As a child growing up in Tehran I was lucky enough to attend school with Iranians from various religious backgrounds. Mostly Jewish, Christian and Bahai kids. It never occurred to us that religion should play any part on how we felt about each other as friends.
It was not until my family moved to the United States when it became apparent to me that many Moslem Iranians are anti-Semitic and anti-Bahai. At the beginning it was a shock to me. It still kills me to say it, but I have come to accept the ugly truth about us as a community.
Iranian anti-Semitic sentiments are strongest among the Mullahs. Destruction of Israel, not liberation of Palestine has always been one of the pillars of the Islamic Republic. One should not be a bit surprised when President Ahmadinejad calls for Israel's destruction. Mr. Ahmadinejad's anti Semitism is a true face of the Iranian government.
Anti Semitism is well beyond the government though. A recent poll on this website asked Iranians if Israel should be destroyed. A whopping 20% either agreed or were not sure about it. Respondents to this poll are among a class that is supposedly educated and has access to the Internet. They seek destruction of a country that has never harmed Iran.
An article on this Website about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict generates loads of traffic. For weeks people would write how Palestinians have been victimized. Yet nobody discusses how Russians leveled the city of Grozny and killed a 100 thousand Moslems in a week. There is no talk about the sad plight of Moslems in Africa. I could give you numerous other examples.
When an Iranian Jew writes about his or her sad experiences in Iran under the Islamic Republic, instead of apologizing to them for shoving this backward and violent government down their throats; we Moslems have the audacity to tell them that they should put up with it, like everyone else. Iranian Jews have every right to feel so angry and violated. We Moslems destroyed Iran and their homeland. They are upset because we Moslems sold Iran to Islam. Our Jewish population had no hand in this revolution. They were simply stuck with the grim consequences.
It is time for Iranians to face this ugly truth. In my view, Iran's liberation will not begin until we can reconcile with other religious minorities, especially Jewish and Bahai communities. We Moslems need to extend our hands, apologize and beg for their forgiveness.
The Jewish community showed love for their country by not participating in a sham. We should be grateful for that. We should be saddened and sorry that a recent immigrant from Afghanistan has more rights than our Jewish citizens who have lived in Iran for thousands of years. We should be sorry that many of us forget the fact that Iranian Jews and Bahais are Iranian first and the rest does not matter. We should be sorry and horrified that eight innocent Jews in Shiraz were wrongly imprisoned and accused of spying for Israel.
As of this writing, many of our young country men and women are plagued with social and economic problems. Drug addition is rampant among our teenagers. Many Iranian girls are forced into prostitution inside and outside the country. I am grateful to see members of our Jewish community participate in numerous humanitarian projects to assist Iranian refugees and disaster victims around the world. Thank you and keep up the good work. After all, Iran's darkest days are yet to come.