With international tensions at a fever pitch over Iran's nuclear ambitions and the violent reaction in Teheran to European cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, concerns are rising about the fate of the Iranian Jewish community after its departing head took an unusual public swipe at the president of the Islamic republic.
Haroun Yeshaya, longtime chairman of the Jewish Central Committee of Teheran, sent a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regarding his repeated denial of the Holocaust. The letter was sent several weeks ago, but first made public by the Iranian Jewish community last weekend.
"How is it possible to ignore all of the undeniable evidence existing for the exile and massacre of the Jews in Europe during World War II?" Yeshaya wrote. "Challenging one of the most obvious and saddening events of 20th century humanity has created astonishment among the people of the world and spread fear and anxiety among the small Jewish community of Iran."
The regime has not officially responded to the letter. But the Forward has learned that by the time the letter had been written, Yeshaya already had been sidelined after falling out of favor with the Ahmadinejad government.
As a result, Yeshaya's outburst was being seen by some observers in America as both a parting shot and an expression of the community's angst over a possible backlash arising from the regime's increasingly anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric.
Jewish leaders outside Iran were also expressing increasing worries over the fate of the 25,000-strong community.