iran 2018 – 2014

cropped-delinquent-book-title-e1355336242477-300x285The chronology on this page will be regularly updatedBelow: map of protest areas

comments, links and various photos have now (9/8/18) been moved to the bottom of this page

a chronology of events both recent and not so recent

I wrote the paragraph below about Tunisia on January 9th, before the dominant English-language media started reporting it:

Iran effect? – On 8th and 9th January, riots against high prices & increased taxes spread across Tunisia, involving around 28 different areas; so far, like in Iraqi Kurdistan, the mainstream media has remained silent about it (for details see News of Opposition).  Of course it’s hard to know whether this is partly due to Iran, but it’s very likely – overcoming fear with fury is contagious and proletarians historically have always been influenced and encouraged by revolts in different parts of the world to confront their own specific miseries.


Iran, Tehran: 3rd day of clashes between state and students following bus crash in which 10 students were killed    Students have protested over the aging transport fleet and lack of accountability from the authorities. A video on Twitter showed students at a campus in Tehran chanting slogans and demanding the resignation of the chairman of the university’s board of trustees, Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In recent months, Iran has experienced demonstrations in different cities as factory workers, teachers, truck drivers and farmers protested against economic hardship and corruption.” More here


Iran: report on truckdrivers strikeultra-leftist report on strikes over the last month or so


Iran, Ahvaz: striking steel workers arrested (see entry for 4/12/18)


Iran: report on various strikes and protests   …workers at the Iran National Steel Industrial Group (INSIG) continued their strike for the 24th consecutive day under the banner of “Humiliation, Never!”, the Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers reported on it its Telegram account…. INSIG workers held an assembly protest on December 11 outside the National Bank office in Ahvaz, the capital of oil-rich Khuzestan Province, while workers rallied in support outside the Iranian Parliament in Tehran….Teachers across Iran, supported by university students, have also held sit-in protests, calling for better pay and free, quality education….Students at universities have rallied in support of the teachers and workers across the country. A support assembly at Amir Kabir University in Tehran was violently disrupted after so-called Basij students stormed the gathering. The Basij is a volunteer paramilitary militia established in Iran in 1979 by order of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.


Iran: students protest in solidarity with striking workers and jailed students & teachers


Shush: report on workers’ demo at sugar plant Haft Tappeh workers have been on intermittent strikes and protests for almost a year, for the mismanagement of their privatized complex, which has resulted in late payment of wages and lack of production by the factory. The workers demand an end to the private ownership and either a takeover by workers or a combination of ownership in which they can have a voice in running the business.The once profitable complex was privatized in dubious circumstances a few years earlier and its current owner appears to be on the run from the authorities for non-payment of dollar denominated loans from government banks.


Report on repression of peaceful teachers’ sit-ins (more information here, from the political opportunists of NICRA)


On the issuing of death penalty against 17 striking truckdrivers


Report on truckdrivers strike


Iran: report on burning down of seminaries (no specific dates given)  At the beginning of the demonstrations, a Hawza (seminary for training clerics) was attacked and burned in the city of Turkestan in the province of Qazvin in northwestern Iran….The incident was then seen as an unintentional act of anger, but the same thing happened few days later when hundreds of protesters tried to enter and burn a Hawza in the Karaj area near the capital Tehran. It would be understandable if people attack state institutions which they complain of their policies considering they are a direct party in the crisis. However, attacking the person of the Supreme Leader and religious schools is a return to the root of the problem which Iranian youths understand well, and which is that the revolution had created an aura of righteousness around the person of the Supreme Leader and had placed him above any accountability or reproach and allowed clergymen to seize power.”


Iran, Tehran: football fans clashing with cops shout anti-government slogans “Reports from Iran indicate an “intense clash” between security forces and angry fans attending a football match in Tehran on Friday….almost everyone in the stadium was chanting opposition slogans. …”The situation at the stadium is extremely volatile, you can hear loud slogans and horns and TV viewers are watching the match without sound, so they cannot realize what is going on at the stadium. This started after radical slogans were chanted from both sides and the state TV cut off audio broadcast, so the video coverage of the match continued in silence.”…Angry fans clashed with the police and broke stadium seats and some window panes at the ticket office and attempted to cross the barriers to reach the additional platforms allocated to Esteghlal fans. A Mehr news agency report titled “Serious clashes between Tractor fans and the police,” says Tractor fans clashed with Police because far less seats were allocated to them. According to Mehr, as the violence spread, the two teams’ supporters threw seats at each other while also throwing bottles and stones into the court. One day before this match, several fans and policemen were wounded in clashes at a stadium in Ahwaz while Khouzstan’s Esteghlal was facing Tehran’s Persepolis team. Reports say that some 10,000 security forces were called in to control the situation.”


Iran, Karaj: 500 attack religious brainwashing factory-school At 9 pm (1530 GMT on Friday) they attacked the school and tried to break the doors down and burn things…They were about 500 people and they chanted against the system but they were dispersed by the riot police and some have been arrested…These people came with rocks and broke the sign and all the windows of the prayer house and they were chanting against the system.” According to someone I know about a dozen mosques have been torched.


Iran: clashes with state on 3rd consecutive day as protests spread over  high cost of living and inflation More here …demonstrators chanting slogans against the dictatorship, clerical rule, and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei…. also called for the release of political prisoners. Reports from Iran on August 2 said protests in Isfahan continued for the third day, while the unrest had spread to other major cities…In Shahinshahr, near Isfahan, women were demonstrating against economic hardships and compulsory hijab, and called on Iranians in other cities to support them. In Karaj, a densely populated city near Tehran, demonstrators gathered around the notorious Rajaishahr Prison, where political prisoners are kept next to criminals, chanting slogans about the people’s will to open the gates of the prison and free political prisoners. Later reports said police had dispersed demonstrators and were guarding the prison. Elsewhere in Karaj, demonstrators attacked the IRGC-linked militia dispatched to suppress demonstrations and set fire to a militiaman’s motorbike.” And here “…protests took place on Thursday in the capital, Tehran, and nine other cities: Ahvaz, Hamedan, Isfahan, Karaj, Kermanshah, Mashhad, Shiraz, Urmia and Varamin…On Tehran’s Valiasr Street, a main thoroughfare bisecting the capital’s eastern and western sectors, protesters set a large container on fire and chanted: “Mullahs, get lost.”…a video clip showed protesters in Karaj, on Tehran’s western outskirts, apparently throwing small objects toward security forces, as a man shouted that protesters were under attack…. security forces in some areas used social media to find out where protests were being planned and then deployed to those locations ahead of time as a way of deterring demonstrators from showing up.” And here In videos circulated on social media and purporting to have been taken in the town of Gohardasht, a suburb of Karaj, dozens of demonstrators can be seen in the streets, setting fire to police vehicles and shouting “death to the dictator.” Police respond with tear gas….Earlier, Iranian protesters had clashed with police outside parliament as the plunging rial triggered three days of protests last month in Tehran.”


Iran, Tehran: barricades and clashes as demos against inflation etc. spread


Iran, Tabriz: railway workers occupy railway building Maintenance workers in Azerbaijan province, who have not been paid since April, refused to start work on Thursday, having stayed in the railway’s offices overnight. They continued their protest yesterday against non-payment of wages, the lowering of the skill index rating for their work and a lack of effective mechanisms to respond to their workplace concerns and demands.”


Iran, Abadan: 2nd night of clashes over water scarcity …protesters threw stones and debris at police and set a car on fire in a protest that began late Sunday in the city of Abadan. The report says police blocked roads near the protest and that the situation is “under control.” Similar clashes over water scarcity broke out in the nearby city of Khorramshahr late Saturday. …Abadan is home to Iran’s biggest oil refinery. The two cities are in the oil-rich Khuzestan province, which borders Iraq and is home to a large Arab community”…More hereReports and video posted on social media indicated rallies elsewhere in Khuzestan Province, including in the provincial capital, Ahvaz. In Mahshahr, local media reported that demonstrators took to the streets to express support for the residents of nearby Khorramshahr who have been protesting shortages of drinking water over the past days….State television showed banks with broken windows, and reported in the afternoon of July 1 that “peace had returned” to the city….”In Khuzestan we have oil, water, petrochemical [industry], steel, ports, agriculture, date palms, and a common border with Iraq, but people do not benefit from these blessings and all they get is pollution and rivers that have dried,” Kazem Nasab told the semiofficial news agency ISNA on July 2….The latest protests in southwestern Iran came after three days of demonstrations in Tehran starting from June 24 over the country’s troubled economy. The rallies included protesters confronting police outside parliament and officers firing tear gas at the demonstrators. They also led to the temporary closure of the city’s Grand Bazaar, where shopkeepers denounced a sharp fall in the value of the national currency, the rial.”


Iran, Khorramshahr: heavy clashes between state and protesters against water shortagesThis reports solidarity demos in 5 towns…More hereThis says crowds have armed themselves with captured assault riflesthough this says just one rifle with a few bullets was capturedand this says 4 were killed


Iran, Tehran: 3rd day of angry protests (see entry for 24/6) Demonstrators had taken to the streets of Tehran on Tuesday for the third day to protest against the country’s deteriorating economy and sharp fall in the value of the national currency. Online videos showed demonstrators again confronting police on Tehran’s streets and alleyways. Similar confrontations had taken place on Monday where police fired tear gas at protesters near the parliament building. Video footage posted on social media Tuesday showed protesters setting fire to garbage dumpsters in Tehran streets to block riot police from attacking them. Other videos showed riot police breaking windows of closed shops and striking parked motorcycles with batons. The police has accused protesters in recent days of causing damage to public property. Metro stations near the bazaar were closed for hours as the result of protests, state media reported. Pictures also showed shopkeepers were on strike in other cities including Arak, Shiraz, Tabriz and Kermanshah. The protesters chanted anti-government slogans in various commercial centers in the capital”


Iran, Tehran: large spontaneous demos against fall in value of rialmore here The Iranian rial has lost nearly 50% of its value in six months … Traditionally conservative, the mighty “bazaar”, as the traders are known in Iran, backed the Islamic revolution of 1979, but has used its influence several times since then to push back political plans that it considered going against his interests….In the covered streets of the Grand Bazaar near the Place aux Herbes (Meidoun-e Sabzeh), there is no open shop. Passersby walk along a succession of closed metal curtains. “It’s like that in the whole bazaar,” says a 45-year-old carpet merchant who grew up in the family shop before taking it back, “it’s the first time in my life I’ve seen this.” “The riot police intervened in the morning” against a bazaar demonstration, “arrested two men and calm returned.


Iran, Babol: villagers block roads in protest against road insecurity causing high accident rate Also has reports on 10th day of truckers strike and steelworkers’ strike


Iran, Tehran: workers at Tehran Terminal Barracks strike in solidarity with nationwide truckdrivers’ strike now in its 7th day In solidarity with the strike of truck drivers in 257 cities, on Monday, Tehran Terminal Barracks workers and staffs joined the truck drivers strike with slogans.: Do not be afraid, Do not be afraid, We are all together; They have called on marketers and businessmen in Tehran to join the strike as well. The clerical regime in fear of a united and powerful nationwide truckers strike in Sanandaj sent in a hurry his special forces to the gathering of protesters. In the city of Kangavar (in the province of Kermanshah), also the clerical regime has sent its agents and has deceived truck drivers that the strike is over. But vigilant drivers did not believe in the deception of the regime and continued their strike. Following the drivers and truckers strike, there were long lines at gas stations in the city of Sardasht (West Azarbaijan province). The regime’s governor in the city called for people’s calm in a statement in panic about the formation of protests and falsely declared that there is no gas shortage in fuel stations. Also on the sixth day of truckers strike, oil tankers from the Sanandaj Oil Company (West Iran) expanded their empty food spread to protest lack of their livelihood. The clerical regime sent its law enforcement officers to the site, in fear of spreading this move to general public. The drivers of oil tankers in Kerman also stopped working. Following the strike of truckers, fresh vegetable whole seller market in Kerman was closed as well. Iranian drivers in Georgia, in a symbolic act, in solidarity with the striking of Iranian truckers also refused to load their trucks.” See also entries for 27/5 & 26/5/18.


Iran: truckdrivers’ strike continues In spite of the repressive measures, the freight terminals in various cities remain half-closed. Striking drivers refuse to load and are lining up their trucks along the roads. … In Ardabil, truckers prevented passage of loaded vehicles….In solidarity with striking truck drivers, taxi drivers and taxi owners in Tehran, protested against low fares and expensive spare parts on Sunday. In the city of Yazd, minibus owners gathered outside the city’s municipality to protest high costs of spare parts, and to express solidarity with striking truckers.”



Iran: report on 5th day of nationwide truckdrivers’ strike “…the truckers are protesting high commissions charged by transport companies, highly expensive road tolls and government’s recent decision to stop paying them social insurance subsidies. Truck drivers are also unhappy for being forced to install tracker devices on their vehicles and pay for the related expenses, while “only security forces, intelligence agents and the National Oil Company benefit from them”. There are three types of truckers in Iran; those who fully own their vehicles and others who still have to pay for their trucks to government-controlled companies in installments for years. Still others, a minority, work for truck owners. Most of the time, truck drivers find themselves working for the government, the biggest importer and distributor of strategic commodities, particularly fuel and foodstuff, based on a daily wage, or fee per kilometer.”


Iran, Kazerun: people killed as demonstrators burn police station and chant “subversive slogans” during protest against plans to divide city in two More here here, and here Despite pleas from provincial officials and the Friday Prayers Leader, and in apparent defiance of an increased police presence on the streets, on Friday April 20, demonstrators unexpectedly occupied the site for the city’s Friday Prayers. They chanted in protest against prayer leader Mohammad Khorsand and called for his resignation. They also chanted political slogans against the government, the Islamic Republic and their representative to the parliament. The protests caught the attention of the media and social networking sites because some of the protesters’ chants were very similar to those used in the demonstrations that spread across the country in early January 2018 — suggesting a deeper, more widespread malaise. Some people shouted: “Our enemy is right here; liars say it is America,” but there were other, more shocking slogans too, including “Be afraid when we get guns” and “We will kill the traitors.” This readiness for violent confrontation is new, and had not been a feature of earlier rallies.”


Iran, Arak: workers block railway in protest over unpaid wages and lousy conditions


Iran: workers defy state ban on marches reports on anti-government mayday demos in at least 8 towns & cities “They chanted: “Arrested workers should be freed,” “Bread, housing, freedom, are our inalienable rights,” “Astronomical wages (for senior officials), public misery”, “Worker, teacher, student, solidarity, solidarity.” Placards carried by the workers read: “Our dinner table is still empty”. One of the workers carried a large placard which read: “Hey, You, billionaire minister, I haven’t been able to buy meat for the past 40 months”. The security forces attacked this protest rally and arrested a number of protesters. The identity of seven of those arrested has been ascertained so far. At the same time a large crowd marched towards the regime’s “Worker’s House” and protested in front of it. They were chanting: “Death to oppressor, hail to the workers….”report on growing public opposition towards Iran’s involvement in Syrian war See also this


Iran, Marivan: houses of 2 of the states’ counter-“revolutionary” guards torched after they murder a local villager The clash took place when Pasdar-Colonel (IRGC colonel) Kaveh Kohneh-Poushi along with another Pasdar, Latif Nikpay, murdered an inhabitant from one of the villages of Marivan. The people burnt down the houses of the two criminals in protest of this crime. The anti-riot unit started attacking and beating these people in support of the two criminals. The clashes, which lasted for hours, continued up to the Bu’ali Hospital in Marivan. …In Baneh and Javanrood, the strike of the merchants and shopkeepers continued for the eleventh day. The intelligence agents arrested a protesting woman who was calling on people in the Baneh main street to continue the strike, and transferred her to a police station. The people of Baneh, having gathered outside the police station, forced the mercenaries to release her. …The poor farmers in the east of Isfahan continued their protests by staging a sit-in in front of the governorate building….” This report continues, providing interesting information which the racket behind this site would suppress themselves if they ever achieved any similar position to the scumbags presently in power, because this opportunist gang would obviously be forced to be as brutal in the unlikely event of assuming control of Iran’s specific capitalist interests.


Iran, Kazerun: “Beware of the day when we arm ourselves” chanted on 5th day of anti-government protests (video) See entry for 19/4/18


Iran, Kazerun: heavily armed riot cops surround demo on 4th day of protests against state plans to divide city

Iran, Isfahan: cops crack down on 5th consecutive day of illegal protests against water shortages following day on which large amounts of women joined demonstrations “The protest movement expanded on Friday, with conservative women from area farms seen marching in Isfahan for the first time in a social media video identified as having been filmed that day. The Iranian government’s Shi’ite prayer leader in Isfahan, Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabaye-nejad, lost patience with the protesters on Friday, accusing them of seeking to cause “riots and sedition.”


Iran: list of mainy proletarian protests going on over last 2 days  (from a repulsive pro-Western “demockracy” site, which nevertheless has interesting information, even if published for utterly opportunist reasons)


Iran: list of mainy proletarian protests going on over last 2 days  (from a repulsive pro-Western “demockracy” site, which nevertheless has interesting information, even if published for utterly opportunist reasons)


Iran, Tabriz: clashes with state during annual fire festival, now banned (video)

Iran fire festival


Iran, Haft Tapeh (Khûzistân): management flee their building after workers smash windows in conflict over unpaid wages



Iran, Tehran: 3 cops killed by bus during whirling clashes with Sufis (later reports say 5 insecurity forces killed). The Sufis, constantly repressed by the ascetic orthodox Muslim state, are the reformist wing of Islam – explicitly in favour of alcohol and pleasure. According to this, “More people are joining protesters and security forces were defeated by the protesters last night. However, dozens of protesters were arrested and their location is unknown.” Undoubtedly most of this is hardly “independent” (since the Dervishes themselves were demanding the release of their official leader), but some of it almost certainly is.


Iran: posters of Khamenei, the Supreme Religious Leader, set on fire



Iran: Basij (morality cops) motorbikes destroyed during attempt to arrest Sufi leader


Iran: large protests in 6 towns & cities “…Sanandaj (west): people gathered in Enghelab (revolution) Square, and Azadi (freedom) square and chanted “death to dictator.” They clashed with State Security Force (SSF) and set an SSF kiosk on fire. Authorities tried to disrupt the Internet connection in city. Clashes have continued, and the regime has brought in water cannons to disperse the crowd… Kermanshah (west): Protest erupted at Freedom square, with chants of “death to Khamenei”, “death to dictator.” A woman started the protest. “Death to Khamenei” was chanted non-stop. Plain clothed security forces have begun arresting protesters. Anti-riot forces arrested 7 protesters, but people charged at them, and the anti-riot forces retreated and released the protesters. Several protesters were arrested.”


Hijab protests continue29 women arrested


Slavery, Iran-style (obnoxious pro-US/Trump site, which, despite this, has some interesting facts)


Former intelligence minister admits his house was attacked during uprising


Dezful: despite the movement being officially “over” protester is killed


Iran: report saying about 3,700 people have been arrested during protests


Tehran: 100s demonstrate against detentions in front of prison More here and here

Paulo Coehlo tweets against riots Whilst he’s obviously right to attack all those who’d want the return of the Shah and the Savak torturers, he’s an idiot if he thinks the mullahs are any better.


Sistan & Baluchestan province: elementary school children chanting against Khamenei & Rouhanisimilarly in Ahvaz


Karaj: more clashes (video) … and another here

Report here, which, though containing nothing I object to,  adds little to discussion of the situation that’s not been said elsewhere, apart from this: “None of the Green Movement supporters — who are mostly from the educated middle class — have come out in support of the protests, because they see more of a future in Rouhani’s policies than any other alternative, even if they are unhappy with the regime,” says Ghaemi. “The protests have a clear class dimension. They are coming from a segment of young people who feel they have nothing left to lose.”


Tabriz: despite crackdown, massive anti-regime chants in football stadium (video) More here Local sources in Tabriz said that roads leading to the province have been blocked with police checkpoints. Amid social media calls for anti-regime protests in Tabriz, security forces are inspecting buses and interrogating match goers, local sources added. Pictures are being shared on social media of security forces kicking people out of buses and telling them to go home.” More details hereKermanshah: youths clash with insecurity forcesTehran: more anti-government protests despite propaganda that it’s all overAccording to this The Iranian government is forcing schools to take to the streets and stage a pro-Regime protest. These protests are led by ideologues. It has been reported, however, that children accidentally chant ” Death to Basij”…” Apparently, all those who work for the state are being threatened with losing their jobs if they don’t attend pro-government rallies, along with their families.

Statement by bus workers’ syndicate of Tehran & sugarcane workers’ syndicate of Haft Tapeh supporting movement


Iran, Asaluyeh: oil refinery workers go on strike“…three days ago on Monday January 1, 2018 , in line with the nationwide protests against Iranian regime, the headquarter of the people’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) had called for strike in the oil industry in addition to military and ammunition production industries as a necessary and vital step to cripple the Iranian regime. Last month, More than 1,000 workers added their names to a petition to the public broadcaster, calling on the organization to send an investigative team to report on terrible working conditions and unpaid wages. The petition was organized by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran (UMMI), and addressed to Seyyed Mehdi, director of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation. The petition is significant, because independent union activists are severely persecuted in Iran, and it is rare for workers to publicly identify themselves as union supporters. The workers of the South Pars Oil and Gas fields and the refineries of Bandar Abbas and Bushehr in Southern Iran submitted the petition because they face unbearable conditions. The oil and gas industry is controlled by the Ministry of Petroleum through the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company, the world’s second biggest oil company….” deaths reported as clashes with state continue in Sanandaj, and dozens of other citiesTehran: sit-in at prison by families of those arrested Tonight … lots of armed forces were called in to mop up 70 to 80 relatives who were sitting in protest against the detention of their children. They told us we should leave or we will all be arrested. We said we are all ready to join our kids inside the prison. We will not go anywhere until we get some news about our kids. All we know is that they are on hunger strike. We are holding a peaceful sit-in to say we want our innocent children released,” she said. “We know they are being held in Evin Prison but four days after their detention we still don’t know what kind of situation they are in.”


Iran: state-sponsored counter-demosas clashes continue in several cities “…in addition to Tehran, various cities of the country kept the flames of the uprising aflame. In Zahedan’s Shirabad district skirmishes between the people and anti-riot forces occured. The mercenaries are firing on people and people are confronting with stones. In Ahvaz, the Basijis have come to the scene with police uniforms. The Basijis motorcyclists are moving with a lot of noise. The mercenaries rotate their weapons to exacerbate their intimidation atmosphere. The brave youth of the Shadegan region (Ahvaz) are confronting the attacks of anti-riot guards with throwing stones. In Bandar Abbas, the slogan of death to Khamenei, death to the dictator resonates everywhere. In Dezful, the brave protesters shout Seyyed Ali shame on you, Let go the country, and clashes in the Sabzeh Ghaba neighborhood broke out. In Malayer, a rumbling of the slogan of the nation begs, Ayatollah Khamenei acts like the Lord, has filled the atmosphere of the city. In Isfahan, skirmishes broke out between the people who were chanting Seyyed Ali shame on you, leave your reign, and the riot forces. The anti-riot police officers shot directly at the people. In Ghourtan in Isfahan clashes broke out and the sound of blast is heard from the conflict zone. Some law enforcement officers fled during a clash with the demonstrators in Joughabad, Isfahan. In Kermanshah, some police officers escaped the brave youth. A large crowd rallied on the street of Farmandary in Torbat Heydariyeh. People chanted slogans against the anti-riot forces: Do not be afraid, do not be afraid. We are all together. Leave Syria Think about us.”
SF Note: Shirabad and other Zahedan settlements have a population of several hundred thousand and contain one of the largest and most deprived marginalized poor in the country…. 3 police and security forces killed in PiranshahrTwitter thread mentioning burning of  Basij (Islamic Revolutionary Guard) certificates by Basij members 

This twitter feed also mentions people barricading the path to a prison.


Iran, Qahderijan: police station attacked & torched (video)6 protesters killed there…More here A young member of the Revolutionary Guards and a passer-by were also reported dead in towns near the cultural hub of Isfahan city, while TV had earlier confirmed the death of a policeman in nearby Najafabad, shot dead with a hunting rifle. That brings the estimated death toll to 21 in five days of unrest that represent the biggest challenge to the Islamic regime since mass demonstrations in 2009….The young are most affected, with as many as 40 percent out of work according to analysts, and rural areas particularly hard-hit.” And here “In the western city of Kermanshah, protesters set fire to a traffic police post”…More here “In Rasht, protesters throw hand grenades to the Basijis in the alleyways leading to the Sabzeh Maidan….In Tabriz, scores of Revolutionary Guards, Bassij militias, and anti-riot guards, packed on the central streets of the city including the Clock Square, were deployed. Confrontation broke out between the courageous people and mercenaries, and the people defend themselves with hand grenades…In Behbahan, courageous youth burned down the seminary of the mullahs as a sign of disgust from the corrupt and criminal mullahs…”claim that over 70 towns & cities involved in protests (largely uninteresting interview with Marxist-Leninist)


Iran, Najafabad: cop killed, and 3 others wounded, by gunfire; attacks on police stations and military bases reportedcall for a General Strike By calling for a strike, the protesters may be trying to link up with the country’s national labour movement, which did not happen during the so-called Green Revolution of 2009, when workers largely refused to participate in marches and demonstrations. Holly Dagres, an Iranian-American analyst warned that a leaderless movement presents risks for the authorities too. “[It] can be problematic for the Iranian government because it’s really hard to point fingers at who to blame, which is what they did during the 2009 post-election protests known as the Green Movement,” she said. “They blamed the Green Movement leaders and eventually in 2011 put them under house arrest. At the same time, a leaderless movement provides an opportunity for President Rouhani to step in and address the grievances. “It also presents an opportunity for someone to manipulate [the protests] for their own agenda. We’re already seeing that happening with opposition groups outside of Iran like the monarchists and Mujahideen Al Khalq and the National Council of Resistance of Iran. They are using the protests as an excuse to push for regime change in Iran.” More here “Unemployment in the wider economy is above 12 percent, and double that among young people…. eggs now twice as expensive as a year ago. In addition, his policy of cutting state handouts offered by his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has left households more exposed to price volatility. … “We’ve had enough of life without jobs, life without money,” …Some of the cities that have widespread protests are among the poorest cities in Iran.”



4th day – protesters take down banner of Supreme Leader (a capital offence) (video)…

Rasht: “Death to Revolutionary Guards!” chanted

Arak: police centre attacked; cop car overturned; protesters set fire to local HQ of Basij militia; governor’s compound occupied

Mashhad: cop motorbikes burnt

Isfahan (Shahin Shahr): Basij (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) vehicles torched

Basij HQ attacked

Several Officers have surrendered and joined the protesters”

“Reformists, hardliners, your time is up” “Many… Iranians see the reformists in the same camp as the hardliners who give them false hope to keep quiet”…”The so called reformists and the hard liners are the two cheeks of the same arse.”

Iranian flag burnt (video)...More here “The head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, a hardline cleric, said: “Attacking mosques, public buildings, banks, is unacceptable.”

Kermanshah: Basij guard has his trousers taken off him

Tuyserkan: government vehicle burnt in front of governorate

Instagram & Telegram blocked ” Relatively fewer chants were heard in support of two opposition leaders under house arrest, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. …Some videos showed protesters apparently setting bins on fire and trying to break into government buildings….Ali Vaez, Iran project director at International Crisis Group…said: “Given its lack of leadership, organisation and mission, it is likely to peter out or will be quelled.
This latter comment is obviously bollocks, the wishful thinking of those who would like to impose leadership and organisation on this movement. Which is not to say that its lack of an explicit radical perspective, like that of almost all social movements over the last few years, is not problematic – but that’s down to the despair of the current epoch which has long repressed  a significantly effective revolutionary critique which could encourage and clarify those desperately opposing the specific forms the forces of the world market and the state take in different parts of the world.

Apparently in Dorud 10 people have been killed by state forces working undercover (not confirmed). Should be pointed out that in the 1979 uprising against the Shah there were times when 40 people a day were being killed. See, for example, Ryszard Kapuściński’s “Shah of Shahs”. Also worth pointing out that, despite the dominant, and as we all know all too well, ultimately victorious, Islamic ideology of the 1979 revolution (backed principally by the French bourgeoisie), there were some experiments in workers councils in factories and oil refineries at that time: see this and this.


Iran: protests spread to other areas such as Kermanshah, Isfahan & Shahre-Kord, as students in Tehran clash with cops Video here & here. Twitter here mentions … crowds… attacking police, governor, government outposts.” This mentions governor’s building in Arak city being stormed, and the internet being cut. This says that protestors now control the radio and TVbuilding, and the prison, in Arak. Again, hard to know what this means – which protesters? what are they doing with the prison?

Tehran, 30/12/17


Iran: 2nd day of protests against high food prices in several cities “When we don’t have bread to eat, we are not afraid of anything… we cannot feed our families with silence.”More here and  hereThis twitter thread mentions women taking off their hijab (mandatory in Iran).

Also mentions  an attack on government offices in Hamedan, with protesters chanting: “Death to the Islamic Republic”, “We don’t want Islamic Republic”  and similarly in Qom, where they also chanted   “Death to Hezbollah” and Ghavzin where “Mullahs must get lost” was shouted and in Shiraz anti-Hezbollah slogans were also chanted as well as posters of leading military and Revolutionary Guards being torn down; and widespread collective and successful resistance to arrests. This twitter feed also mentions that in some places Revolutionary Guards are “coming over to the people”, whatever that means. In fact, a dangerous illusion even if true: whilst some sections of the military and cops may well support an uprising, unless this leads to a general arming of the masses of individuals, and the destruction of the monopoly of arms in the state’s hands, it will turn out like a variant of  Egypt following the Arab Spring (or, several other examples of situations where the military could no longer support the previous heads of state, but went on to support new heads of state which crushed all forms of opposition). As always, obnoxious “oppositional” politicians supported by the US or other blocks are hovering like vultures waiting to swoop down and consume this movement.

However, sections of the forces of disorder will invariably come over to the side of social movements as happened to a certain extent on September 23rd when  cops were arrested for not beating up workers protesting unpaid salaries.


Iran: demonstrations in 4 cities against regime The residents of Mashhad were protesting against the rising cost of living. There were angry chants of “Death to the Dictator” and “Death to Rouhani.” The demonstrators also chanted “Forget about Syria, think about us”, “don’t be scared, we are all together.” Similar protests were held in cities of Neyshabur and Shahroud. In Mashhad, repressive state security forces attacked protesters.” This mentions Yazd as another city experiencing protests.


Iran, Ilam: heavy clashes between cops & villagers as state steals large areas of land


Iran:  refinery workers go on strike &  warn that they’ll destroy refinery Unfortunately, during the first six months of this year, the situation has been catastrophic for the poor strata of the society, which, like most non-oil companies and factories, most of the oil section force have received only one-and-a-half percent of their salaries in the past six months. Given the hardship and life-threatening dangers of this type of activity in the southern regions, with unbearable heat and sultry weather in the outskirts of the city, in a closed camp environment with very limited facilities, is our share of daily oil and gas production one month salary for every six months of work? …Most companies of the Refinery have closed down or half-closed due to the lack of funding.” “We, the workers of the Persian Gulf Star Oil Refinery, announce that in order to end the situation and endure this horrible summer without a salary, we will continue our protests peacefully only a week before October 5, and if our objections are not fulfilled, with apology to the honorable nation of Iran, we will break down and destroy the sites in the refinery.””


Iran, Arak: CEO of strike-torn industry arrested It seems likely that his arrest was designed to end the workers’ strike, placate the protesters, and perhaps even punish him for causing the protest by not paying the workers. …After Azarab workers held a protest assembly and its subsequent unpleasant events, Azarab’s officials settled 18 million rials (roughly $536) wages of each worker; whereas they could have done that before the outbreak of protests.”


Iran, Arak: report of cops being arrested for not beating up workers protesting unpaid salaries (see entry for 19/9/17 below).The Iran regime has arrested some police officers…The police officers did not follow the order to beat the workers as they said, “We will not beat our countrymen with baton.”… On Wednesday, September 20, 1800 workers of the Azarab factory in Arak gathered in the factory for the fourth day of their protests, for lack of payment of their salaries and benefits for six months.”


Iran, Arak: state attacks workers from 2 companies as they block main motorway in protest against unpaid salaries More here “…a number of workers of two factories, Azarab and Hepco, staged protest gathering at two different locations in the city of Arak. Workers of Azarab Company closed the main Arak-Tehran road and demanded the authorities pay attention to their protest when the Special Forces attacked them… workers of Hepco Company also blocked Arak’s railway line.”



Iran,  Kurdistan province: roads closed, clashes with state in regional capital as protests against cop killings of cross-border porters spread Despite all the security measures and obstructions, protests were held in Sanandaj. On some streets, there was a chase between the riot force and the protesters, during which a number of young people were arrested. Reports indicate the arrest of at least 11 young protesters by security forces. According to reports, a young man’s arrest in Ferdowsi Street caused chaos in the protest and led to a clash between security forces and protesters. The cities of Kurdistan are tense after the protests in Baneh. The people of Baneh are still in strike. Local sources say that routes to Baneh are closed.”
More here in French Demonstrations and protests continue in many cities in the province of Iranian Kurdistan for the fifth consecutive day. These spontaneous demonstrations broke out after the killings of two Kolbers workers…assassinated by the repressive forces of the totalitarian and fascist Iranian regime, not far from the city of Siné during the day of Monday 4th September 2017.  Kolbers are the Kurdish name given to local precarious workers, porters and freight carriers who operate in the mountainous border regions of Iran-Iraq-Turkey. They are regularly targeted and shot dead or seriously wounded by border guards and the Iranian military under the guise of “combating smuggling” While demonstrations continued yesterday 7th September and today 8th September 2017 in the towns of Baneh and Sineh, militants and activists from the city of Kermanshah called for action yesterday, whilst leaflets also circulated inviting the population of Sine and other towns of Rojhelat to descend into the streets. 10 former Kurdish political prisoners and civil activists who had been arrested and later released for showing solidarity with the people of Rojhelat began yesterday a three-day hunger strike to protest the attacks on the Kolbers.As the anger of the population continues to grow against the genocidal and discriminatory policies of the Iranian regime and its attempts at repression, it has continued to send its police and military forces to the large towns of the Rojhelat in an attempt to intimidate and frighten the Kurdish population.Teheran has deployed a large number of Etelaat agents in “civilian” form … in Baneh, Marivan, Sine, Sardasht, Kermanshah and Sanandaj . In addition,…the regime is also deploying massively its sinister anti-riot units of Motorcyclist Voltigeurs, and units of the Revolutionary Guards of the IRGC in all the strategic places located around the government buildings of the cities quoted above. It should also be noted that the Fatah Police in charge of surveillance of  Iranian cyberspace has succeeded in virtually cutting off all the internet connections of the province, hence the few videos and photos of the protests in progress in the Rojhelat which reach us via social networks. More here in English


Iran, Tehran : 1000s of football fans chant slogans against presence of state’s plain clothes security forces


Iran, Kuzhestan: cops fire birdshot at striking workers


Iran, Khorramabad: depositors ripped off by state affiliated development financial institution block roads, smash windows, chanting “Death to Bazvand [ie the local governor]”


Iran: a look at workers’ opposition over the last year (traditional “reformist” site; e.g. currently – i.e. 6/1/18 – it publishes dreadful opportunist statements coming from Trump’s regime without the slightest comment on their indifference to the vast majority of Iranians)


Iran, Behshar: protesters set fire to state-owned company that had stolen their money


Iran: various expressions of anti-regime anger during the Fire Festivals in different parts of country “… In Tehran… youth threw firecrackers in front of police vehicle that damaged the front part of the vehicle, causing fear of the suppressive forces. In Tehranpars, youth also burned a large portrait of Khomeini and Khamenei. In Mashhad youth threw Molotov cocktails at the headquarters of the repressive Bassij organ at Vakil Abad Boulevard. The youth of Shahr-e Kurd set up fire all across the city, threw Molotov cocktails at police forces and clashed with them. In Isfahan, the sound of explosions can be heard all over the city. In Baneh, people celebrated using grenades and firecrackers and fireworks. Repressive police forces do not get out of their vehicles in fear of the wrath of the youth. …Fire Feast was celebrated while repressive forces had a dense presence with motorized patrols in the streets seeking to intensify the atmosphere of intimidation in the society. During recent days, the state-run media continually broadcast the ridiculous fatwa of Khomeini and his affiliated mullahs on disapprobation of Fire Feast and calling it sinful. Police chief Hossein Ashtary threatened to seriously deal with the aggressors and violators of the people’s rights. Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia said: “In case those who disturb the order cause inconvenience, the police will confront seriously.” (Tasnim, March 14th ).However, the regime’s officials failed to hide the main cause of their fear of this national celebration. Saad, a member of the regime’s parliament said, “The Fire Feast in recent years has turned from a traditional one to a dangerous ceremony.””
More here: “…in the Iranian capital, Tehran, a number of local youth who had gathered on the Air Force Fifth Street to celebrate the annual Festival of Fire of the ancient Iranians clashed with the security police who were out in force to prevent the public to carry out their festivities. The youth used fire crackers, sound bombs, squibs and spitdevils to scare off the suppressive security forces….According to reports from the notorious Gohardasht prison, the suppressive prison warden has, as his usual in every year, prevented the prisoners from going outside their cells to take a breath of fresh air on the eve of the Fire Festival celebrations. The warden fears that the prisoners might light up fire and celebrate the Fire Festival. But the political prisoners defied these suppressive measures and lit fire inside the hallways and jumped over the fire in celebration of Feast of Fire. The prisoners chanted ‘death to the dictators’, and ‘Death to Khamenei.’”

fire festival iranfire festival

“…a good love is one that casts you into the wind, sets you ablaze, makes you burn through the skies and ignite the night like a phoenix; the kind that cuts you loose like a wildfire and you can’t stop running simply because you keep on burning everything that you touch!”         C. JoyBell C.

iran 14 3 17Video here

French version of this here


Iran, Hamadan: fly pitchers clash with authorities


Iran, Ahvaz: illegal demonstration demanding clean air, water and electricity “It is noteworthy that over the past week every day, protests over dust storms, power failures and government mismanagement in one of Iran’s most oil-rich cities have been continuing. Residents of Ahvaz, a city near the border with Iraq, has been protesting for Seven days in increasingly large gatherings, shown in cellphone video clips shared on social media….It is also remarkable that, frightened of these protest rallies expanding, the Iranian regime has dispatched anti-riot and the Revolutionary Guards’ Basij militia groups from neighboring Fars Province to Ahvaz, and meaningfully lowered the internet speeds in Ahvaz to prevent the uploading of any video clips showing people’s demonstrations and protests.”


Iran, Yazd: villagers close road & clash with cops over polluting mining


Iran, Tehran: residents clash with cops during state destruction of their houses and cars


Iran, Teheran: students and workers in separate sit-ins


Iran, Boldaji: several cars burnt, 1 protester killed, in attempts to resist suppression of local water supplylocal court burnt “…at least one person was killed, 30 were injured and 15 were arrested during the clashes. Footage sent by eye-witnesses at the site of the clashes shows the regime’s suppressive forces fleeing as the angry population attack them with wooden sticks and stones.” Video here shows this, at the end, though not very clearly:


Iran, Sardasht: after goods are confiscated,  market sellers and others attack police station, burn cop car, re-take the goods “The merchants and a group of ordinary people attacked the police station to retake the goods in Sardasht. The angry protesters did not pay attention to the aerial firing by the police force.”


Iran, : after security guard  kills young man, protesters against this state murder fire  at cop vehicles who’d been firing at them


Iran: 1000s of miners go on strike in 2 areas (Kuhbanan & Golestan) demanding unpaid wages


Iran (Mashad): protesters occupy state-affiliated rip off company to protest scam


Iran, Tehran: over 500 on hunger strike in new prison


Iran: nurses hold anti-government protests in several cities under threat of the sack


Iran, Baluchistan: main road blocked, police station and police vehicles burned after Revolutionary Guard state forces burn and kill 2 diesel smugglers – town and surrounding villages rise up


Iran, Mahabad: report of Kurds rioting and burning hotel after coverup of death of chambermaid


Iran: cops repress Festival of Fire Iranians, particularly young people across Iran, defied the mullahs’ regime and its extensive security measures, happily celebrating the Feast of Fire, in the evening of the last Wednesday of the Iranian year ending 20th March. In the Iranian capital, portraits of Khomeini generously supplied bonfires in the Valenjak neighborhood and flames in Isfahan greedily devoured the pictures of Khamenei. Young people  jumped over the fire with redoubled enthusiasm. In Shiraz, southern Iran, despite the deployment of security forces in various neighborhoods, sound firecrackers and grenade explosions could be heard throughout the city…In Mashhad, northeast, large explosions reverberated in the areas of Ghasem-Abad Ahmad Abad and Tolab. In Orumieh in the north-west, people and especially youths jumped over bonfires in several streets and cracked firecrackers and sound grenades all over the city. In Zanjan, northwest, joyful explosions of firecrackers continued to resonate, especially in the city center, in the areas of North and South Saadi, Darvazeh Rasht, instead Sabzeh the Chamran Boulevard, the Safa Street. In the belt of Tehran …sound grenades and mortar fireworks made Varamin tremble with joy. The fire festival lit up the small bazaar Bushehr, in southwestern Iran, Bandar-Abbas (south) and Langaroud (north). Finally as joy and celebration are the enemy to be defeated, all the security organs were on red alert. Young people of Mahabad in Kurdistan were ready to do battle. Despite police reinforcements and arrests, most managed to get away from the police .” (short report in English here)

fete du feu iran

Festivals of Fire as Khomeini burns



Iran, Ahwazi: following self-immolation of adolescent, football fans, beaten by cops for wearing traditional Arab dress, molotov cop car


Iran, Yazd: miners on strike against arrests of fellow miners; riot cops deployed

 Comments, links and photos:

(previously at top of page)

Two texts about the situation are worth looking at:

“Iran: Bread. Jobs. Freedom” – interesting radical report & analysis “The bright spot among all the confusion were the students. On the third day, they really shifted the paradigm of the revolt, mostly in Tehran, and it spread in many other parts of the country. They opposed the reactionary slogans with “even women has joined us, but you lazy men are just standing by”, they changed the pro-nationalist slogan of “neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, I will die only for Iran” with a much deeper slogan of “From Gaza to Iran, down with the exploiters”. They also added some class-conscious slogans promoting councils, or encouraging people to move beyond the fake dualism of reformists and fundamentalists.”  This latter comment – “encouraging people to move beyond the fake dualism of reformists and fundamentalists” seems, from my long-distance reading of the situation, not exactly accurate as I’ve seen comments attacking this false dualism outside the student movement in Tehran (here). Also, one wonders how many people shouted or wrote up the more radical slogans, whether it was a significant number or hardly any. Equally, though undoubtedly this will seem like another quibble, to equate “Jobs” with “Freedom” seems rather populist insofar as I doubt those who wrote this text really think this. I want to add that, though the intensification of miserable conditions can lead to normally conservative elements in the population to feel they have nothing to lose by taking to the streets, such misery in itself doesn’t always lead to an uprising; at the same time,  even many of those who have relatively secure living conditions globally are capable of taking risks against the system. I say this to counter the tendency to a complacent determinism – the idea that increasing immiseration leaves the proletariat with no choice but to make a revolution, when  it’s obvious from the people and situations we know that it’s always a question of choice – that nightmarish situations can just as easily lead to a suicidal death-wish or mad homicidal tendencies as to revolt. Such minor nuances apart, this seems to be probably the best English-language article on the situation there so far.

This too has some interesting facts and analysis: Banks are loath to begin financing investments, since they could see those projects fall under sanctions if (or once) Trump pulls the plug on the nuclear deal. The never-ending drama about whether Trump will or will not kill the deal has been designed to achieve exactly this: create uncertainty about the deal’s future in order to deter investors from entering the Iranian market. This absence of investment, in turn, has contributed to growing unemployment and unmet expectations about the direction of the Iranian economy—an underlying cause of these protests. If the nuclear deal and the sabotaged sanctions-relief process created unmet expectations, it was the government’s proposed 2018 budget that left the population seething. The leaked budget proposed slashing subsidies on basic goods, including food and services for the poor, while increasing fuel prices by as much as 50 percent. But while poor people would have to face austerity, opaque religious institutions controlled by conservative political elements would be spared from austerity cuts, as would the IRGC [the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps].”

However, it’s flawed, to say the least (inevitably, given The Nation’s lefty-liberalism and the fact that the author is president of the National Iranian American Council), with comments such as “Iran’s youth want to connect with the outside world and be part of the global community, rather than stand on the outside looking in.”. For one thing, who is this person who claims to speak on behalf of “Iran’s youth”? As if “Iran’s youth” was a singular entity with just one conservative desire which the author is privy to? Also – what is this “global community”? Even if many Iranian youths have illusions in such a fantasy “community”, it doesn’t exist except as an ideology of the dominant insidious colonisation of people’s desires and aspirations with the mirage of the happy consumer increasingly neurotically integrated into the pseudo-community of separated individuals. Undoubtedly when you’re largely excluded from a vast variety of consumer goods and lifestyles, they seem like something positive from “the outside”. But the grass  always seems greener on the other side of the global hierarchical fence, and intensified suicidal depressions and anaesthetisation through drugs etc. amidst the vast isolation and absence of community, coupled with increasingly suffocating work conditions, is not something that those who live in different more impoverished parts of the world are likely, or want, to be aware of.

Added 6/1/18: this has a good summary and radical take on the forces at work, and makes clear  the differences with the movement of 2009. And this interview with an Iranian atheist (about whom I know nothing other than this) is very informative – definitely worth watching.

The National Council Of Resistance Of Iran is sometimes worth looking at for information, even though it publicises this information purely for opportunist reasons.  It’s clearly a repulsive political racket that wants to boost its leaders’ ambitious fantasies of becoming Iran’s heads of state. It even goes so far as to publish, without irony or the slightest critical sense, the very obviously cynical “support” from Washington and Trump’s gang, designed to functionalise the movement so as to justify its geopolitical manipulations in the region.

“Neither Mullah nor master!”

Graffiti in Besancon

Dortmund (from here):

cropped-delinquent-book-title-e1355336242477-300x285Hits as of 12/5/19: 3640


7 responses to “iran 2018 – 2014”

  1. Cautiously Pessimistic avatar

    Names of some people arrested in recent days here:النظام-الإيراني-يستهدف-الطل/#more-14379

    Also, don’t know much about who these lot are (my guess would be some variety of trots, but can’t really spot which), but this may have some use as a resource from at least a generally pro-working class/anti-regime perspective:

  2. Sam FantoSamotnaf avatar

    I know about this last site you mention – but they seem to be remarkably lacking in details about what’s been happening, and only put up this statement 1 or 2 days ago, not having said anything previously – a statement which doesn’t add anything – it’s at best banalities. For all its appalling pro-Western politics, at least the National Council of Resistance ( gives some interesting facts (eg I found out about the strikes now starting in the oil refineries from their site).

  3. the individual wants the fall of the regime avatar
    the individual wants the fall of the regime

    US media working round the clock to keep their reads from connecting dots about a seething hatred for authority in Iran… typical sheepish appeals for “peaceful protest” from liberals like Amnesty International

    1. James avatar

      and replied:

      …it seems that the social explosion, that we’ve seen in past several weeks in Iran is over…

      Cessation of hostilities in this context (Iran over the last three months) is neither due to brutal repression, nor dulling by selective promises of new social benefits, nor to dilution by the masses of loyal citizens mobilized by the state. It is merely a tactical retreat. Whilst we turn our attention away from our immediate oppressor we can turn our attention to those forces – religiously conservative or politically radical – claiming to act and think on our behalf.

  4. Class War avatar
    Class War

    Afterword – Once upon a time there was an appeal for an international meeting in Kurdistan…

    Two months ago we published here an appeal for an international meeting in Kurdistan signed by “Militants in Kurdistan, Iraq” in relation with the increasing and intensification of the class struggle in the region of Middle East and especially in Iraq and Iran.

    But one thing is to translate and/or publish and spread materials from militant groups as a practical task to develop together the proletarian community of struggle and critics, another thing is to agree (or not) completely on the content of the text.

    Since then an international discussion developed around and about this appeal. Following lines are a reflection of this discussion, discussion which was also the basis for development of our critics of the text.

    When we received this appeal we considered it as an initiative of our class, a militant effort to get centralized and to centralize proletarian direct action in the Middle East region, even though it may not correspond to all of our criteria, even if we would not have written it in this way, even if its milestones and many points remain unresolved or unclear, even very vague, and require a deepening, a clarification…

    The class struggle in the region has been since these last years and months more and more intensive: demonstrations, riots, occupations, burning down of governmental and militia buildings, proletariat arming itself, reorganising its forces… struggle against exploitation and the global dictatorship of the value that prevents the developing and imposing of the dictatorship of human needs.

    Therefore it seems to be logic that the local proletarian groups try to get organized, develop our class associationism, and try to share and centralize their activity and all this not only in the framework of a national state but (what is important) also internationally. We can only greet such attempts as they are crucial for the continuation, development and spreading of the class struggle, moreover when they grow up from the local reality of class struggle as it is the case in Iraq.

    Without falling into the trap of an excess of optimism and overvaluation, we did not want to dismiss (and there has never been any question for us to dismiss) this initiative, what would have made us sinking into an irresponsible indifference and liquidationism or in self-centred complacency… Yesterday, today and tomorrow, communists have been, are, and will still be confronted with dozens, hundreds of initiatives with few clear criteria, with blurry and evasive perspectives, that it has been necessary, that it is necessary, and that it will still be necessary for the most determined elements of the proletariat in struggle to direct, clarify, deepen, coordinate, centralize… to uproot the counterrevolution poison from our ranks…

    From time immemorial, the communists (and we insist once again here on the fact that the formal name we give ourselves is neither a guarantee nor the most decisive element in the development of our struggle), so the communists have always had to fight hard to criticize, denounce, break down, annihilate, eradicate any Social Democratic tendency that is distilled within our struggles, our militant structures, in our texts, appeals, manifestos… like a poison for emptying them from their subversive substance, diverting them from their final goal: the abolition of wage labour and therefore of capital (and vice versa), of the present state of things and its State…

    These are basically the reasons why we decided to publish and spread the appeal.

    But on the other hand, we were and we are of course aware of the important weaknesses of this appeal.

    It is notably the lack of clear criteria for possible participants. An international and internationalist meeting is not an open debate (a conference) where everything can be discussed and put into question! If the issue of the international meeting should be to discuss such important questions as how to centralize proletarian forces, how to turn the weapons against our own bourgeoisie, how to turn an inter-bourgeois war into a civil war…, it is necessary to clarify with whom we want to centralize and on which basis. Who we consider to be revolutionary, internationalist, communist? Those who claim it or those whose practice proves it? We believe that an internationalist discussion can be hold only with those groups who share the basis of communist positions – internationalism, revolutionary defeatism, against wage labour, against state, against capital…

    We have to refuse also a kind of fetishism of armed struggle as it appears in the appeal. If we insist on the fact that proletariat has to arm itself, if the situation in Kurdistan puts it as a pure necessity for the proletarians to survive, we can hardly defend or praise any kind of militia or self-defence unit as such, neither we can consider it as a qualitative leap as such in the class war. Armed struggle is not revolutionary as such. Armed struggle can be revolutionary only as a result of a revolutionary social practise of the proletariat. And it is this social practise that determines the forms of the (armed) struggle. What makes the difference between any armed core and the red army is its content – the class content, proletarian programme that is assumed by it.

    We also want to insist on the critics of gradualism in grasping the class struggle that appears in the appeal. We would like to point out here that class struggle is not developing gradually – from little demonstration to the insurrection, from a small proletarian group to the proletariat organised as a party world widely, but on the contrary through series of organizational ruptures, programmatic clarifications that will inevitably take violent forms. Communists are not loyal to any organisation, group or party, they are loyal only to the communist programme and if the given structure diverts from it, communists should not only leave it, but to organise outside of it and against it. Once again it is the revolutionary content that prevails.

    We have no doubt that there is a need to centralize the proletarian activities in the region of Kurdistan. But there is of course also the question of feasibility of such an international meeting, especially concerning the security of participating militants. Are the comrades “Militants in Kurdistan, Iraq” able to assume such a responsibility in a region riddled with military forces and secret services of all possible colours?

    If a debate on these questions develops in the internationalist milieu, if there are attempts of clarification of above presented problems, we have to admit, that there are not a lot of replies provided by the “Militants in Kurdistan, Iraq”. Is it due to hard repression or technical problems? Or were we mistaken to take their appeal seriously?

    Whatever will be the reply, it doesn’t change anything on the fact that the communists should continue to deal with decentralization of direct action, of local and regional initiatives, of the regrouping of militant forces and attempts to spread the struggle, on one hand, and “political”, programmatic, centralization through clear central guidelines that determine and define the overall goal to be achieved and the enemy to destroy, on the other hand… That is to say centralization and decentralization not as a contradiction, but as a part of the same process, the same movement, in Kurdistan, all over the world.

    Class War – 24/10/2018.

  5. Sam FantoSamotnaf avatar

    From this paywalled site:

    The Iranian Jews Who Joined the Islamic Revolution

    Thousands flocked from Tehran’s synagogues to protests, led by their rabbis. Jewish delegates met with Khomeini to express support for his struggle. A groundbreaking study sheds light on the life of Iranian Jews, their complex view of Zionism and their surprising stance on the Islamic Revolution
    The Islamic Revolution in Iran. Newspapers termed the December 11, 1978, protest a “demonstration of millions.” The Jews were there.

    Ofer Aderet

    Lior Sternfeld is dismissive of the Israeli drama series “Tehran.” In contrast to many others, Sternfeld, a historian who specializes in modern Iran, wasn’t bothered by the final episode of the popular show, in which our aircraft turn back – and not safely – from their mission to bomb a nuclear reactor. What irked Sternfeld was the episode in which the protagonist, Mossad agent Tamar Rabinyan, takes shelter with her Jewish aunt, who remained in Tehran even after the 1979 revolution. The aunt broke off her ties with the rest of her family, all of whom immigrated to Israel, and she established a modelMuslim family with a husband who holds a senior government job and a daughter who demonstrates in support of the regime. However, at the moment of truth, when the relative – the Zionist spy – needs help, she opens the door and hides her from the authorities.

    “It’s absolutely enough to make your blood boil – it’s a scene that is irresponsible in so many ways,” Prof. Sternfeld tells Haaretz in an interview to mark the publication of the Hebrew version of his book, “Between Iran and Zion: Jewish Histories of Twentieth-Century Iran” (Stanford University Press, 2018). What riles him, he says, is the stereotypical, one-dimensional depiction of the only local Jew who’s seen on the screen. “For decades, Iran’s Jews toiled to make it clear that there is a difference between Jews and Zionists, and to show that they are loyal first and foremost to Iran. And along comes this series and provides ammunition for those who claims that in the end the Jews will be more loyal to Israel than to Iran,” he says. He backs up his anger with selected quotes from Persian- and English-language social networks by Iranians familiar with the show. “Overall,” he adds, “the way life in Iran is depicted in the Israeli discourse is terribly superficial, and that applies to Jewish-Iranian life in particular.”

    Sternfeld, 40, is an assistant professor of history and Jewish studies at Pennsylvania State University. Born and raised in Holon to two Ashkenazi parents, and after earning his bachelor and master’s degrees at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva, he obtained his Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests lie in social and political movements in modern Iran. He decided to study the life of the Jews in modern Iran when he noticed that “throughout my studies, from undergraduate degree to doctorate, whenever we were given a reading assignment about the Jews in Iran, the feeling was that when it comes to the modern period, there is no ‘meat’ or analytical richness” to the scholarship.As a student, he notes, he read excellent articles, for example, about the Jews in early, pre-Islamic Iran, or about Jewish language and literature in the Safavid period (16th to 18th centuries). “But when we came to the 19th and 20th centuries, almost everything entered a mold with clear boundaries,” he says, and draws a picture whose contours are familiar to many, including non-historians. Its crux is that under the Pahlavi dynasty (1921-1979) the Jews flourished, in particular thanks to Iran’s good relations with Israel, but following the Islamic Revolution (1979), they found themselves isolated and were only redeemed by the Zionist movement, and the hope of reaching Israel. Sternfeld sums up the dominant narrative, to which he objects: “Jewish history [in Iran] more or less ends, and since then the Jews who remained in Iran became conversos.”
    But Sternfeld’s “gut feeling was that there was more to it than that.” The turning point for him came when he started to study a minor but significant subject: the involvement of Jews in the 1979 revolution. “Every Iran scholar can tell you that the revolution was supported by 90 percent of the country’s population, so why is it that so little has been written about the Jews in that period?” he wondered. When he decided to track down the testimonies and documents himself, he discovered that the material he had in hand was a project that could suffice for an entire book.
    The testimonies he presents to demonstrate Jews’ support of the revolution, which transformed Iran from a pro-Western state into an Islamic state under Shi’ite religious rule, are surprising and thought-provoking. “I am convinced that this story will shock and completely bewilder many Israeli Jews,” he says – and rightfully. After all, many will wonder, what do Jews have in common with the oppressive rule of the ayatollahs, which is murderous in character and hostile to Israel?
    Sternfeld offers a number of illuminating examples to prove that history is not black or white and that there is a disparity between the widespread, often simplistic, narrative and the complex reality. An illustrative case in point is the Jewish hospital in Tehran. Dr. Ruhollah Sapir, a Jewish physician, established the facility in 1942 after witnessing abuse undergone by a Jewish patient in another hospital in Iran. On September 8, 1978 – “Black Friday,” as it came to be known – when mass demonstrations erupted in Tehran, the shah (Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi) sent in the army to open fire on the demonstrators with live ammunition. Many opponents of the regime were wounded. Supporters of the revolution found shelter in Sapir Hospital. The demonstrators, Sternfeld writes, knew that the hospital would not turn them over to the shah’s secret service and also that they would receive good medical treatment there, in contrast to the governmental hospitals.

    Jews take part in one of the mass demonstrations that led up to the Islamic Revolution in 1979. From the Jewish newspaper “Tamuz”
    The book quotes a senior physician in Sapir at the time, whom Sternfeld interviewed. (Like most of the interviewees in the book, his name is not divulged.) “That Friday, the head nurse, Ms. Farangis Hasidim, called me and told me that they are bringing many casualties to the hospital,” the physician said. He noted that almost 90 percent of the wounded arrived at Sapir and were treated in the hospital’s four surgical wards. Sternfeld describes the close cooperation that existed between the hospital’s senior staff and Ayatollah Taliqani, one of the revolutionary movement’s most popular leaders, who was Ayatollah Khomeni’s representative in Tehran before he returned from exile and seized power. Together with Taliqani, the hospital sent out rescue crews for the demonstrators. “After ‘Black Friday’ he [Taliqani] called me and told me how he appreciated all the humanitarian work we did there. And yes, everybody knew about it,” the physician said.
    At the end of 1978, a delegation from the Jewish community traveled to Paris to meet with the leader of the revolutionary movement, Khomeini. “The true goal of the meeting was to ensure that the Jews would not be considered enemies of the revolution, but rather its supporters,” Sternfeld explains. It was the first of many meetings between the two sides. Dr. Siamak Moreh-Sedeq, one of the hospital’s directors and until recently the one guaranteed Jewish delegate in the Majlis (the Iranian parliament), told Sternfeld that shortly before Khomeini returned to Iran he sent a letter of thanks to the hospital’s director for its help in treating wounded revolutionaries. To this day, in 2020, there is a plaque at the hospital’s entrance with the inscription, in Hebrew and in Farsi, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
    On December 11, 1978, one of the largest demonstrations against the shah took place in the capital. Newspapers termed it a “demonstration of millions” and it became a milestone in the struggle against the regime. “Jewish participation [in the demonstration] set records,” Sternfeld writes, noting that “according to some sources, five thousand Jews participated in these protests.” Others estimate the number to have been far higher. “The Jewish religious leaders marched in the front row and the rest of the Jews followed them, showing great solidarity with our Iranian compatriots,” Sternfeld quotes a veteran activist in the Iranian Jewish community who helped organize the Jewish community’s participation. It turned out that the Jewish religious leadership legitimized and supported the appearance of young Jews in the demonstrations. “From the first days of the revolution, we had considerable support from religious leaders,” the activist said.

    Kafka in Tehran
    On the eve of the revolution Jews saw themselves as an integral part of the Iranian nation and identified with the people’s struggle for democracy, independence, freedom and equality.
    Explaining the roots of the Jewish support for the Islamic revolutionaries, Sternfeld takes note of the heterogeneity of Iran’s Jews, who formed a community with multiple identities, voices and worldviews. There were Zionists and anti-Zionists, advocates of Iranian nationalism alongside communists and Marxists, liberals and even some who were allied with the leaders of the Islamic Revolution.
    The origins of the Jewish community of Iran date back 2,700 years, to the period of the Babylonian exile. Throughout most of the 20th century, until the revolution, the country’s Jewish population numbered about 100,000, with natural growth being offset by emigration. By the 1970s, following socioeconomic, cultural and educational transformations, the Jews of Iran were fully integrated into the public arena and stood out in the business sector, the sciences and politics. Jews were administrators, industrialists, merchants, physicians and journalists. Some grew rich and climbed higher on the social ladder. Others filled the ranks of the universities and the professional organizations.
    Sternfeld writes that Jews sometimes gave their children first names bearing a Muslim character, such as Habib, Abdullah and Ruhollah. Jews who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem even added the term “hajj” to their name, like Muslims who went on pilgrimage to Mecca. In 1960, the iconic high-rise Plasco building was added to the Tehran skyline; it was built by the Jewish industrialist and philanthropist Hajji Habib Elghanian (who would become the first Jew to be executed after the revolution).

    The Jewish hospital in Tehran, established by Dr. Ruhollah Sapir, sheltered and treated supporters of the Islamic Revolution. From the Jewish newspaper “Tamuz”
    On a visit to Iran in 1959, former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt paid a public visit to the Jewish hospital. Shahbanu (empress) Farah Diba Pahlavi visited fashion students in one of the schools of the Jewish ORT vocational network. Synagogues and Jewish institutions were “rich, open, full and scattered across the country,” Sternfeld says.
    Moreover, beginning in the 1940s, translations of works by Jewish thinkers had appeared in Iran and been well received. Freud, Kafka, and Isaiah Berlin became familiar names to respectable Iranians. Yosef Cohen, the last Jewish delegate in the Majlis before the revolution, was also a member of the Tehran city council. Following Israel’s establishment, El Al flew the Tel Aviv-Tehran route 18 times a week, and friendly athletics and other sports competitions were held regularly between Iranian and Israeli teams. “Jews were part of every walk of life in Iran, visible, prominent, and integrated,” Sternfeld writes.
    Against this background, it is easily understandable that, alongside the Jewish aspect, the identity of the Jews also included an Iranian national element. On the eve of the revolution they saw themselves as an integral part of the Iranian nation and identified with the people’s struggle for democracy, independence, freedom and equality. Sternfeld describes how many of them experienced the shah’s tyranny and his dictatorship as Iranians, not only as Jews. From there the way was short to their integration in diverse political groups and organizations, whose common denominator was their opposition to the shah’s authoritarian monarchic regime.
    This was the background to the establishment of the organization of Jewish intellectuals in Iran in 1978, which gave expression to the Jews’ dissatisfaction with the monarchical regime. The organization immediately started to cooperate with other revolutionary factions, including Muslim activists. “We formed this group in order to show the rest of the people in Iran that we Jews were not woven from a different fabric of society than other Iranians, but that we also supported goals for democracy and freedom,” Said Banayan, one of the organization’s founders, told Sternfeld. The author sees this as an example that illustrates well that the Jews “stood shoulder to shoulder with their compatriots and placed the national need ahead of the needs of the community.”
    There is an irony here. It was the shah who drew the minorities, including the Jews, closer to Iranian nationalism, and then they joined the 1979 revolution in order to topple the regime. Accordingly, you title the chapter dealing with this “Unintended Consequences.”
    “Correct. The shah’s nationalism project scored a success to the point where the Jews were able to think of themselves first of all as Iranians, and to go into the streets in protest against the situation of the Iranians, and not only to think about relations between the shah and the Jews. The great majority of the Jews were against the continuation of the monarchy and supported the looming revolution.”
    There were also Jews who participated actively in the fighting, though their exact number is unknown. Some of them did so within the framework of their activity in Iranian professional organizations or in explicitly Jewish organizations. Others were active in organizations that were almost wholly Muslim and that supported the revolution. One of those organizations was Mujahedin-e Khalq (People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran). One of the Jewish activists in the organization was Edna Sabet, who was born in 1955 to a Tehran Jewish family from the urban middle class, and many of whose relatives were engineers and industrialists who acquired their education in the United States. During her years of study at Ariyamehr Technical University in Tehran, Sabet began to become involved in political activity. Subsequently, in the wake of her Muslim husband, she joined the Mujahedin and became a prominent figure in the movement. The members of the movement fought alongside the revolutionaries against the shah’s oppressive regime, but after the revolution they were denied the right to take part in the elections and they opposed the new regime and were persecuted by it. Among those who suffered that fate was Sabet: She was arrested and executed in 1982, at the age of 27. What was a left-wing Jewish woman doing in an Islamic revolutionary organization in the first place? “Despite her tragic end, her story illustrates another aspect in the complex weave of identities and loyalties that characterized many of those from her generation,” Sternfeld says.

    Protesters attacking the El Al office in Tehran in 1978. Prior to the revolution, the airline flew the Tel Aviv-Tehran route 18 times weekly.Credit: Kaveh Kazemi / Getty Images
    Sabet’s activity in the Mujahedin-e Khalq, like her activity in Sapir Hospital during the period of the revolution, is an example of what Sternfeld terms a “departure from the traditional patterns of social assimilation of the Jewish community.” In his view, “These cases show us that at the end of the 1970s the majority of Iran’s Jews preferred the interests of their compatriots over their personal good or over the narrow interests of their community.”
    Researchers disagree about how prominent the Jewish involvement in the revolution itself was. There is also a dispute over the causes and background of that involvement. Was it a significant phenomenon, which deserves reexamination, as arises from Sternfeld’s book? Or was it no more than a marginal anecdote? Did the Jews truly see themselves as part of the Iranian society, or did they conduct a pragmatic policy for internal reasons?
    Many of them started to see Zionism as a genuine solution to a genuine problem, but not necessarily their own personal problem. The State of Israel was not part of their Jewish identity.
    Sternfeld is aware of the complexity. Along with the Jews who supported the revolution ideologically, he relates, many Jews understood that its triumph was inevitable and that it was necessary to exploit the opportunities and advantages it might bring to the community and to its future in the homeland.
    David Menashri, professor emeritus from the Middle Eastern and African history department of Tel Aviv University, and who established the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies there, was resident in Iran conducting academic research at time of the revolution’s outbreak. “For the great majority of the Jews, the connection with the revolution stemmed primarily from an instinct for survival,” he says. The Jews who supported the revolution were a “small ideological minority,” he maintains, and likens them to the German Jews who tried, futilely, to remain integrated in German society on the eve of World War II. “It’s not very different from the attitude of the German Jews toward their country: Very connected to the high culture, but not actually wanted,” he says.

    Iranian protesters in front of the Azadi Tower during the Iranian Revolution.Credit: Angelo Cozzi/Archivio Angelo Cozzi/Mondadori via Getty Images
    Nevertheless, Menashri, too, presents a complex picture. In his view, the Islamic Revolution was preceded by a “revolution” in the Jewish community. “A generation of young people, educated, generally left-leaning and not all that much Zionist, ousted the veteran leadership and took control of the community council. They were close to their Muslim colleagues in the leadership of the Islamic Revolution and they made contact with Khomeini’s circle. Their slogan, which was adopted by Khomeini, was that there was a difference between Judaism and Zionism. The veteran leadership [of the community] also connected with that line in the revolution. The same line continues today within the leadership of Iran’s Jews.”
    Another explanation that differs from Sternfeld’s for why Jews supported the revolution is offered by David Yeroushalmi, professor emeritus of Middle Eastern studies at both the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University. It was “mainly from a lack of choice and for pragmatic considerations, in order to ensure their safety and the community’s property,” he says. On the one hand, he reinforces the testimonies that appear in Sternfeld’s study, talking about young, educated Jews who supported the revolution. However, in contrast to Sternfeld, he maintains that “the support was partial and far from sweeping,” and notes the “all-encompassing recoil from the revolution by most of the Jewish groups.” In his view, “Looking back, and based on all we know, the vast majority of the members of the [Jewish] community in Tehran and outside it were deterred and were fearful of supporting a move to remove the regime [of the shah] that had been so beneficial to them.”
    However, in the view of Prof. Haggai Ram, from the Middle East Studies Department at Ben-Gurion University, Sternfeld’s identification of the involvement of Iranian Jews from across the political spectrum in the revolution is a research innovation that has not previously been told in this way. “The story of the participation of the Jews alongside the Iranian revolutionaries is the most riveting part of the book, and I am convinced that it will shock and completely bewilder many Israeli Jews,” he writes at the conclusion of the book. In any event, Sternfeld is convinced that this was a “historic milestone” in the annals of the Jewish community in Iran. For the first time ever, the Jews supported in an organized manner a national goal that transcended their own community’s narrow boundaries.
    “The unique ability of Iranian Jews to develop highly complex identities – and to be largely successful because of their sensitivity to nuances” was often confusing to those who observed them from outside Iran, Sternfeld writes. In this connection, he quotes Haim Tsadok, a Jewish Agency emissary to Iran in the last century, as saying that Iranian Jews and Iranian non-Jews share a common denominator of 90 percent, whereas between Iranian Jews and Israeli Jews there is a difference of 90 percent. “That common denominator is what impelled Iran’s Jews to struggle for their integration into Iranian society,” Sternfeld observes.
    ‘Heroic Palestinian people’
    How does an Israeli Jew who lives and works in the United States go about writing a book on the Jews of Iran, when visiting Iran poses a danger to him? Sternfeld admits that “going to Iran is out of the question,” but as an alternative he chose Los Angeles (“Tehrangeles”), home to the largest Jewish Iranian community outside Israel, most of whom immigrated to the United States in the wake of the revolution. “After a few long visits to Los Angeles, I was able to build relations of trust with the members of the community, and they shared stories, photographs and documents with me. They also put me in touch with their relatives in Iran,” Sternfeld relates.

    Lior Sternfeld. ‘This story will shock many.’ Credit: Michael T. Davis / Department of History, Penn State
    In addition, he conducted interviews in New York, Europe and Israel. With the aid of research assistants and friends, he was also able to obtain the Jewish newspapers that were published in Iran in the last century and were stored in a central library in Tehran, and also to gain access to other publications held in the Iranian National Archives. Among the sources he used in writing the book are reports and correspondence of state and international bodies and agencies, biographies, memoirs and films.
    Sternfeld is adept at portraying the diversity of the Jewish community in Iran, and its cosmopolitanism. “Iran and its Jewish population were part of global and transregional trajectories of displaced persons who found short- and long-term sanctuaries in countries not their own,” Sternfeld writes. Thus a number of Jewish communities – European, Arab, Sephardic – commingled in Iran during World War II and following the creation of the State of Israel.
    Many European Jews found a have in Iran during World War II and following the Holocaust. A remnant of this migration remains there to this day in the form of the only Ashkenazi synagogue in Tehran. The authorities and the Iranian people “generously welcomed” the refugees, Sternfeld writes, in contrast to other governments and peoples in the Middle East. In the light of an unexpected and incomprehensible tidal wave of hundreds of thousands of Polish refugees – Jews and non-Jews alike – Iran, the Iranian people and the urban communities mustered their forces, Sternfeld writes. Not only did they welcome the refugees generously, they also helped them in their efforts to lead a normal life again.
    You present a complex conception of Zionism, which at times may also seem somewhat confusing.
    There may be Jews in Iran who are concealing their identity for diverse reasons, but in general there is no need for that. In the regions where they reside, the Jews constitute part of the fabric of life in Iran.
    Sternfeld: “Iran’s Jews advocated Zionism, but in a softer and more spiritual version than what was accepted in Israel. Even if they maintained a spiritual bond with Israel and Jerusalem, their interpretation of Zionism was not political, and they did not devote themselves to the Zionist movement and its goals: the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Many of them started to see Zionism as a genuine solution to a genuine problem, but not necessarily their own personal problem or as a suitable solution for them. The State of Israel was not part of their Jewish identity, even though many Iranian Jews had family in Israel and also visited the country. Those who remained in Iran were totally devoted to their beloved homeland. They had no intention of replacing Iran with Israel.”
    In the book you quote, in this connection, Elias Eshaqian, who was a teacher and headmaster in Alliance schools [an international network of Jewish schools] for over 25 years, who wrote in a memoir, “Iran has been my homeland and Jerusalem has been the source of my belief in God and the direction of my prayers.”
    “Eshaqian, who was a role model for many Iranians, didn’t allow his religious identity as a Jew to diminish his national identity as an Iranian. He took pride in his combined identity throughout his career, and in this sense offered inspiration and direction to his pupils.”
    You describe how Iran’s Jews avidly supported Zionist organizations, donated money and accommodated refugees on their way to Israel, but to the chagrin of the Zionist leadership, that support did not produce a large-scale of migration. You write that during the first four years of Israeli statehood, the overwhelming majority of the Jews chose to remain in Iran.
    “The proportion of Iranian Jews who opted for the Zionist alternative was quite low. Even though the Jewish Agency prepared passports and entry visas and expected an unprecedented number of immigrants, most of the candidates for aliyah decided not to leave.”
    And as though to complicate even further the already complex picture, Sternfeld also documents fierce criticism, at times bordering on the anti-Israeli and the anti-Zionist, that could be found among members of the Iranian Jewish community following the fall of the shah. In order to conform to the official policy of the Islamic Republic after the revolution, the leadership of Iran’s Jews assailed Zionism, leveled criticism at Israel and expressed support for the Palestinian people. Some of the examples make for unpleasant reading. Thus, in 1981, the Association of Jewish Iranian Intellectuals published an acerbic statement accusing “the Zionists [of] carrying out Nazi-style attacks against defenseless people.” The statement included sentences such as “Long live the heroic Palestinian people” and “Success to the joint struggle of Muslims, Christians and Jews against imperialism and Zionism.” Was this just lip service with the aim of currying favor with the new leadership, or is it further evidence of the complex identity of Iran’s Jews? That question is difficult to answer unequivocally.
    What is certain is that the revolution quickly veered away from its democratic, national and liberal promises, launching instead violent measures of suppression against individuals and organizations suspected of criticizing or opposing the Islamic regime. “Already in the first decade of the revolution there was mass emigration of Jews,” says David Yeroushalmi.
    The Jewish community shrank in size in the wake of the revolution. Today, only some thousands of Jews live in Iran. Estimates of their number range from 10,000 (according to the official census) to 25,000 (the number cited recently by Yehuda Garami, the chief rabbi of the community. In any case, it’s the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel.

    Esti Yerushalmi and Niv Sultan, in the Israeli series “Tehran.” Sternfeld calls the show “superficial.” Credit: Kan Public Broadcasting
    Against the background of this book, one wonders why the creators of the series “Tehran” chose to depict the Jews as a minority living in fear and forced to conceal its identity.“The discussion in Israel of Iranian life and in particular of Jewish-Iranian life is terribly superficial. There may be Jews in Iran who are concealing their identity for diverse reasons, but in general there is no need for that. In the regions where they reside, the Jews constitute part of the fabric of life in Iran. The synagogues, the clubs, the schools, the Jewish hospital and the other institutions are central and prominent. The state underwrites the religious institutions and schools where Hebrew is taught and religious studies take place. There are at least two kosher restaurants in Tehran and even a matza factory. The community has a publishing house. The Jews have stores and businesses and a student association, they have a representative in parliament. For the most part they are middle-class with a tendency to upper middle-class. In the past few years, under the Rohani presidency, they have had several political achievements, such as an exemption from attending school on Shabbat for Jewish children in the public schools, an inheritance law that prevents discrimination toward Jewish heirs if there is also a Muslim heir, and more.”
    The Iranian Jewish woman in the television series is arrested after her daughter informs on her to the authorities. The viewer gets the impression that the Jews in Iran are persecuted.
    “Iran executed tens of thousands of people in horrific lightning trials, but to this day, to the best of my memory, fewer than a dozen Jews have been executed, and for various excuses and reasons.”
    Even so…
    “It’s not a simple matter to be a Jew in Iran, and it would be naive to say otherwise, but it’s not simple to be an Iranian these days at all. There is some sort of assumption that if we portray complexity, we are acting as defense counsel for the Iranian regime and dismissing the suffering it is causing. My view is that when we present a complex picture, the criticism is far more focused and accurate. It is impossible to claim, as no few charlatans do, that Iran treats Jews the way Germany did in the 1930s, and as such presents an existential threat to Iran’s Jews and to Israel. There is plenty to be critical of in regard to the Iranian regime: about its attitude toward minorities, toward groups for political, religious or gender reasons. I don’t wish to dictate a different narrative, but to request a broad range of analyses and approaches to Jewish life and history in Iran.”

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