Even if this was part of the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s campaign of smiles for the West, the visit to the Shiraz synagogue Friday night, May 1, by the head of his assistant for minority affairs, Hojat- Islam Ali Yunessi, was especially noteworthy. He was the first high-ranking Iranian cleric to visit a Jewish synagogue in a decade and, moreover, he delivered a speech in praise of Iran’s ancient Jewish community’s successful coexistence with other groups.
But most remarkably, he admitted that historical research and archeological excavations in the last 150 years had corroborated the Biblical account of the deeds of the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great (550-530 BCE).
(The Bible recounts that Cyrus issued a fabled decree for the emancipation of slaves, including the Jewish people, from Babylonian captivity, and allowed them to return to their homeland in Judah and rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem.)
That reference alone will undoubtedly be enough to bring Iran’s radical elements down on Yunessi’s head for his temerity in gainsaying precepts laid down by the founder of its Islamic Revolution.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared the Jewish Bible a forgery because of its many contradictions of the Koran text and denounced all Persian rulers prior to his revolution as symbols of despotism and repression.
According to debkafile’s Iranian sources, Yanessi acted out a gesture on behalf of President Rouhani that was designed to allay Iranian Jews’ fear of fallout from the constant denunciations of the rulers of Tehran by Israel’s leaders.
Tehran is pinning high hopes on the visit to Israel this week by US National Security Adviser Susan Rice and the senior US negotiator Wendy Sherman on a twofold mission:
1. To try and talk Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu out of his absolute conviction that the accord to be signed, which will acknowledge Iran as a nuclear threshold state, is bad and harmful to Israel’s and world security.
2. If that doesn’t work, Rice and Sherman will try and obtain an Israeli pledge not to resort to a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, an action that would scuttle the Obama administration’s entire Iran strategy.
Full article: High-ranking Iranian cleric visits Shiraz synagogue, confirms Biblical version of Jewish homeland (DEBKAfile)