Wonder why one should consider UNESCO United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization), UNHRC (UN Human Rights Council), or Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) anti-Semitic in nature? Consider the fact that these organizations have not demanded the de-legitimization of Iran, a country that violates the very essence of what we call human rights and religious freedom. Instead, these organizations have repeatedly selected the one democracy in the Middle East for boycotts, sanctions, condemnations and historical revisionism – Israel. Moreover, Israel, unlike Iran or its Arab neighbors, is a thriving democracy, where diversity is celebrated, human rights, religious freedom and the rule-of-law are respected, protected, and rigidly observed.
In a video presentation made for the Gatestone Institute, Denis MacEoin, a British analyst and writer who holds a PhD from Kings College at Cambridge University, pointed out that immediately following the 1979 Iranian revolution, “The clerical masters of Iran embarked on a campaign to demolish every single holy site and cemetery belonging to the Baha’i faith, the largest religious minority in Iran. The men in turbans love nothing more than to exterminate the Baha’is, hanging not only their leaders, but even a 15-year old girl for the ‘heinous crime’ of teaching Sunday school morality lessons to children. Hundreds of Baha’is are serving long prison sentences, and they are goaded by their jailers that if they would only recant their faith, they would be made free again. Young Baha’is are forbidden from attending any institution of higher learning, even those with outstanding academic grades. When Baha’is set up their own online university, the teachers were arrested.”
MacEoin continued, “The long term aim is to rid the country (Iran) of the Baha’is while inflicting as much pain on them as possible. Islam is intolerant of heretics and apostates, even if the group is not even a remote threat. Baha’is believe in world peace, universal brotherhood, tolerance, and the equality of the sexes. They are forbidden to resort to violence. They are even commanded as a religious principle to obey the government in whatever country they live in. There is something else that deeply upsets the clerical regime in Tehran, the Baha’is have their holiest shrine and international shrine in Haifa, Israel.”
According to MacEoin, the Israeli government does not threaten to undo any of that. Instead, it works closely with the Baha’is as they expand their center. Moreover, Israeli law of the protection of all holy places is applied rigidly. The Baha’i temple enjoys the same privileges as any synagogue, church or mosque in the country, and it is under state protection. The contrast between the intolerant Iranian persecutors and Israel’s tolerance towards all religious faiths is amply demonstrated. MacEoin also stressed that the Iranian regime that hangs and imprisons the peace loving people for their beliefs, is today a major threat to Israel and the entire Middle East. Iran’s leaders have vowed to “wipe Israel off the map.” Iran is building a massive arsenal of ballistic missiles, and is working again on acquiring nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, they fund terrorist entities from Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, the Houtis in Yemen, and threaten Saudi Arabia with war. They are the greatest threat to world peace.
The Iranian theocracy persecutes not only Baha’is, but all religious, ethnic, and linguistic minorities including Azeri Shiites, and Kurd, Baluch, and Arab Sunnis. It is intolerant of Christians and Jews as well. Members of these groups face frequent arrests and imprisonment, denial of economic opportunities, expulsion from educational institutions, and are often times deprived of the right to work. Religious minorities experience the destruction of their religious sites, such as cemeteries and prayer centers. Individuals seeking recognition for their cultural and linguistic rights risk facing harsh penalties, including capital punishment.
According to The Guardian (1/4/2016), Iran executed 289 civilians in 2014, 369 in 2013, 314 in 2012, and 360 in 2011. Iran is second only to China in executions of civilians. The Islamic Republic of Iran violates all norms of international human rights behavior, including harsh punishments of victimless “crimes” such as fornication and homosexuality. It executes offenders under 18 years of age, and imposes severe restrictions on freedom of speech and the press. It has imprisoned U.S. and western journalists without cause as a bargaining chip. And, it denies freedom of religion to all non-Shiite religious groups, particularly to Bahai’s.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, women are denied equality under the law. The value of a woman’s life is half that of a man (for instance, if a car hit both on the street, the cash compensation due to the woman’s family was half that of the man’s) as cited by Shirin Ebadi in “Iran Awakening: A memoir of Revolution and Hope.” The testimony of a male witness is equivalent to that of two female witnesses. In Iran, a woman needs her husband’s permission to work outside the home or leave the country. In the inheritance law of the Islamic Republic, women are entitled to half the inheritance of man. Women are rarely promoted to high positions in the Islamic Republic, and despite their relatively high level of education, they make up only 14% of government employees. Restrictions on Iranian women also extends to their dress. All women, including foreign visitors, must wear a veil. Zahra Eshraghi, granddaughter of Ayatollah Khomeini, told the Daily Telegraph (June 19, 2005) “Discrimination here (in Iran) is not just in the constitution. As a woman, if I want to get a passport to leave the country, have surgery, even breathe, I must have permission from my husband.”
Amnesty International 2016-2017 Report stated that Iranian “authorities cracked down further on the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, arbitrarily arresting and imprisoning peaceful critics on vague national security charges. Those targeted included human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, bloggers, students, trade union activists, film makers, musicians, poets, women’s rights activists, ethnic and religious minority rights activists, environmental and anti-death penalty campaigners.”
What has been mentioned above barely touches the extent of the Islamic Republic’s cruelty toward its own people, and its threat to Israel to and regional peace. Yet, U.S. and European campus activists have not carried out a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Iran’s domestic (human rights and abuses) and international behavior (terrorism, war mongering and genocidal threats). Instead, they have targeted the only democracy in the Middle East that allows dissent, and rigidly observes human rights and religious freedom, even in the face of Palestinian Islamic terror, intolerance, and defamation.
The international community, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) are more than happy to make deals and trade with Iran. Yet the same nations and organizations like UNESCO, the UNHRC, and SJP vilify the only free democratic state in the Middle East and beyond. Does it not seem perverse when the UN, UNHRC, and the EU smile fondly on the persecutors (Iran) and defame the protectors (Israel)? As MacEoin put it, perversity isn’t perhaps the right description of this condition. It would be far more appropriate to describe it as moral depravity.
Delegitimization, Demonization and Double Standards, the 3D test, is a set of criteria put forth by Nathan Sharansky to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. Under this criteria, SJP and some UN agencies are indeed anti-Semitic organizations that are engaged in moral depravity.