The defunct Iranian monarchy was a friend of Israel between 1953 and 1979

Israel and Iran, the history of an ancient friendship broken by Islamic extremism

If you look closely, in some demonstrations supporting Israel in different countries you can also see Iranian flags.

The armament of the air forces of Israel and Iran for a war between the two countries
A new attempt to whitewash the Iranian dictatorship, now from the right-wing

We can see an example of this in Photo: the beautiful photo of Beth Baisch that heads these lines. Obviously, they are not the flags of the current Islamist dictatorship, but the Persian flag of the lion and the sun, which was the flag that flew in that Middle Eastern country before Islamic extremism took power in 1979 and turn that country into the main ally of Islamist terrorism in the world.

From Iranian rejection in 1947 to recognition of Israel in 1950

Relations between Israel and Iran did not start well. Israel has always been a democratic country, and Iran was, theoretically, since 1923, but with elections usually marked by electoral fraud. Iran was a parliamentary monarchy. In 1946, the then Iranian Prime Minister, Ahmad Qavam, founded the Democratic Party of Iran, a misleading name for a nationalist and anti-Western party formed by aristocrats and that sought to establish an authoritarian regime. Qavam's Iranian government voted against the partition of the former British Mandate of Palestine, which gave rise to Israel.

In 1948, another politician from the Democratic Party of Iran, Mohamed Saed, became prime minister. His government voted against Israel's admission to the UN in 1949. However, and despite the hostility towards Israel on the part of the Iranian population - especially Islamic extremists -, on March 4, 1950, Iran was the second Muslim country (after Turkey, in 1949) to recognize the State of Israel. For more than two decades, they were the only two Muslim countries that maintained relations with the Jewish State.

Tensions in Iran and the breakdown of relations in 1951

During that time, Iran was a country under great tensions due to Soviet pressure in the north (and its support for the communists of the Tudeh Party), the influence of Islamic clerics and British oil interests. This tension reached one of its highest moments with the attempted assassination of the Shah, the Emperor of Iran, in 1949, in a plot organized by the communists of the Tudeh Party and which led to the illegalization of this.

In April 1951 Mohammad Mosaddegh, of the National Front of Iran - a socialist, anti-monarchist, nationalist and anti-Western organization - came to power. During his mandate, Mosaddegh did something worse than the electoral fraud that had already been common in Iranian electoral processes for years: he stopped the 1952 elections when they had been elected 79 of the 136 seats in Parliament. Mosaddegh sought to nationalize Iran's oil fields and expel the foreign companies that extracted the crude oil. This decision led the United Kingdom to declare an international boycott of Iranian oil.

On July 7, 1951, Mosaddegh effectively severed Iran's relations with Israel, ordering the closure of the Israeli Consulate in Tehran citing financial difficulties as a false excuse, although he did not revoke Iraq's recognition of the Jewish State. . Mosaddegh also expelled British diplomats in October 1952. In political terms, Mosaddegh acted very similar to Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, leading the country into a drift that began to provoke deep concern in the Army, mostly hostile to the regime that the socialist prime minister was establishing.

Friendship between Israel and Iran from 1953 to 1979

Finally, in 1953 Mosaddegh was deposed by a military coup d'état, which led to the Emperor of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, acquiring a greater role in public life. The country adopted a secular and pro-Western regime. Thanks to the income obtained from oil, the country underwent strong industrial development and a large middle class was formed, especially in the cities. This particular Iranian industrial revolution between 1953 and 1979 led to a social position of women very different from other Islamic countries and closer to Western countries. Many photos that are nostalgically seen today of the Persian population in Western clothing and women in miniskirts correspond to that time.

Between 1953 and 1979, when Islamic radicals seized power, Iran and Israel became friendly and allied countries, establishing a strong counterweight in the region against the alliance between Egypt and the USSR. Israel contributed decisively to the economic and technological boom in Iran and also made contributions to the Iranian Armed Forces.

The rise to power of the Islamists and their support for terrorism against Israel

After Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power, Iran broke relations with Israel. The country went from being a secular and Westernized dictatorship to becoming an Islamist dictatorship. Since then, Iran's Islamist regime has been supporting different terrorist groups against Israel, especially Hamas, in Gaza, Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and the Palestinian Jihad. Many of the attacks by these terrorist groups against Israel, including the massacre perpetrated by Hamas on October 7, 2023 (the largest massacre suffered by the Jewish people since the Holocaust) have been instigated and supported by Iran, which provides weapons, economic support and training to these criminal gangs.

The situation of the ancient Jewish community of Iran

It should be noted that Iran was home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, with a presence in that country since ancient times. Jews residing in Iran numbered about 150,000 at the time of the creation of the State of Israel, a population that included many Jews who had escaped the Holocaust in Europe. Between 1953 and 1979, the Persian Jewish community enjoyed unprecedented freedom, being able to publish their own newspapers and educate their children in the Hebrew language. The Persian Jewish community, which had historically lived in poverty, prospered remarkably during the Shah's reign. In 1979 there were about 100,000 Jews in Iran. The country's largest Jewish community was in Tehran, where 60,000 of them resided. Today there are less than 9,000 left. Most of them fled to the US, Israel and Europe.

Today, the Iranian democratic opposition, which dreams of its country becoming a democracy again and recovering the prosperity it achieved before 1979, openly shows its sympathy for Israel because it was a friend of Persia, until the current Iranian Islamist regime changed that friendship for fanatical hostility. Hopefully ancient Persia can see the flag of the lion and the sun fly again and the Persian people regain their freedom, and with it the old relationship of friendship that united them with Israel.


Photo: Beth Baisch.

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