Iranian Jews warned to lie low over Rosh Hashanah

The holiday coincides with the first anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, with mass protests expected.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Iran’s Jewish leadership warned its community Sunday to keep off the streets during this weekend’s celebration of Rosh Hashanah, ahead of expected demonstrations on the anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, which coincides with the Jewish new year, Iran International reported Monday.

In the Telegram posting, Iranian Jewish leaders discussed safety concerns without citing specific  threats, writing: “All worshipers are strongly requested to refrain from stopping and gathering in the streets for any reason during Rosh Hashanah and after performing religious duties in synagogues.”

Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died a year ago after being taken into custody by Tehran’s morality police after she was caught not wearing her hijab correctly.

Her death sparked months-long mass demonstrations throughout the country, led especially by women, whose slogan was “Woman, Life, Freedom.”

Five Jews are among those who are still being held in detention, allegedly over their roles in the protests.

Although the protests have tailed off in recent months after a fierce crackdown, killing nearly 500 demonstrators and making mass arrests, the mullahs fear that the anniversary, which falls exactly on the first day of Rosh Hashana Saturday, will bring demonstrators out to the streets again.

Speaking ingratiatingly about the regime’s security forces, the Tehran Jews Association said that it had “coordinated” with “the respected police force of Greater Tehran” to make the “necessary arrangements… for the safety and comfort of our dear fellow believers for the celebration of the glorious and fateful day of Rosh Hashanah.”

They also thanked “the loved ones of the police force for their unquestionable and constant help.”

Ben Sabi, an Iran expert and researcher for the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies who found the posting according to the opposition new site, said that the leadership had no choice but to show its allegiance by complimenting the police.

“This is what they have to do,” he said.

The message also spoke of Iranian Jewish citizens’ historic loyalty to the country “during its several thousand years of stay,” in which the community “has always defended the national interests and left a brilliant track record in this regard.”

The authors added that they have “no doubt” that the community “will once again draw a line against the evil plans of Iran’s enemies and celebrate the magnificent ceremony of Rosh Hashanah away from any sidelines,” said the report.

In explaining the directive, Alireza Nader, a Washington, DC-based Iran scholar told Iran International, which works out of London, “The remaining few members of the Jewish community in Iran live in constant fear.  Any sort of public pronouncement or guidance from their leadership should be seen in light of the community’s extreme vulnerability.

There are some 8,500 Jews left in Iran, down from over 100,000 who lived there prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979. They are in constant danger of arrest for being “Zionists,” and periodically proclaim their antipathy to Israel as an enemy of their country.