PARIS (Jan. 22)
Close advisers to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khoumeini said here they were neither anti-Israeli nor anti-Jewish and that the “New Iran” might even renew at same future date some of its former links with Israel.
They told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Israel will have to fulfill, however, three basic conditions first sign a peace treaty with the Arab states, allow the Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes, and return the Moslem holy places in Jerusalem to. “Islamic rule.”
The men around the Ayatollah, who serve as his advisers and public relations men, told JTA that if these conditions are met, which they described as “minimal,” a future Iranian government under Khoumeini’s inspiration might even resume its oil shipments to the Jewish State.
“We are not against Israel or against the Jews,” they said. “On the contrary, our holy books reach us that we should live in peace, like brothers, with all men. Our holy man (Khoumeini).is a man of peace and brotherly love. He is opposed to any form of violence but he wants justice, justice for all and this includes our Palestinian brothers.”
Some of the Ayatollah’s lesser advisers stressed that they also expect Israel to “punish” those Israelis who, they claim, had helped set up the Shah’s political police, the Savak, and assisted him in running it. “We have complete files with all the pertinent details on the Israelis who cooperated with the Savak. We want the Israeli government to try and punish them for their crimes against humanity” say some of these exiled Iranians.
All these comments and declarations express more a mood and a trend among Khoumeini’s followers than a clear-cut policy as Khoumeini’s headquarters in the small village of Neauphle-le-Chateau, 40 kilometers southwest from Paris, resemble neither an administration, even embryonic, nor a government, even in the making.
ATMOSPHERE AT KHOUMEINI’S HEADQUARTERS
Two small cottages and a striped blue and white tent used for prayers and for larger meetings are off the main highway running from Paris to Chartres, which contains four rooms, a kitchen and bath and his main offices. He is rarely alone except when he walks along the snow-covered path to attend the five daily religious services which take place in the tent. Even during occasional interviews with the press, he generally listens and nods his head while letting one of his advisers do the actual answering.
Most of his time is spent listening to the reports which pour in from Iran, meeting envoys of the various Iranian political parties or dictating his instructions over the telephone. It is difficult to believe the power which he wields, as one watches the short, old man in his grey flowing robe and black turban sitting on the often wet floor of a working class bungalow. And yet, his slightest words succeed in making millions of Iranians move, demonstrate and face death with a certain equanimity.
In the main courtyard off the tent, hundreds of Iranians, students, intellectuals, workers, exiled ministers and would be political leaders, wait. The mood there is openly anti-Israeli and generally anti-Jewish. Most of these people blame Israel for having supported the Shah and his police and blame the Iranian Jews for having profited from the general corruption.
Visitors, such as the JTA correspondent, can enter the courtyard or the “general offices” with no visible restrictions. There are no guards and no security precautions. The Iranians who wait, sometimes practically round the clock in spite of the bitter cold, are prepared to welcome all visitors with no questions asked.
HARMFUL DEVELOPMENT FOR ISRAEL, JEWS
The guest just walks by the tent, in which scores of men and women pray all day long, chanting Khoumeini’s name, and up the steps to the second cottage, Shoes are left outside the door in the main office sit some of the advisers, cross legged on the floor in stockinged feet. Because of the bitter cold, most keep their overcoats and fur caps on.
They are a strange mixture university professors from America, world famous economists, farmer ministers and ullemahs, Moslem religious preachers. Anyone who wants to join is welcomed into the circle. As one noted, “This is Islamic democracy.”
In spite of the advisers apparent attempt to reassure international public opinion over Israel and the future of Iran’s 80,000 Jews, the atmosphere is one of obvious hostility. A new Iran, under the Ayatollah’s leadership, is definitely a harmful development for both Israel and the Jews.