Iran’s foreign minister wishes Israel

Despite a year that saw Israeli and Iranian forces directly clash, Tehran’s foreign minister on Sunday sent “all Jews” a Rosh Hashanah greeting, wishing them a new year of “peace and harmony.”

Background

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, a day of Judgement and coronation and the sounding of the shofar. It begins at sundown on September 9 and continues through night fall on September 11.

It is a day of prayer, a time to ask the Almighty to grant a year of peace, prosperity and blessing. It is also a joyous day when Jews proclaim God, the King of the Universe.

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, on both days of the holiday (except if the first day is Shabbat, in which case we blow the shofar only on the second day).

Analysis

“As the sun gives way to the moon, I wish all my Jewish compatriots and Jews worldwide a very Happy New Year filled with peace and harmony. Happy Rosh Hashanah,” tweeted Mohammad Javed Zarif.

His greeting was accompanied by pictures of Iranian Jews praying in a synagogue. The Jewish New Year starts at sundown on Sunday.

Still, many Iranian Jews complain they are not treated equally under the law. In July an Iranian court overturned a ban on religious minorities standing in municipal polls.

Zarif’s wishes come after a year of heightened tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran that saw the largest ever direct clash between Israeli and Iranian forces and Israeli agents brazenly steal Iran’s nuclear archive — material that proves, according to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that the regime has lied when claiming it has not sought to build a nuclear weapons arsenal and that it intends to resume its pursuit of nuclear weapons when it can. “We are members of a deep civilization, who give great importance to freedom of religion and belief, and consider social, cultural, religious and human diversity as wealth,” he said in a statement.

He added that Turkey protects the rights of its citizens to live their culture, religion and traditions freely without facing any discrimination.

“I wish all Jewish people, especially our citizens a happy Rosh Hashanah festival, which is one of the important religious festivals of Judaism,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also sent his wishes to Russia’s Jewish community, praising their contribution to the country.

“I note with satisfaction that Jewish religious organisations are actively engaged in the country’s life, conduct effective charity activities, have implemented much needed educational projects, acquaint young people with their rich historical and spiritual heritage, the original culture and traditions of their ancestors,” Putin said in the letter, according to his office.

“The contribution of the Jewish communities toward enhancing inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue and consolidating centuries-old friendship of Russia’s peoples is definitely important,” Putin said.

US President Donald Trump also tweeted wishes from him and the first lady. “Melania and I pray that the High Holy Days are filled with God’s peace love and mercy.”

Assessment

Our assessment is that the animosity between Iran and Israel is more a historical aberration. We believe that Iranian diplomats saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust and also that Iran served as an escape route for Iraqi Jews fleeing to Israel after the 1948 war for Israeli independence. We also believe that it was the Persian King Cyrus who passed a decree in 539 BC that any captive Jew in Babylonia could return to Jerusalem to rebuild the  Jehovah’s temple.