US Jewish journalist tells of relative freedom on rare trip to Iran

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http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-jewish-journalist-tells-of-relative-freedom-on-unprecedented-trip-to-iran/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=40b69903cc-2015_08_13&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-40b69903cc-55201169

An American-Jewish journalist just back from an unprecedented week-long reporting trip to Islamist Iran described a relatively free hand in choosing who to interview and what questions to ask, despite being assigned a government minder.

In a longform multimedia piece published Wednesday in the Jewish Daily Forward, the newspaper’s deputy managing editor Larry Cohler-Esses detailed the process of obtaining a visa to the Islamic Republic — with the help of a member of the Iranian Jewish community who wrote a letter on his behalf — and his subsequent conversations in Iran with ayatollahs, government officials and regular Iranians on Jews in general and Israel in particular.

“Though I had to work with a government fixer and translator, I decided which people I wanted to interview and what I would ask them. Far from the stereotype of a fascist Islamic state, I found a dynamic push-and-pull between a theocratic government…

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The Guardian: Iran’s Jews reject cash offer to move to Israel

Iran’s Jews have given the country a loyalty pledge in the face of cash offers aimed at encouraging them to move to Israel, the arch-enemy of its Islamic rulers.

The incentives — ranging from £5,000 a person to £30,000 for families — were offered from a special fund established by wealthy expatriate Jews in an effort to prompt a mass migration to Israel from among Iran’s 25,000-strong Jewish community. The offers were made with Israel’s official blessing and were additional to the usual state packages it provides to Jews emigrating from the diaspora.

However, the Society of Iranian Jews dismissed them as “immature political enticements” and said their national identity was not for sale.

The Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv reported that the incentives had been doubled after earlier offers of £2,500 a head failed to attract any Iranian Jews to leave for Israel.

Iran’s sole Jewish MP, Morris Motamed, said the offers were insulting and put the country’s Jews under pressure to prove their loyalty.

Despite the absence of diplomatic ties with Israel, Iranian Jews frequently go there to visit relatives.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/jul/12/israel.iran

Iranian Froeign Minister Zarif condemns Holocaust.

Mohammad Javad Zarif told Tasnim news agency that he sent a tweet saying: “Happy Rosh Hashana”.

In a Twitter exchange that followed, he also distanced himself from the Holocaust denials of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran has a Jewish community of between 25,000 and 80,000 so the fact that Iranian leaders are congratulating Jews on the occasion of Rosh Hashana would not necessarily be controversial, say correspondents.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23990717

Background on Zarif:

Zarif was born on 7 January 1960 in Tehran.[1][2] He studied international relations at San Francisco State University.[3] He attended the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and obtained a PhD in international law and policy.[4][5]

In 2000, Zarif served as chairman of the Asian preparatory meeting of the World Conference on Racism and as the chairman of the United Nations Disarmament Commission.

Zarif is married and has a daughter and a son who were born in the US.[15] He is fluent in English.[9]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Javad_Zarif

Iranian president tweets Rosh Hashanah blessing to Jews

Hassan Rouhani’s message to mark start of Jewish new year unexpected in Israel, which has identified Iran as security threat

Iran‘s president, Hassan Rouhani, tweeted: “As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/iranian-president-rosh-hashanah-blessing