How is it even possible that there are Jews in Iran?

Does the government somehow differentiate between (and tolerate) local Jewish communities like the ones around Yazd from the Jews in Israel? And Iran’s hatred is more directed toward the state of Israel rather than directed toward individuals who believe in Judaism?

They are Iranians. Their families have been there for centuries. I can’t explain why they haven’t left.

Islam is actually surprisingly civilized towards Christian and Jewish minoritiesーit’s ‘heretical’ islamic sects that receive the brunt of violence. Since Jews in Iran are such a minority that they have no ability to influence the country in any capacity, the Iranians don’t really seem to mind them. It’s not the notion of Judaism that the Iranians find distasteful, but rather the fact that someone else has a measure of control over them that they dislike.

IIRC, most of the remaining Jews live in Tehran and there are only a a few 10’s of thousands at most left there. I think that as long as they are willing to live as 2nd class citizens and don’t rock the boat wrt which religion is really in charge they are fine (I believe this is also the case for Christians). Islam is really tolerant of other religions as long as it’s clear that the followers of Islam are in charge. Mohammad actually wrote quite a bit about tolerance for other religions as long as certain rules were followed, again from my vague memories of reading the Koran many years ago).

One might also suggest that Iran’s “hatred” towards Israel is more played up by Israel than a reality in Iran. It currently seems to suit Israel to cast itself as beset by sworn enemies on all sides. Iran arguably has more in common with Israel than not - being surrounded by traditional enemies. Certainly Iran’s main focus is Saudi Arabia, with Israel being little more than an afterthought - although I suspect the occasional sabre rattling towards Israel has proven useful in accelerating negotiations with the US.

Remember the adage - anyone who claims to understand Middle Eastern politics is either lying or deluded.

Livia Rokach paraphrased Moshe Sharett’s diaries on a Moseh Dayan speech to the same effect

The conclusions from Dayan’s words are clear: This State has no international obligations, no economic problems, the question of peace is nonexistent… It must calculate its steps narrow-mindedly and live on its sword. It must see the sword as the main, if not the only, instrument with which to keep its morale high and to retain its moral tension. Toward this end it may, no — it must — invent dangers, and to do this it must adopt the method of provocation-and-revenge… . . And above all — let us hope for a new war with the Arab countries, so that we may finally get rid of our troubles and acquire our space.

In what percentage of muslim majority countries is this true (emphasis added)? And you might want to define “surprisingly civilized”, because that can mean anything from “tolerant to the nth degree” to “they don’t behead Christian and Jews on sight”.

For some reason a lot of people in these boards conflate “having a problem with (some) Israeli policies or even with the existence of the State of Israel” with “hating anybody who is Jewish by religion or ancestry”, but I promise there are billions of people out there who do not.

The problem (to the extent public perception is a problem) with Islam is that Saudi Arabia’s brand of Wahhabism–with all its fundamentalist and ultraconservative practices–has had an disproportionate role in creating the popular Western idea of what Islam actually is. People, especially Americans, often don’t realize that Islam as practiced in Saudi Arabia is actually a recent development (the movement was born only in the 18th Century), and one that is considered extreme in its beliefs when you look at Islam as practiced historically and in other Islamic countries…

For perspective, consider that Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, Morroco, and Tunisia are also countries with Muslim majorities.

That’s not quite true. Salafi/Wahhabi like principles are widespread in Islamic countries. The key factor is whether the country is poor or rich - or at least part of the country. In general the poorer and less well educated the more likely you will get Salafist like attitudes.

For example you get serious fundamentalism in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. However that’s not some religions movement. It’s centuries to millenia of cultural tradition. You see the same traditions in Jordan, Gulf States, and a lot of North Africa. I suspect also in Africa proper but I’m not full bottle on that.

The Saudi Arabia Wahhabi venture was basically a political veneer over long held tribal views used to seize and hold territory.

South-East Asia? Yes there are fundamentalist spots especially in Indonesia. Whether that’s just current fashion or the product of millennia of devotion is another question. In my experience Malaysia is pretty tolerant though there is a strong Islamic flavour and Christian/Hindu/Buddhist minorities have good reason to grumble.

Edit: Incidentally you don’t even need to be Sunni to be Salafist. Indonesia has Sufi Salafist groups. (I’ll need to revisit Sufisim. I thought they were the equivalent of Muslim Hippies/Buddhists, but it appears not so)

And your expertise about the social and cultural condition in Pakistan and Afghanistan is…?

Some people are just really, really, really stubborn.

Perhaps you’d care to explain the social and cultural conditions in the tribal area of Pakistan? You may have more knowledge than most on SD…

What does this mean?


Salafism is a new movement despite these claims.

What is “africa proper”

North africa is part of africa and has been for the thousands of years of human history.



You do not understand what Sufism is (or I think salafism). It is not possible to be Sufi and Salafi. They are 100% contra the other.

Anyone who writes such a thing has near zero understanding of what he is writing about.

The Sufist path is charismatic, it is spiritual and it is not literalist. It is the opposite. Salafism hates sufism.

However, to be sufi is not in contradiction to being either of the shia or of the sunni. The Tariqa differ in their approaches, some can even cross over the shia and the sunni divide but to be of a sufi tariqa is to be in utter contradiction of the Salafist (in its real meaning).

It is for this the followers of ibn Wahab destroyed the tariqas centers in the Arabia.

I am afraid you do not have a good understanding of what you pretend to make opinions about.

Bear in mind that Jews have been living in the region that is now Iran since the time of Cyrus the Great. I can understand why they wouldn’t want to leave.

For the question, it is the common mistake of westerners of the Christian background to see the relationship of the Muslim world to the Jews through the eyes of their history and not the Muslims history (or to avoid the dispute, the majority of the Muslims view of the history).

It is not the typical view to have the kind of racial hatred of the jews and make a difference between israel and native jews. Not everyone of course and I sympathise with the jews who make the aliyah. But the vision of the muslim world as being one big saudi arabia is a false vision although I see it here all the time, year after year…

yes, and I wish the takfiri madmen would be supressed, they are killing tolerance and it saddens me.

If you had actually been to Iran you would see it is not what you believe it to be. There are of course Jews living there… and Christians, Zoroastrians and others… just in small enough numbers that they pose no threat to the government’s status quo.

How difficult is it for an Iranian Jew, along with his family, to get permission to emigrate from Iran today?

I’m not sure what part of my post you’re disagreeing with. Fundamentalist religious beliefs can obviously be found in all countries, but my point (relevant in the context of the OP’s wonderment at how Jews can possibly live in Iran) is that not all Muslim countries are like Saudi Arabia.