BY RACHEL AVRAHAM, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 10/08/18 01:20 PM EDT
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL
“J Street strongly condemns the Iranian regime’s vile anti-American rhetoric, its outrageous support for acts of international terrorism, its destabilizing and bloody meddling in the affairs of its neighbors, and its deplorable human rights record,” according to an internal J Street congressional document. Really? Then why does J Street’s website list numerous action alerts to save the Iran deal and thwart President Trump’s efforts against the Iranian regime?
In recent days, a Kurdish female minor and rape victim was executed in Iran. A Shiraz councilman was arrested for trying to secure the release of Bahais imprisoned because of their faith. Ahwazi Arabs, Baloch and Kurds continue to face systematic discrimination. And yet, noticeably absent from J Street’s list of action alerts is any mention of assisting the Iranian people in their struggle for human rights or even raising awareness about these issues.
The best way to address human rights abuses in Iran, suggests J Street on its website, is through the nuclear deal. However, when Yael Patir, J Street’s representative in Israel, was asked to explain how exactly the Iranian nuclear deal could possibly assist human rights, she declined to comment. Salah Bayyazidi, the U.S. representative of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, a Kurdish freedom fighting organization, regards assertions that the Iran deal was good for human rights in Iran as beyond absurd, adding that J Street is “crazy” for having met with Ahmadinejad.
“There are twelve million Iranian Kurds being oppressed, massacred and killed,” Bayyazidi declared. “We have the highest execution rate in the world. They did not even return the dead bodies to the families. The Iranian nuclear deal that J Street supported and is trying to save was at the expense of human rights in Iran. The U.S. gave the Iranian regime $150 billion, which they turned over to Hezbollah, to the Houthis in Yemen, to Assad in order to fight in Syria, and to the Iraqi militias in order to take over the Kurdish region. So why give them that money? It was a wrong policy.”
Kurdish rebel Mohammed Alizadeh, who works for the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, another Kurdish group fighting against the Iranian regime, concurred: “With international attention focused on Tehran’s nuclear activities, pro-democracy activists, journalists and human rights campaigners in Iran face a worsening situation and daily harassment.”
“Kurds are denied the right to speak their language, to study their history and to participate in politics,” he noted. “Kurdish activists face arbitrary arrests, harsh prison sentences and executions without a fair trial. This year, the regime has been exceptionally iron-fisted in its treatment of the Kurdish community, cracking down fiercely on political activists, increasing the number of arrests, excessive sentences and hangings.”
In fact, the plight of Iranian Kurds has deteriorated in the wake of the nuclear deal, prompting some local Kurds to respond by attempting self-immolation, claims Alizadeh, adding that a number of Kurdish political prisoners have engaged in hunger strikes. Furthermore, Iranian Kurdish dissident Kajal Mohammadi emphasized that the Iranian regime not only continued but increased its efforts to build the Shia Crescent and support terror across the region. And as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s United Nations speech indicated, Iran still has atomic warehouses.
Despite all of this, J Street is doing everything it can to save the deal and to tie President Trump’s hands in going after the mullahs. So, does J Street truly care about the human rights of the Iranian people? Or are they a “blocking-back” for the Mullahs in Tehran.
Rachel Avraham is a fellow at the Haym Salomon Center and is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”