Sunday, January 09, 2022

  • Sunday, January 09, 2022
  • Elder of Ziyon
From JTA, December 31, 1931:

After being kept in prison for more than five years, Dr. Shmuel Yeheskel Haim, who was the Jewish representative in the (Medjlis) Persian Parliament, (The Jews are entitled under the Persian Constitution to have one Deputy in Parliament) has been executed this week, it is learned to-day, on a charge of having been implicated in a conspiracy against the life of the Shah.

Deputy Haim was first arrested in May 1926; he was soon after released, but he was rearrested in October of the same year, and had been kept in prison till his execution now, in spite of repeated intervention made on his behalf by the Zionist Executive, who had in May 1926 appointed him on the nomination of the Zionists of Teheran as the representative of the Zionist Organisation in Persia in matters relating to Jewish immigration to Palestine.

It was explained by competent Jewish personages in these places who had been in touch with Mr. Haim that he was an ardent Jewish politician, who had been constantly protecting as a Jew against the Government’s persecution of the Persian Jews, and that he was also an active Zionist, and it was argued that it was probably more on account of his activities in these directions that he had been arrested. The Persian Jews contended that he was innocent of the crime with which he was charged, and that the Government was only anxious to get him out of the way because of his stand on behalf of the Jews of the country.

It has been stated that Mr. Haim’s real offence was that as a member of the Persian Parliament he had addressed a letter to the League of Nations complaining bitterly of the treatment of the Jews in Persia. The League of Nations, it was said, had addressed an enquiry on the subject to the Persian Government, whereupon the Shah sent for Deputy Haim and demanded that he should write to the League of Nations and state that everything had been put right. Deputy Haim agreed to do this on two conditions. The first was that the Chief of Police should be dismissed, and the second that the oppression of the Jews in Persia should really be stopped. The Shah resented these demands, especially, it was stated, as the Chief of Police is a close relative of His Majesty, and Deputy Haim was thrown into prison and sentenced to death for conspiracy.
Jews in Persia, 1918

The article then goes on to describe the official antisemitism in Persia:
He was put into Parliament by the Jews of Persia in place of Dr. Loghman, a Teheran physiclan, who was the first Jewish representative in the Medjlis, after the proclamation of the Constituion. One Jew among 120 Moslem Deputies, it was complained, he sat down and made no attempt to raise the Jewish question, to protest against the unlawful taxation imposed upon the Jews in the Provinces, to demand that murderers of Jews who are time and again allowed to go free should be punished, that the laws which have at various times been passed in favour of Jews should not be allowed to remain a dead letters. Finally, the Jews deposed him and put Deputy Haim into his place, and Deputy Haim started a vigorous reorganisation campaign of the Jewish Communities, school committees, relief committees and the Zionist Committee.

After his arrest, a prominent Persian Jew wrote of the position of his fellow-Jews in Persia – “oppressed, persecuted, treated with contempt and ignored in their own country, the Jews of Persia have been almost forgotten by the Jewries of the world, and left to their fate. No one knows of them, or cares for them, and they themselves have lost the power and the energy to do anything for themselves. Pensian Jewry has become a backwater in Jewish life”.

Numbering all told about 60,000 souls, the Jewish community in Persia leads a life of continual harassment and affliction, he wrote. Surrounded by a vast ocean of Mohamedanism, the Jews are looked down upon as something inferior and second rate.

The standard of Jewish education is low. There are no Jewish religious schools and no Medrashim in Persia. The only Jewish religious knowledge is what is taught in the elementary schools – a little reading of the Torah and the study of Rashi for a few hours in the week, including oral translation into Persian, he continued.
The article says that things had been improving in more recent years, but this execution indicates that Jews were tolerated as long as they didn't make too much noise.


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