Iran’s troubled relationship with Judaism\Zionism has cropped up in the news quite often lately. First there was the nuclear deal, which drew support from some left-wing Jewish quarters, leaving major Jewish organizations at odds with the Obama administration – and, according to The Washington Post’s Todd Gitlin and Steven M. Cohen, with “the majority of rank-and-file American Jews, who, in fact, support the deal more than Americans generally.”
While we can’t attest to the veracity of this claim, we can confirm that there has been some vocal (albeit cautious) Jewish support for the deal – including by Iranian Jews. In one example published this week in The Guardian, Nazee Moinian, an Iranian Jew living in the US, testified that he welcomed the deal “because all other viable options seem worse” – and because “the Iranian people, as pro-American as they are now, will hate the countries that dropped bombs on them.” Pro-American? Did the enduring ‘Death to America’ chants – however hollow and practiced they may be – give it away? Or was it the timing of the release of “Missile Strike,” Iran’s new “anti-Zionist” video game?
Then there was the more ambiguous take on post-deal Iran that appeared Jewish, pro-Israel media outlet Forward after its reporter, Larry Cohler-Esses, was finally granted a highly-publicized visa to Iran. When he got there, Cohler-Esses found “assurances that access to trade and credit will help Iran evolve into a more enlightened nation,” but also ample evidence that “Iran’s hatred of Israel and the United States continues unabated” and that it is “not to be trusted with nuclear potential.”
And finally, there was Jeffrey Goldberg’s latest on Iran, in which he raised the specter of Iran’s anti-Semitism – an anti-Semitism (as distinct from anti-Israel policies) Moinian, for example, did not really address. Goldberg, for his part, not only addressed its Iranian incarnation – in the form of Iranian leaders’ “theological commitment” to the destruction of Israel – but also questioned US Secretary of State John Kerry and US President Barack Obama about it. Speaking to Goldberg, the two acknowledged the anti-Semitism of Iran’s regime, but insisted it did not preclude “rational” decision-making vis a vis Israel – and this while the debate over the deal was being framed by advocates outside government as one between “Jewish special interests” and “the entire rest of the world.” In Goldberg’s view, placing so much faith in the rationality of Iran’s leadership and dismissing the impact of its deep prejudices is hardly the kind of “jaundiced” attitude to Iran that will ensure “proper implementation” of the nuclear deal – or keep anti-Semites at bay, in the Middle East and at home, rather than empowering them.