Israel is celebrating Passover, the holiday that marks their departure from slavery under the pharaohs to freedom and the transformation of the Jewish people into their own masters under God.
The Israelites lived in Egypt for a long time, since the days of Joseph, when Jacob’s family moved to Egypt because of a severe drought. At the beginning of the Israelites’ stay in Egypt, they lived in dignity without problems, but since a new king arose in Egypt, a Pharaoh “who did not know Joseph” brought disaster on everyone, Egypt and Israel.
The new ruler saw the Israelites as a political threat and decided to systematically eliminate them. Pharaoh denied the rights of the people of Israel and made them slaves. Pharaoh tried to break their spirit and turn them from human beings into a kind of object.
Pharaoh’s goal was to kill all people of Israel, but not so quickly, so that he could enjoy them as slaves. In every generation a new pharaoh arises seeking the destruction of Israel. In our times, those who replaced the pharaohs are the Ayatollahs in Iran.
The Ayatollahs came to power due to the public outrage in Iran over the behavior of the Shah, the ruler, which caused crowds to take to the streets and demand his departure from their country and to be replaced by a new leadership. The one who managed to channel the public anger for his own purposes was Ayatollah Khomeini. When Khomeini came to power, Iran’s attitude towards the State of Israel changed 180 degrees. A new ruler came to power, one who did not know how much the local Jewish community and the State of Israel contributed towards making Iran great.
Before the ayatollahs came to power, Iran and Israel were countries with close ties with many Israelis developing infrastructures in Iran and manufacturing Iranian weapons (the same weapons that are used as a threat against Israel today). The new Pharaoh and the Ayatollah Khomeini both refused to acknowledge the contribution that Israel made to their people, and both suffer the same consequences.
A reminder – the Israelites lived in Egypt, thanks to the sacrifice to Joseph, who saved the land of Egypt from a severe drought of seven years. The use of Jewish/Israeli/Hebrew knowledge is evident both in Egypt before the new pharaoh and in Iran before Ayatollah Khomeini. The hatred and desire to exterminate the people of Israel in the new regimes in Iran and pharaonic Egypt are even more evident.
Compare the common goal of the Egyptian pharaohs and the Ayatollahs in Iran – the elimination of the Israelites. One of the Iranian presidents most remembered by Israelis is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who once said, “The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor. Even if one cell of them is left in one inch of (Palestinian) land, in the future this story (of Israel’s existence) will repeat. The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land…. A new Middle East will definitely be formed. With the grace of God and help of the nations, in the new Middle East there will be no trace of the Americans and Zionists.”
To this day, Iran is brandishing the atomic bomb that will be in its possession to try to eliminate the people of Israel. Iran’s second method is to strengthen the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and of course also Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Another similarity between the Ayatollahs in Iran and the pharaohs is the subject of the imprisonment of the Jews. Pharaoh in the story of the Exodus did not agree to release the Israelites from Egypt so that they could go to their land, the Land of Israel. One of his reasons was that since they were the slaves of the Egyptians there was no reason to treat them as free and legitimate human beings. This is how the Ayatollahs view the Jews living in Iran who will be transformed into hostages if Israel ever attacks Iran. 10,000 Jews today live in Iran, making it among the largest Jewish communities in the Middle East.
Prior to the revolution, the Jews were treated well. The Shah did not care that the Jews were not Muslim, so long as they remained loyal to his regime. For this reason, Iran assisted Jews from the Arab world who fled their own countries following Israel’s War of Independence. There were even a number of Israelis who moved to Iran, including farmers from kibbutzim who had come to teach agriculture and doctors from Hadassah Hospital who came to teach medicine. That is how Jewish life was in Israel under the Shah but when the new “pharaoh” came all was conveniently forgotten.
After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, in which the Ayatollahs came to power, the Jews of Iran were severely repressed. In today’s Iran, Jews are barred from wearing a kippah in the street, banned from celebrating Jewish holidays in public, and face a generally hostile atmosphere where Jewish children are beaten on the way to school and Jewish women are barred from touching fruits and vegetables in the market for Jews are considered “unclean.”
Jews are also barred from working in public service, the army, and higher education. Jews are also barred from traveling to Israel and Zionism is illegal under Iranian law. The Jews of Iran can be seen as a sort of continuation of the Israelites in Egypt. A religious minority in a country where the government has changed from a government that accepted them to a government that does not see them as equal citizens and forbids them to leave and go out freely.
There us also a direct connection between the Nazi “pharaoh” and Iran. The Shah of Persia adopted the idea of Aryan superiority and declared that Persians are part of the Aryan race (even though most of them are not blond with blue eyes). That is why Persia was renamed “Iran”, which translates into English as “the land of the Aryans.”
However, it should be remembered that there was one Iranian diplomat who worked for the Shah named Abdol Hossein Sardari who actively tried to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust. He successfully convinced the Nazis that Jews from Iran, Central Asia and Bukhara were actually Jugutis and not Jewish in the European sense, which thus enabled them to be labeled as Muslim and to escape from the Holocaust. He was able to convince the Nazis: “By virtue of their blood, their language, and their customs, they are assimilated into the indigenous race and are of the same biological stock as their neighbors, the Persians and the Sartes (Uzbeks).”
As a result of his appeal, most of the Persian Jews that were successfully labeled as Jugutis managed to survive the Holocaust. Yet, the Ayatollahs today deny the Holocaust ever happened and thus do a disservice to the bravery demonstrated by Sardari. According to Middle East Media Research Institute, Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative to Iran’s Markazi Province, Gholamali Dorri-Najafabadi, said that it is not true that 6,000,000 Jews were killed in the Holocaust, because there were not that many Jews in Europe. He said that the true figure is around 50 or 60 Jews, and that the Holocaust has been used as a “pretext” to fight against Islam, Muslims, and the hijab.
The Ayatollahs who rule Iran are the successors of the Egyptian pharaohs, as those who refuse to learn to acknowledge the blessings of the Jewish people and are bound to suffer the consequences.
This story about Passover should teach us to be thankful not only for the Jewish people among us but for every generation that has gone before us and helped build the freedoms and securities that we enjoy today in the nations we live. This story is a stark reminder that our refusal to appreciate or acknowledge those that went before us spells disaster.
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