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U.S. Jewish Leaders Assured About Rights of Jews Under Khoumeini

February 15, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

American Jewish leaders were given assurances by representatives of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khoumeini here that Jews in Iran would be given full civil and religious rights .It was also learned that this assurance was also given personally by Khoumeini to a large delegation of Iranian Jews who called on him in Teheran this week.

Questions on the status of Iranian Jews were raised by Bertram Gold, executive vice president of the American Jewish Committee, and Daniel Mariaschian , director of the Middle Eastern affairs department of the Anti Defamation League of B’nai B’rith at a private meeting last Saturday with two of the Ayatollah’s representatives in the U.S. Shahrior Rouhani and Reza Sadra. A larger meeting with about seven Jewish officials was tentatively scheduled for tomorrow.

Gold told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the two Iranians tried to reassure them about the future of Jews in Iran .Rouhani, who is spokesman for Khoumeini’s Interim Committee to Oversee the Activities of the Iranian Diplomatic Corps in the U.S. , said Jews , along with Christians and Zoroastrians would have ” full civil rights–both political and religious.”

But Rouhani told Gold and Mariaschian that these rights would not apply to the some 200,000 to 300, 000 members of Bahai, a religious sect whose world center is in Haifa: The Bahai were given some prominent positions by the Shah and Khoumeini considers them a political group not a religious minority.


Gold reported that while Rouhani expressed the wish that Iranian Jews would remain in that country , he said they would be free to leave and would be allowed to sell their property . Recently, the Iranian government had imposed a $3000 limit on the amount of assets that could be taken out of the country.

Rouhani said that Iran will not sell oil to Israel , South Africa or Rhodesia, Gold said .He noted that the Iranian spokesman indicated that Iran would not participate in any military efforts against Israel since it expects to be chiefly concerned with domestic problems for the next three to five years. Gold pointed out that Jews, however, would not be able to express support for Israel, according to Rouhani.


This is expressed in a report on the prospects for Iran by Dr. George .E. Gruen; the AJCommittee’s director of Middle East affairs, released today. The report said Iranian rabbis welcomed Khoumeini when he returned from France and “were received cordially.” After the government of Prime Minister Shaput Bakhliar collapsed Sunday, Khoumeini ” received a large delegation from the Iranian Jewish community and welcomed them warmly and again reassured them of full fights so long as they didn’t engage in treason” Gruen viewed treason as an apparrent reference to support for Israel. He expressed concern that khoumeini’s hostility to Israel may spill over in the minds of the populace into animosity toward the local Jewish community as well.”

Gruen said that what eventually happens will depend on how much influence will be wielded by Mehdi Bazargan, the 74-year-old leader chosen by Khoumeini as Prime Minister. “As a founder of the Iranian Committee for Human Rights, he (Bazargan) is considered sensitive to the rights of minorities, “Gruen noted.

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