(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
June 6, 2018
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is an unapologetic bigot. He regularly takes to Twitter to espouse his crazy nonsense: that ISIS was created by the U.S. and Israel, that the UN and Arab states conspire against him, or threatens that Iran is preparing to launch a nuclear bomb.
He also frequently glorifies terrorism and calls on Palestinians to engage in violence against their Jewish neighbours.
That’s what we’ve come to expect from the world’s top state-sponsor of terrorism and one of the most repressive nations on earth.
Iran’s head of state once again showed his true colours this week on Twitter.
“Our stance against Israel is the same stance we have always taken. Israel is a malignant cancerous tumor in the West Asian region that has to be removed and eradicated: it is possible and it will happen,” he wrote.
To “remove and eradicate” Israel would amount to genocide. That’s because over the past century, Jews have been forced to flee their homes in countries across the Middle East and seek refuge in Israel.
To destroy Israel is to destroy Jewish heritage and civilization in the region of its creation.
Critics of Israel often portray the country as the home of white colonialists who displaced the Palestinian natives in pursuit of a Jewish homeland. But the truth is far more complicated.
Jewish people have a rich history in the region that dates back about three thousand years.
For centuries, Christian, Jews and Muslims co-existed in the Middle East. But today, due to fierce Arab nationalism and fundamentalist Islamist rule in both Saudi Arabia and Iran – the most powerful and influential states in the region – we’ve witnessed a mass ethnic cleansing of religious minorities throughout the Middle East.
Iran once had a thriving Jewish community; there were approximately 150,000 Jews living in Iran at the end of the Second World War.
Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, however, life became increasingly difficult for Jews, and most were forced to flee. Iran’s population is now 99.4% Muslim, with 0.3% Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians, according to the CIA’s World Factbook.
Likewise, the city of Baghdad in Iraq was once home to a vibrant Jewish community established in the eighth century. At the start of WWI, Jews made up one-third of Baghdad’s population.
But over the past 100 years, the community has faced intense persecution. They were harassed, arrested, their property taken, synagogues were closed, many were killed, while the rest fled to Israel. Today, just a small handful of Jews remain in Iraq.
The same story played out in Syria, home to 30,000 Jews in 1945. Today, that number is down to 18. Not 18,000. Just 18.
That’s better than Egypt, whose Jewish lineage dates back to the Ptolemaic Kingdom in 305 BC. As recently as 1948, there were 80,000 Jewish residents in Egypt. In 2016, reports state that only 6 Jews remain in the entire country – all women over the age of 65.
Since Israel’s creation 70 years ago, approximately 850,000 Jews fled or were expelled from Muslim countries in the region. Persecuted Jews had no choice but to leave and find a safe haven in Israel.
After Jewish people were chased from their homes across the Middle East, Iran now wants to annihilate Jewish people in their last place of refuge. We must do everything in our power to ensure...(READ MORE)