Earlier this week, authorities in Tehran unveiled a monument to slain Iranian Jewish soldiers who died during the country’s long and bitter war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988. Death tolls for the hideous conflict differ, but casualty counts usually reach more than 1 million for both countries.
A public ceremony marked the memorial’s opening on Monday, with speeches that took place at a dais flanked by the Iranian flag and a menorah. Banners showed the images of fallen soldiers, hailed as “martyrs” in Farsi and Hebrew inscriptions.
After Israel, Iran has the Middle East’s second-largest community of Jews — with its current population estimated between 20,000 and 30,000.
“We are not tenants in this country. We are Iranians, and we have been for 30 centuries,” Ciamak Morsadegh, the Iranian Jewish parliamentarian, told Washington Post reporter Rezaian last year.
“There is a distinction between us as Jews and Israel,” added a shopkeeper in the historic city of Isfahan. “We consider ourselves Iranian Jews, and it has nothing to do with Israel whatsoever. This is the country we love.”