The Islamic regime in Iran and its attitude towards the jews: The religious and political dimensions

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Anti-Semitism is deeply ingrained in Shi'i Iran, both religiously and historically. Apart from being the first enemies of Prophet Muhammad, Jews have been been the subject of gross accusations, such as having a desire for world control, exaggerating the dimensions of the Holocaust, committing genocide, using blood in making unleavened bread, and distorting Holy Scriptures. The establishment of a Jewish state, Israel, added a political dimension to the already hostile religious attitude towards the Jews. This hostile religious-political attitude was contained to a large extent under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, but it burst out with vigour after Khomeini and his fellow clerics took over the reins of power in 1979. Faced with the constraints of international game rules and the pressure of a Western public opinion sensitive to expressions of anti-Semitism, the ruling clerics attempted to conceal their anti-Semitism by adopting a number of tactics, such as issuing far fewer public anti-Semitic statements, or by allowing others, through 'freedom of speech', to 'freely' express their anti-Semitic views. This is in line with taqiyyah (concealment) - one of the basic principles of Shi 'i Islam. The primary purpose of this article is to show that in spite of its repeated public announcements in differentiating between 'Jews' and 'Judaism' (the religious dimension), on the one hand, and 'Zionism' and 'Israel' (the political dimension) on the other, the Islamic regime in Iran not only fails to make such a differentiation, but actually often identifies the two as one.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-117
Number of pages36
JournalImmigrants and Minorities
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography


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