5 Mar 2015

Iran: We saved the Jews three times; Netanyahu should learn history

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s accusations in his recent speech to the U.S. Congress that Iran wants to destroy Israel.

In an interview with NBC, Zarif said that “Iran saved the Jews three times in its history,” insinuating that Netanyahu should brush up on his history lessons.

Zarif said Netanyahu distorts both the current reality and the writings in Jewish sources and the Bible.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Netanyahu now totally distorts realities of today,” Zarif said. “He even distorts his own scripture. If you read the book of Esther, you will see that it was the Iranian king who saved the Jews. …

“It is truly, truly regrettable that bigotry gets to the point of making allegations against an entire nation which has saved Jews three times in its history: once during that time of a prime minister who was trying to kill the Jews, and the king saved the Jews; again during the time of Cyrus the Great, where he saved the Jews from Babylon, and during the Second World War, where Iran saved the Jews.”

Challenge from the reporter

Senior NBC correspondent Ann Curry, who has been covering the nuclear talks between the powers and Iran for two years, challenged Zarif with the examples that Netanyahu gave in his Congress speech.

She quoted a tweet from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “This barbaric wolf-like and infanticidal regime of Israel which spares no crime, has no cure but to be annihilated.”

The Iranian foreign minister tried to avoid the question and claimed that Khamenei was not referring to all Jews, but the “Israeli regime” headed by Netanyahu.

“If we wanted to annihilate Jews, we have a large number of Jewish population in Iran who not only live in the country in peace, but, in fact, have a representative in Iranian parliament allocated to them, disproportionately to their number,” Zarif said.

“Every 150,000 Iranian Muslims has a representative in the parliament, whereas less than 20,000 Jews in Iran have a representative in the parliament. So we’re not about annihilation of Jews.

“We have a history of tolerance and cooperation and living together in coexistence with our own Jewish people, and with Jews everywhere in the world. If people want to espouse fear mongering to fan such hysteria in the world, that’s to their detriment.”

`The regime is a threat’

Curry repeated the question and asked Zarif to qualify the distinction between “the regime in Israel” and the Jews.

“This regime is a threat,” Zarif replied. “A regime that engages in the killing of innocent children, a regime that engages in acts of aggression. Iran has not invaded any other country. We have not threatened to use force.

“Just exactly the opposite of Israel. Israel threatens to use force against Iran almost on a daily basis. … Of course if they did use force against Iran, we would defend ourselves, as we have done with great sacrifice in the past. But we are not invading, we are not threatening anybody. We have not threatened anybody for 250 years.

“We have a record to prove of what we say. He doesn’t. He has a record full of infanticide, full of killing of innocent people, full of aggression against his neighbor, full of occupation.”

Curry continued to pressure Zarif. She reminded him that during the speech to Congress, Netanyahu accused him of laying a wreath at the grave of Hezbollah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh, who was responsible for killing hundreds of Americans.


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