Jewish and Persian Connections Mission

In response to statements emanating from the Middle East regarding nuclear threat to both the Jewish and Persian peoples, we seek to project an alternative voice on Jewish- Persian relations that disseminates knowledge about the historical and cultural ties between these two peoples, fosters friendship and openings for creative exchange, and contributes to the identity of adults and children of mixed Jewish and Persian ancestry.

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Please submit your personal writings on the following topics:
a) Relationships between Persians and Jews
b) Raising a Persian Jewish child
C) Historical and/or current affairs between Persians and Jews/ Iran and Israel
D) Current Debate: Is the current conflict between Iran and Israel inherently tied into the Israeli- Palestinian conflict?

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Iran/ Israel Relations (from

( 01/11/07)

Relations between Iran and Israel have alternated from close political alliances between the two states during the era of the Pahlavi dynasty to hostility following the rise to power of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Currently, the countries do not have diplomatic relations with each other. Iran does not even formally recognize Israel as a country, and official government texts often simply refer to it as the "Zionist entity " or the "zionist regime."

The history of the Persian Jews has been uninterrupted for over 2,500 years. It is a Mizrahi Jewish community in the territory of today's Iran, the historical core of the former Persian Empire, which began as early as the 8th century BCE, at the time of captivity of the ancient Israelites in Khorasan.

As of 2005, Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel. A larger population of Iranian Jews reside in Israel with the President of Israel Moshe Katsav, the former Chief of Staff / Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, current Chief of staff Dan Halutz and Israeli hip-hop star Kobi Shimoni (Subliminal) being the most famous of this group.

Pre-revolution relations
Upon its establishment in 1948 and until the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Israel enjoyed cordial relations with Iran (then ruled by the Pahlavi dynasty). Iran was one of the first nations to internationally recognize Israel, and was considered one of Israel's closest and few Muslim friends (Israel has maintained a stable partnership with Turkey, as well). In spite of this, Iran voted in support of the UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 in 1975 which equated Zionism with racism (the resolution, however, was later revoked with Resolution 4686 in 1991, which Iran voted against). However, Iran and Israel did develop close military ties during this period. This can be seen from the development of joint venture military projects, such as Project Flower, the Iranian-Israeli attempt to develop a new missile [1]. For details on Iran's strategic reasoning during the 1970s, see "Israel and the Origins of Iran’s Arab Option: Dissection of a Strategy Misunderstood," Middle East Journal, Volume 60, Number 3, Summer 2006.

[edit] Islamic Revolution
It was Ayatollah Khomeini who first declared Israel as an "enemy of Islam" during the second Pahlavi period in his campaign against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who supported Israel.

After the second phase of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which witnessed the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Iran withdrew its recognition of the state of Israel and cut off all official relations.

However, declassified reports exist which show Israel supplying Iran with weapons during the Iran-Iraq war. [2]. Iran is said to have purchased weapons valued at $2.5 billion from Israel through third party intermediaries during the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s and 1990s (an Israeli source) [3] which ultimately drew.[4][5]

In 1998, Israeli businessman Nahum Manbar was sentenced to 16 years in prison in Israel for doing business with Tehran, and in the course of the investigation, "hundreds of companies" were found to have illegal business dealings with Iran. [6] The fall-out reached the United States as some transactions were alleged to have been part of the Iran-Contra scandal.

According to Dr. Trita Parsi, author of "Treacherous Triangle - The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States," (Yale University Press, 2007), Iran's strategic imperatives compelled the Khomeini government to maintain clandestine ties to Israel, while hope that the periphery doctrine could be resurrected motivated the Jewish State's assistance to Iran.

[edit] Khatami
Under reformist Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, elected in 1997, some believed Iran and Israel would work to improve relations. While at first Khatami's election did not seem to change anything—he called Israel an "illegal state" and a "parasite," [7] signs of small moderation did appear. For example, Khatami has said that Jews should be "safe in Iran" and that all religious minorities should be protected, as they always have been.[8]. In January 2004, he spoke to an Israeli reporter who asked him on what grounds Iran would recognize Israel. This was believed to be the first time he had spoken publicly with an Israeli [9].

At the funeral of Pope John Paul II in April 2005, Khatami was seated close to Israeli President Moshe Katsav. Katsav said that he shook Khatami's hand and the two had a brief conversation about Iran (Katsav was born in Iran). However, Khatami denied this [10].

Other reports indicate that Iran did try to initiate a rapprochment with Israel, recognizing its existence in a proposal to the United States. The report claims that Iran's peace proposal with Israel was not accepted by the United States.[1]

[edit] Ahmadinejad
Main article: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Israel
As of 2006 relations between the two states became very tense primarily due to the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After his election, Ahmadinejad frequently began to call for a complete end to the State of Israel, and has made various anti-Semitic remarks.

On December 8, 2005, Ahmadinejad gave an interview with Iran's Arabic channel 'Al-Alam' during a summit of Muslim nations in Islam's holy city of Mecca:

"Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps," Ahmadinejad said. "Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned. Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, if the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe—like in Germany, Austria or other countries—to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it."

[edit] Iran-Israel military relations
According to the report of the U.S. Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair issued in November of 1987, "the sale of U.S. arms to Iran through Israel began in the summer of 1985, after receiving the approval of President Reagan." [11] These sales included "2,008 TOW missiles and 235 parts kits for Hawk missiles had been sent to Iran via Israel." Further shipments of up to US$2 billion of American weapons from Israel to Iran consisting of 18 F-4 fighter-bombers, 46 Skyhawk fighter-bombers, and nearly 4,000 missiles were folied by the U.S. Department of Justice, and "unverified reports alleged that Israel agreed to sell Iran Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, radar equipment, mortar and machinegun ammunition, field telephones, M-60 tank engines and artillery shells, and spare parts for C-130 transport planes."[12] [13] The London Observer also estimated that Israel's arms sales to Iran during the war totalled US$ 500 million annually [14], and Time Magazine reported that throughout 1981 and 1982, "the Israelis reportedly set up Swiss bank accounts to handle the financial end of the deals." [15] (For more on Israeli Hawk missile sales to Iran see Richard Johns, "Arms Embargo Which Cannot Withstand The Profit Motive," Financial Times (London), 13 November 1987)

Israel also was involved in the arming of Iran prior to the Iran-Iraq war:

Project "Flower" Tzur, a joint collaboration between Iran and Israel, aimed to develop a "state-of-the-art sea-to-sea missile, an advanced version of the U.S. Harpoon missile, with a range of 200 kilometers." (See: Ronen Bergman, "5 billion Reasons to Talk to Iran," Haaretz (Tel Aviv), 19 March 1999; in "Israel's Outstanding Debt to Iran Viewed," FBIS Document FTS19990319001273, 19 March 1999.
Israeli Defense Minister General Ezer Weizmann and Iranian Vice Minister of War General Hasan Toufanian discussed the co-production of Israel's Jericho-2 missile, code named Project Flower. (See: "Minutes from Meeting Held in Tel Aviv between H. E. General M. Dayan, Foreign Minister of Israel, and H.E. General H. Toufanian, Vice Minister of War, Imperial Government of Iran," Top Secret Minutes from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 18 July 1977, in Digital National Security Archive)
Israeli arms deals to Iran continued after the war, although sporadically and unofficially. [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

[edit] Perceptions of Israeli threats to attack Iran during 2003-2007
A Scottish newspaper claimed in November 2003 that Israel warned that it is prepared to take unilateral military action against Iran if the international community fails to stop any development of nuclear weapons at the country's atomic energy facilities.[2] It cited Israeli defence minister Shaul Mofaz stating, "under no circumstances would Israel be able to tolerate nuclear weapons in Iranian possession". In December 2005, a British newspaper claimed that the Israeli military had been ordered by Israeli prime minister (at that time) Ariel Sharon to plan for possible strikes on uranium enrichments sites in Iran in March 2006, based on Israeli intelligence estimates that Iran would be able to build nuclear weapons in two to four years. It was claimed that the special forces command was in the highest stage of readiness for an attack (state G) in December. Ariel Sharon reportedly said, "Israel - and not only Israel - cannot accept a nuclear Iran. We have the ability to deal with this and we're making all the necessary preparations to be ready for such a situation."[3] Israeli military Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, was quoted as responding to the question of how far Israel was ready to go to stop Iran's nuclear energy program with the statement "Two thousand kilometers".[4]

Seymour Hersh has also claimed that US Department of Defense civilians led by Douglas Feith have been working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine potential nuclear, chemical-weapons, and missile targets inside Iran[5].

Israel is estimated to have between 200-400 nuclear weapons and well-developed missile delivery systems, but there are neither confirmations nor denials nor other information regarding the intent to use them in the operations allegedly being planned.

On 08 May 2006, Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres said in an interview with Reuters that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map," Army Radio reported.[6] Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, drew unusually stiff criticism from an analyst on Israel's state television, Yoav Limor, for talking of destroying another country.[7]

On May 26 2006, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov reiterated Moscow's commitment to supply Iran with sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles.

A secret Israeli plan to strike Iranian nuclear enrichment facilities at Natanz with nuclear bunker busters was disclosed to the Times of London in January 2007. [21] [22]