Christians depicted crucified in Iranian TV program (Palestinian Media Watch)
A series currently broadcast on official Iranian television depicts “evil” Jews eagerly stoning crucified Christians during the decline of the Roman empire, leading some observers to believe Iran may use pressure tactics against?its Jewish community if the U.S. or Israel?takes action against?Tehran’s suspected nuclear facilities.
The series, translated by Palestinian Media Watch and run on Iran’s Sahar TV, is a fictionalized account of the Seven Sleepers, a Koranic story of seven Christian soldiers who hid in a cave to escape oppression and massacre by pagans during the rule of the Roman Emperor T. Decius (A.D. 240-251). The men slept, sealed in their hiding place, for 309 years before waking from the cave, believed to be in Turkey.
Iranian TV depicts Jews seeking to stone Christians (Palestinian Media Watch)
Although the Koranic version contains no mention of Jews and specifically names Roman pagans as the oppressors, the Iranian series shows “stereotypically evil-looking Jews wearing prayer shawls who notice the crucifixions and bribe the Roman officer to permit them to stone the Christians,” reports PMW.
The text reads as follows:
Romans: Antonios, you’ll be crucified for promoting Christianity.
Jews: Soldier, who are they?
Roman guard: Antonios the Missionary and some Christians.
Jews: Come over here! Stone him!
Roman guard: Stop. He will eventually die.
Jew: Take this [bribe] … and pretend you don’t see.
Some worry the series may fuel long-standing fears within the Iranian Jewish community that the Iranian regime will make its 23,000-strong Jewish population a scapegoat if the U.S. or Israel increases pressure against the mullahs in response to their suspected nuclear program, recalling the 1999 arrest of 13 Iranian Jews charged with “spying” for Israel.
Some observers have quietly commented the Iranians may try to use pressure tactics against its Jewish community to ward a pre-emptive Israeli or U.S. strike to destroy any illicit nuclear weapons facilities.
“If a foreign state attacks Iranian nuclear reactors or any other government controlled building, it would create a hostile environment for Iranian Jews,” Pooya Dayanim, president of the Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee, told WorldNetDaily. “They have been singled out routinely as ‘Zionist agents,’ so there may be mistreatment.”
Sam Kermanian, secretary-general of the Iranian-American Jewish Federation, told WND, “Any foreign relations issues for Iran has nothing to do with the Jewish community. We expect the Iranian government to protect all its citizens under any circumstances. Our community is keeping close watch of issues in Iran and we will not stand for any sort of negative actions.”
In April 1999, Iran arrested 13 Jews it accused of spying for the “Zionist regime” and “world arrogance” – Iranian code words for Israel. Those arrested included a rabbi, community leaders and a 16-year-old boy. The U.S., Israel and many European countries called on Iran to immediately release the prisoners and were highly critical of the case, calling it institutionalized anti-Semitism.
State Department Deputy Spokesman James Foley at the time called the arrests “very disturbing. We call on the government of Iran to ensure no harm comes to these individuals and to release them.”
“Not one of the arrested men was involved in espionage and not one of them has, or has had in the past, any connection with any Israeli intelligence agency,” said Ariel Sharon, at the time Israel’s foreign minister.
Five prisoners were quietly released after their trials, and the rest were released in February 2003.