Wikileaks: Fearful Jews emigrating from Iran
From a Wikileaks cable from August 2009:
Morris Motamed, a former two-term MP for Iran’s Jewish community, told IRPO that four Jewish youths were arrested by Basij militiamen while participating in the June 20 street demonstrations in Tehran. The four teenagers spent one night herded into a parking lot with dozens of other detained demonstrators. According to their families, the whole group was badly beaten with batons and stun guns throughout the night before being moved to a police station, where the physical abuse continued. Two of the young men were released after “two or three days” but the other two were transferred to Evin Prison and held 18 days. According to Motamed, who said he maintains ties with many former and current IRIG officials from his days as an MP, the two young men were released after he spoke with Hossein Ali Amiri, who is the deputy to Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Shahroudi. The two were re-arrested in their homes on July 18 by “IRGC security.”…Motamed said that at least one of the young men picked up July 18, Yeghoutiel Shaoolian, was among the detainees prosecuted in the August 1 show trial. He said that Shaoolian’s mother told him that at some point during his incarceration her son made a taped statement in which he confessed to spying for Israel. Motamed believes that Shaoolian’s confession may be linked to the testimony of the “unnamed spy” referenced in the six-part indictment released by the government in advance of the trial. Motamed, who was an MP during the trial of the 13 Jewish Iranians arrested in 1999 in Shiraz and Esfahan on espionage charges, fears a repeat of that ordeal, which he says had far-reaching repercussions for Iran’s Jewish community.
Motamed said that the consensus of the community is that only about 20,000 Jews now remain in Iran and noted that emigration has increased over the past two years following President Ahmadinejad’s increasingly strident rhetoric against Israel and his public questioning of the Holocaust. Though Jewish Iranians “continue to love Iran” they are being compelled to leave, mostly out of fear that they will become targets of a government backlash should Israel confront Iran militarily. Motamed said he lives in fear of an Israeli strike because the Jewish community has no ability to protect itself from what he believes would be a wide-scale attack on Jews and Jewish interests. He said that while economic opportunity and the chance to live somewhere as a “first-class citizen” do factor into decisions to leave, the uptick in departures is driven mostly by fear of the future. Motamed noted that as a community leader, he has been asked for many years his opinion by Jews weighing their options. Until two years ago, he told people they had to make the decision themselves. Now, he said, he recommends moving out of Iran to every Jew who asks his opinion. He estimated that 80 percent of Jews emigrate to the United States, while the rest relocate to Israel or Europe. (Note: Motamed’s wife is emigrating to the U.S. and he is considering his options.)