PBS, desperately trying to promote the fiction that Iran is good to Jews, ran a segment in which they interviewed a Jewish member of Iran’s parliament, who insisted that he was happy living in Tehran.
Correspondent Reza Sayah interviewed Siamak Morsadegh, whose wife wanted to move to America 20 years ago and did so, while he refused to leave. Morsadegh insisted that anyone who wanted to leave Iran could leave; he simply did not want to.
Sayeh asked Morsadegh, “Many people outside of Iran are going to remark that you're not being completely truthful, you're not being completely open. How can you convince people?" Morsadegh answered, “I cannot convince a man who don't want to understand our condition, of course.”
Although Jews living in Iran date back over 2,500 years, as Tablet Magazine’s Yair Rosenberg pointed out, there were once 150,000 Jews in Iran; 90% fled Iran in the 20th century.
For years, NPR has been parroting the idea that Jews are fine in Iran; in 2015 NPR published an article along the same lines.
Sayeh interviewed Manouchehr Behravan, who used to live in New York City, but returned to Iran saying there was no anti-Semitism in Iran. One thing he values in Iran, he says, is the absence of anti-Semitism. Behravan stated, “I feel safer here than probably the United States, because, in the United States, a lot of people have access to guns.”
Sayeh acknowledged, “Not everything is perfect for Iran's Jews. They're still kept away from senior government and military positions. Some are believed to be closely monitored by Iran's intelligence agencies, and many people question if they're openly expressing their true feelings. And they find themselves in a seemingly difficult position. They live in a country whose leaders are sworn enemies of Israel, the homeland of their faith.”
But there’s another side to the story, as detailed by journalist Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, who visited Iran’s Jewish community in 2016:
Jewish life here comes with carefully constructed rules and understandings, and one of the basic tenets involves separation from and defamation of Zionism and Israel. Outbursts of loyalty to the regime are expected, whether in the form of volunteering for a war or sharing an enemy, and that aspect of Iranian Jewish reality is something I as a European Jew can relate to and fully understand. It is clear that the Jewish community lives with a constant level of suspicion toward outsiders and insiders alike, always fearing treachery and infiltration; and much like in the Soviet Union, people are trying to weed out informants, unsure how to tell friend from foe.
Hernroth-Rothstein asked one woman about the claim that Jews were free to leave for Israel any time they wanted and got a truthful response. The woman stated:
We are allowed by law now, but when you leave the country you have to put up collateral, often everything you own, and usually there is only one visa per family offered at one time. So we can visit, if we do it discretely, but rarely someone leaves. The price would be too high for the rest of us.