Israel’s chief rabbi, Israel Lau, has been leading an international campaign for the release of 13 Jews arrested for spying in Iran. The case of the 13 Iranian Jews came to light last month when Tehran announced that they are to be tried after an intensive four-month investigation.
On June 13, he asked Jesse Jackson, the black American preacher, and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader, to prevent the 13 Jews from being put on trial. In a June 20 letter to Kazakh president Nursultan Nazabayev, he wrote: “Mr President, we know that you have much influence on Iranian leaders and we are well aware of your personal friendship with president Khatami and Iranian religious leaders... All the rabbis in the world and leaders of all religions join me in this appeal to you to urgently and with much sensitivity carry out this humanitarian gesture of life-saving.”
Echoing Tel Aviv’s official line, Lau told Nazarbayev that “I checked with the appropriate bodies in charge of security in Israel and I can put my hand on my heart and vow, Mr. President, that none of the 13 bear any guilt whatsoever.” This means nothing of course; the first rule of western intelligence, followed by the CIA, MI5 and all other spy agencies, is to deny involvement when their operatives are caught.
In the US, meanwhile, the campaign has been taken up by ‘the Reverend’ Jesse Jackson, who has been making the rounds of synagogues in New York, shedding tears for his “Jewish brothers.” Jackson is an opportunist. In 1984, when he denounced Jewish influence in US politics by calling New York “hymie town”, he was black-listed and made to eat humble pie.
Other pro-Zionists have also taken up the call. On June 18, A M Rosenthal, a well-known zionist columnist, bitterly attacked Iran’s judicial system in his opinion piece in the New York Times. He also lamented the lack of interest in the case among world leaders. This has since been remedied by France’s foreign minister Herbert Vedrine, who said on June 19 that the arrests were ‘intolerable’. Iran replied firmly that it would not permit such outrageous interference in its internal affairs.
Jews in Iran, like Christians and other religious minorities, enjoy extensive rights and privileges enshrined in the Constitution, including representation in the Parliament. For the Zionists to give the affair a religious twist is scandalous. In a press release on June 13, Iran’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York pointed out that “Those arrested include both Muslims and Jews and their arrests followed an extensive undercover operation.” Jewish leaders in Iran condemned “the recent hype... whose aim is nothing but to pursue a policy of enmity and hostility towards the Islamic Republic of Iran and its people.”
The facts of the matter are relatively prosaic. A number of people, including both Muslims and Jews, were arrested for espionage in Shiraz and Isfahan early this year, after extensive investigations by the authorities. Proper warrants were issued through the judicial authorities. Investigations are continuing pending their trial.
Ayatullah Yazdi, the head of Iran’s judicial system, was clear in his Friday khutbah on June 11, saying that the normal judicial procedures would be followed without regard to international interference. The verdicts would be reached according the evidence presented before the courts, and appropriate sentences passed if necessary. He also reminded people of Amnesty International’s recent report on human rights violations in US jails, saying that the west should clean its own act up before preaching to others about human rights.
In trying to turn a spying case into one of religious persecution, the Zionists are busy obcuring the real issue. Jews in other countries do spy for Israel as Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad agent, confirms in his 1990 book, By Way of Deception. The case of Jonathan Pollard, the Jewish American naval analyst working for the Pentagon, who for years passed the most sensitive US secrets to Israel, merits consideration. He was linked directly to the office of the Israeli prime minister. When Pollard was caught in 1985, Tel Aviv flatly denied any knowledge. Later, after his conviction, Israel admitted that Pollard had worked for them, and launched a campaign to secure his release. Last October, then Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, delayed signing the Wye agreement for several hours demanding Pollard’s release.
America is Israel’s principal backer and financier. It gives more than US$6 billion in direct aid each year, and perhaps $3-$4 billion through American Jewish organisations. Even with such massive handouts and virtually limitless access to US intelligence information, technology and military hardware, Israel feels no compunction in spying on its benefactor. If Israel bites the hand that feeds it, why would it refrain from spying on Iran, which it has publicly declared its enemy number one?
Moreover, even as the Zionists make such a drama Israel is holding scores of innocent Lebanese as hostages. These people, among them Shaikh Abdul Karim Obaid and Mustafa al-Dirani, were kidnapped from their homes in South Lebanon, and have been held for years without even the pretence of any legal process. If the Zionists really care for justice, let them first release these innocent people.
Muslimedia: July 1-15, 1999