Sunday, July 01, 2007

Iranian Jewish leaders oppose US bombing of Iran

Iranian Jewish leaders in the US are opposing calls for a military strike on the Ahmadinejad regime, advocating support for internal democratic movements instead, Karmel Melamed reports in The Jewish Journal of LA:

"Iranian Jewish leaders, including Sam Kermanian, secretary general of the L.A.-based Iranian American Jewish Federation, argue that U.S. officials should put their efforts into supporting democratic movements within Iran, since nearly 90 percent of the country's population is believed to oppose the regime.

"The people of Iran are so fed up with their regime that they are willing to risk their freedom and even their lives for a chance at a better future," Kermanian said. "But they need to know that their struggle indeed has a chance, and the civilized world in general and the United States in particular will support them in this struggle."

Leaders of many local Iranian Jewish groups have mostly stayed out of political matters concerning Iran, out of fear that their statements could be used by the Iranian government as excuses to punish the nearly 20,000 Jews still living in Iran.

Frank Nikbakht, an Iranian Jewish activist and director of the L.A.-based Committee for Minority Rights in Iran, said a substantial number of Jews have stayed in Iran because they feel they will face economic and cultural challenges if they leave the country.

"Some successful and resourceful Jews [in Iran] have either a false sense of security or are willing to take risks, hoping to outlast the regime," said Nikbakkht, "while some have converted to Islam or other 'safer' religions such as Christianity to help them survive."

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