Originally published at MintPress News.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, continues to campaign in favor of war with Iran despite last week’s historic nuclear deal. But a recent, important critic of his rhetoric comes from his own faith.
Haroun Yashayaei, leader of Iran’s Jewish community, took to the local media to strongly criticize the Israeli leader and voice his support for the Iran deal.
The opinion piece, titled “Your Time Is Over, Mr. Netanyahu,” was originally published in Iran’s Shargh Daily shortly after the nuclear deal was announced and appeared last Thursday in an English translation on IranReview.org. Yashayaei, who is chairman of the board of the Tehran Jewish Committee, was blunt about his views on Netanyahu:
[H]e rushed to Washington to take part in a session of the US Congress to prevent a deal between Iran and the P5+1 group and to propagate all his lies against the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic of Iran to have proxies of the rich Jewish lobby in the United States clap for him and admire him. However, the US President Barack Obama did not meet with him and once more, all people in the world heard that despite all the fuss made by Netanyahu and in spite of his financial and political dealings, his time is long over. In the past few days during which negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group on the removal of sanction against the Iranian nation reached a conclusion, confusion has been the main hallmark of the current policies of the Israel.
There is no doubt that the Israeli prime minister is so narcissistic that none of these developments can deter him from following his delusional goals.
Yashayaei also took issue with the prime minister’s July 12 statements to the Israeli cabinet, during which Netanyahu accused Iran of practicing “murderous aggression” toward America, ignoring Israel’s recent aggressive attacks on Gaza. Yashayaei responded:
It was quite amazing that a regime that has been occupying a large part of the Palestinian lands since 1967, has never heeded any of the resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly or Security Council, and has even rejected to temporarily stop building settlements on the occupied territories to start talks with representatives of the Palestinian people, allows itself to call the Iranian nation and government occupationist because they defend the rights of the Palestinian people.
Israeli media reports attempted to defend the prime minister from the attack by claiming Yashayaei might have published the statement under duress. “Yashayaei’s comments against Israel have been perceived as a calculated effort to protect the Jewish community by flaunting their patriotic credentials,” wrote Ariel Ben Solomon in the Jerusalem Post on Monday.
In reality, Iran’s Jewish minority are well protected by the country’s laws and constitution, and they are active members of Iranian society, according to a historical overview on My Jewish Learning:
Today, Jews participate in Iranian civic and political life. Many Jews join the Iranian masses in protesting the State of Israel on the annual “Qods Day” (Jerusalem Day), and during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), Iranian Jews supported the war effort by donating ambulances and surplus goods as well as making hospital visits. Some Jewish youth even took part in the fighting and were wounded in combat.
According to a 2013 article in The Washington Post, fewer than 30,000 Jews remain in Iran, down from a historic peak of 100,000 prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979. On the whole, the Post’s Jason Rezaian reported, they identify with their homeland and are proud of their country of birth. One example is found in Ciamak Morsadegh, the lone Jewish member of Iran’s parliament. He told Rezaian: “We are not tenants in this country. We are Iranians, and we have been for 30 centuries.”