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Iranian Jewish MP dismissive of Netanyahu, senators' letter

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Siamak Moreh Sedgh shares his thoughts on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress and the letter sent by US senators to the Iranian leadership.
Iranian Jewish MP Siamak Moreh Sedq (L) and schoolboys read prayers during a demonstration in front of the United Nation's building in Tehran on November 19, 2013 in support of Iran's nuclear program and Iranian negotiators on the eve of the new round of nuclear talks with world powers in Geneva. Talks are scheduled to restart on November 20, as the P5+1 group aims to convince Iran to roll back its work that Western power suspect is masking a military nuclear drive in exchange for some sanctions relief. AFP

In a phone interview with Al-Monitor, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, the only Jewish representative in the Iranian Majles, said that synagogues in Iran are the safest in the world and pointed out that during World War II, Iran was a refuge for Polish and other Jews fleeing Europe. He does not like to be associated with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that Netanyahu is not the representative of world Jewry. Moreh Sedgh openly protested against the Holocaust cartoon contest held during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 

Moreh Sedgh is a former head of the Tehran Jewish Committee, and today, in addition to being a parliamentarian, he works as a doctor and is also the director of the Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center in Tehran. During the interview, Moreh Sedgh also spoke about the letter sent by 47 US senators to the Iranian leadership about any possible nuclear agreement and Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on the same issue.

Al-Monitor:  Forty-seven US senators have sent a letter to the Iranian leadership warning them about the consequences of an agreement that is not approved by the US Congress. As a member of the Iranian parliament, what is your opinion regarding this letter?

Moreh Sedgh:  ​As a member of the Iranian parliament, I think it was unfortunate that this letter was sent. It is unfortunate that representatives of a country that thinks of itself as the greatest country in the world suffer from lack of general knowledge. We should tell the American public to be more careful with their votes. These senators have no idea about international laws, and they are apparently not familiar with their own constitution either! The people who composed this letter are not even slightly familiar with international laws and relations.

The nuclear negotiation is not between Iran and the United States, it is between Iran and the P5+1 [China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States plus Germany]. Aside from the United States, there are six other countries involved in these negotiations. It is surprising that these senators have allowed themselves to interfere in the diplomatic relations of other nations and have questioned the legality of the treaties concluded by the president of the United States.

Al-Monitor:  Will this letter cause any hesitations on the Iranian side and make them wonder whether they should continue to negotiate with the United States?

Moreh Sedgh:  No. Today in Iran, everyone is in agreement with the negotiation team and believes in these negotiations. The leader of the Islamic Republic has repeatedly expressed his support for these negotiations. But let us forget about Iran for a moment. The United States is currently negotiating with other countries as well. For example, what will happen to the negotiations that are currently going on between the United States and Cuba? Should the Cubans worry now because of this letter? What about the other countries that have concluded treaties with the United States? Should they start doubting the validity of their treaties? What these senators claim has no legal basis.

Al-Monitor:  But there are people inside Iran, referred to as the “concerned” group, who criticize these negotiations as well.

Moreh Sedgh:  What is going on inside Iran is not comparable to what has been going on in the United States during the past few months. Netanyahu is the source of all these activities. When a political figure like Netanyahu, who does not have a good international reputation, is invited to give a speech in front of the US Congress, then it is not surprising that following his speech such a letter is composed by US senators. Their letter questions the validity of all the treaties concluded between the United States and other countries. If this were really the case, then no country could ever trust another country in the world. If the strategic goals of the United States can change this easily, then there will be no international stability.

Al-Monitor:  A while back, Netanyahu spoke in front of the US Congress about the ancient enmity that exists between the Iranians and the Jews. What is your opinion on this matter as an Iranian Jew who shares his religion with Mr. Netanyahu.

Moreh Sedgh:  I don’t like to be associated with Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Netanyahu is not the representative of all the world's Jewry. But regarding Iranians and the Jews, the way the Jews were treated in Iran, especially during the Islamic period, is exemplary. Jewish Iranians lived comfortably in Iran during the Islamic period. During the darkest times in Jewish history in Europe, such as the Middle Ages and World War II, not only did Iran remain a safe place for Jewish Iranians, but it also became a refuge for some of the European Jews who fled Europe.

Today, we can see the gravestones of Jewish clerics, in places such as Yazd and Kashan, who had immigrated to Iran during the Middle Ages. In the Jewish cemetery in Tehran, there are a lot of gravestones belonging to Polish Jews who fled the Holocaust during World War II and immigrated to Iran. As a Jew, I proudly say that today the safest synagogues in the world are in Iran. There is no synagogue in Europe that does not require special security. This is not the case in Iran, and historically it has never been the case either.

Al-Monitor:  Is the Iranian parliament preparing a response to the letter written by the US senators?

Moreh Sedgh:  Their letter is not worthy of a response. For the Iranian members of parliament, this was more of a joke than anything else. These senators are not the representatives of the American people, they are the representative of the warmongers who become anxious whenever they think of peace and stability in the world. Like demons, they constantly encourage war and violence. Mr. Obama needs to make it clear to these people that they are out of line.

Inside Iran, we shouldn’t really pay any attention to this letter. We have always had a stable foreign policy and never sacrificed our national interests because of partisan politics. Unfortunately, some of these American neo-cons are so interested in warmongering and defending gun factory owners that they sacrifice their own national interests for the sake of Zionists.

Al-Monitor:  Barack Obama has reacted to this letter.

Moreh Sedgh:  I have read his response to this letter, but I think he needs to be more decisive. More than being a problem for us, this letter is a problem for Mr. Obama. These senators are trying to sabotage Obama and his diplomatic negotiations. In Iran, we are all in agreement regarding the nuclear negotiations, but in the United States, the administration has to deal with these problems.

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