Jews 'to blame for drugs trade'

 

Iran's vice president used the podium of an international conference on drugs in Tehran yesterday to deliver a baldly anti-Semitic speech, saying that the Talmud, a central text of Judaism, was responsible for the spread of illegal drugs around the world.

European diplomats in attendance during the speech by the vice president, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi, expressed shock. Even Iranian participants in the conference, co-sponsored by Iran and the United Nations, privately wondered at the Iranian government's motivation for allowing such a speech, despite its longstanding antagonism toward Israel.

More than 25,000 Jews live in Iran, and they are recognized as a religious minority, with a representative in parliament.

The speech seemed bound to further isolate Iran just days before a new set of onerous Western economic sanctions, notably a European embargo on Iranian oil, is set to be enforced because of the longstanding dispute over Iran's nuclear program. Iran says their nuclear program is peaceful; Western nations and Israel suspect it is a cover to develop the ability to make nuclear weapons.

Mr Rahimi, second in line to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the Talmud "teaches to `destroy everyone who opposes the Jews."

"Zionists" are in firm control of the drug trade, Mr Rahimi said, asking foreign dignitaries to research his claims. "Zionists" is Iran's ideological terminology for Jews who support the state of Israel.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict. They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade," he said.

What made his remarks even more striking is that Iran's fight against the illegal drug trade is one of the few issues in which the Islamic republic can count on Western sympathy. Iran's battle to stop the flow of drugs coming in from neighbouring Afghanistan has often been mentioned as a potential field of cooperation during negotiations between world powers and Iran over the country's nuclear programme.

Several Iranian ministers gave politically neutral briefings on the impact of the drug trade on the country. Antonio De Leo, the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes representative in Iran, praised the Islamic Republic as a "key strategic partner in the fight against drugs".

Mr Rahimi, who spoke after Mr De Leo, claimed gynaecologists killed black babies on the orders of the Zionists. He also claimed the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 was started by Jews, alleged that no Jews died during that uprising.

He said the Talmud teaches Jews to think they are a superior race."They think God has created the world so that all other nations can serve them," he said.

Halfway through the speech, Mr Rahimi said there was a difference between Jews who "honestly follow the prophet Moses" and the Zionists who are "the main elements of the international drugs trade."

A European diplomat said afterward: "This was definitely one of the worst speeches I have heard in my life. My gut reaction was: Why are we supporting any co-operation with these people?"

But the diplomat, who declined to be identified by name or country, defended his presence at the conference."If we do not support the United Nations on helping Iran fight drugs, voices like the one of Mr Rahimi will be the only ones out there," he said.

One Shia Muslim cleric, a judge, said that he was appalled by the speech.

The judge, who also requested anonymity because of his sensitive position, said the world must ignore Rahimi and he hoped that he and Mr Ahmadinejad would disappear after the presidential elections in 2013. "We all need to be patient for some more months," the judge said.

The speech drew furious condemnation from Israel, which has been angered in the past by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's
description of the Nazi Holocaust as a lie.

"The fact U.N. representatives and European delegates still attend conferences in Tehran, at which the worst kind of
anti-Semitism is sounded, lends legitimacy to the Iranian ayatollah regime," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

Iran's government, he said in a statement, is "made up not of madmen but of fanatical, anti-Semitic people with an agenda, who have a detailed global plan including, as they say openly and forthrightly, the destruction of the State of Israel".

New York Times

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