Sunday, December 17, 2006

L A Jews lambast lone Jewish MP in Iran

Being the lone Jewish MP in the Iranian Parliament ain't easy. Maurice Motamed did have the courage to publicly condemn President Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial conference. But Motamed's visit earlier this month to Los Angeles sparked criticism from Iranian Jews living in the US that that he had painted an unduly positive picture of Jewish life in Iran, according to the Jewish Journal (with thanks: Albert).

"Frank Nikbakht, an Iranian Jewish activist and local expert on the treatment of minorities in Iran, claims Motamed's statements about Jewish life in Iran lack credibility. Motamed "has officially sworn to uphold the interests of Islam and the Islamic Republic upon entering the Islamic Assembly as the Jewish representative, as required by the government's constitution," Nikbakht said.

"Nikbakht questioned Motamed's allegiances based on a 24-page Persian-language report authored and distributed by Motamed at an event held at the Nessah Cultural Center during a visit to Los Angeles in 2002. In the report, Motamed outlined his activities as a member of the Energy Committee in the Iranian Parliament as well as his travels to Russia, where he urged Russian companies and officials to complete Iran's nuclear reactor at the Bushehr location.

"IAJF (Iranian American Jewish Federation) leaders defended Motamed's current visit as well as his efforts to protect Jews living under Iran's fundamentalist regime.

"He is in a very sensitive position and is walking a tight rope in trying to keep our community there safe and sound," said Solomon Rastegar, vice-chair of the IAJF. "There are people here in Los Angeles with insufficient knowledge about life in Iran who try to attack him so they can gain credible for themselves."

"Some local Iranian Jewish activists have been had odds with IAJF leaders who have long advocated keeping criticism of Teheran's regime to a minimum for fear of retributions that might be brought against the roughly 20,000 Jews still living in Iran.

Read article in full

Article in the Jewish Forward