There’s a Jewish joke I like to tell, which goes something like this:
There was a Jew in 1938 who insisted on reading Nazi newspapers. A friend scolded him: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself — why don’t you read a Jewish paper?” The Jew replied: “When I do, I get depressed — they talk about poverty, death, schools without heat. But when I read the Nazi publications, I’m uplifted. They say we control everything, all the banks, all the world economies.”
I am reminded of this joke when I read this next story:
Iran’s vice president delivered a baldly anti-Semitic speech on Tuesday at an international antidrug conference here, saying that the Talmud, a central text of Judaism, was responsible for the spread of illegal drugs around the world.
European diplomats in attendance expressed shock. Even Iranian participants in the conference, co-sponsored by Iran and the United Nations, privately wondered at their government’s motive for allowing such a speech, even given 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 by Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi seemed bound to isolate Iran further 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 the program is peaceful, and Western nations and Israel suspect it is a cover to develop the ability to make nuclear weapons.
Mr. Rahimi, second in line to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the Talmud teaches to “destroy everyone who opposes the Jews.”
The “Zionists” are in firm control of the illegal drug trade, Mr. Rahimi said, asking foreign dignitaries to research his claims. “Zionists” is Iran’s ideological term 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,” Mr. Rahmini said. “They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade.”
What made his remarks even more striking is that Iran’s fight against illegal drugs is one of the few issues on which the Islamic republic can count on Western sympathy. Iran’s battle to stop the flow of drugs coming in from neighboring Afghanistan has often been mentioned as a potential field of cooperation during negotiations over the country’s nuclear program.
Several Iranian ministers gave politically neutral briefings on the impact of the drug trade on the country. Antonio De Leo, the United Nations 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, told stories of gynecologists’ killing black babies on the orders of the Zionists and claimed that the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was started by Jews, adding that mysteriously no Jews died in that uprising.
He also 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 his 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 cooperation 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.
So according to Rahimi, us Jews – ehh, I mean Zionists – are never drug addicts and never lost any co-religionists during the Russian Revolution. That’s wonderful news!
What is not such wonderful news: Iran is moving forward with its nuclear program.