so thinly right now.