IRNA/RT – Iran boasts the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel with a population of more than 8,700.
Despite tensions between Israel and Iran, Jews claim to feel safer there than they would in the US or EU.
“The Jews of Iran can freely worship and perform the traditional rights. They face no kind of pressure. Our synagogues here are safer than in the US or in Europe. The Iranian government supports us,” Homayoun Sameyehead of the Iran Jewish Association told RT.
Decades after the exodus which followed the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s is the only growing Jewish community in any predominantly Muslim country. The country boasts 65 synagogues, a 100-bed Jewish hospital and a Jewish cemetery established in 1933, while Tehran has a Jewish library with 20,000 texts, and an abundance of kosher restaurants.
“I come to this restaurant because Jews come here. My children can read the Torah in Hebrew but they cannot speak it. There is no one you can talk to in Hebrew so there is no need for that,” one Jewish interviewee told RT.
Iranian Jews must abide by the laws of the land, which include women wearing the hijab in public.
“We have to wear the hijab. We are allowed to drink alcohol but only in specific places but we have got used to all of that. We obey the law,” another Jewish woman told RT.
Iran has one of the world’s largest and oldest Jewish communities outside of Israel, despite historic tensions between the two nations.
“Benjamin Netanyahu and the anti-Semites need each other: they supply each other with what they need – intolerance and hatred,” Ciamak Morsadegh, a Jewish-Iranian parliamentarian, said previously of the two nations’ often tumultuous relationship, as cited by the Independent.
“It is an unspoken alliance which suits them, but it causes great harm to the rest of us. The fact is, Iran is a place where Jews feel secure and we are happy to be here,” he says. “We are proud to be Iranian. I know this doesn’t follow the Zionist script, but this is the reality.”
“The Israelis offer money to Jewish people to emigrate to Israel, but we choose to stay. My view is that the actions of Netanyahu and his government, the way they behave towards the Palestinians, cause problems for Jews everywhere.”