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The Tehran Children

The Children of Tehran
Early Crimes of the Zionists Against Jews
The Story of the Polish Refugee Children (1939-1942)
excerpt from Genocide in the Holy Land by Rabbi Moshe Schonfeld
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There were a number of groups of Jewish refugee children who were brought to Iran on their way to Palestine during World War II, where they were placed in a town called Atlit. These children came from authentic religious homes, and were subject to every technique their Zionist overseers could think of in order to tear them away from their religion. This activity, of course, was perpetrated on many occasions after World War II, including against pure Jewish communities who were fooled into leaving their homes in Yemen and other Arab countries and depart for the Zionist state.

The Zionist body known as the Jewish Agency established a camp for refugees in Tehran, Iran, in the summer of 1942 where several hundred children were under the supervision of members of the notoriously anti-religious organization known as Hashomer Hatsa’ir [The Young Guard]. Beginning with the holy days of the new Jewish year, the children were denied the opportunity to attend religious services at synagogues in Tehran, and on the fast day of Yom Kippur, their Zionist overseers mocked the religion by eating in the presence of the children. In addition, the kitchen at the refugee camp was not kosher, and children were punished for refusing to eat non-kosher food.

The so-called camp counselors even sought to encourage immorality by presenting themselves as “models” of immoral behavior in the presence of the religious teenage refugees. Children were even denied proper new clothing, and had to make due with old clothing.

By the early months of 1943 news reports of events in Tehran found their way into religious publications, and even the religious Zionists were incensed at the way the refugee children were being treated. Committees spent the next several months trying to find out what was occurring both in Tehran and in Atlit and seeking to correct the anti-Jewish orientation of the refugee camp.

The Zionist Jewish Agency proclaimed in February 1943 that it is our wish specifically for educational reasons that the new immigrant children should see Palestine as it really is: the land under Hebrew secular construction. p.74

The attempts of members of the religious organization, Agudath Israel, to protect the children were frustrated at every opportunity by the anti-religious elements supervising the children. Indeed, correspondence between the Agudath Israel and the Jewish Agency indicated the refusal of the latter (in a letter from Agency leader Yitzhak Greenbaum) to assure religious education for the refugee children, and instead pontificated in the framework of vain Zionist nationalism:

It is our opinion that children aged 14 and over are capable of choosing their lifestyles themselves. Your comment is not intended to clarify a decision but to argue against a decision. Our paragraph c means that Jewish children coming to this land will be trained to be good citizens of the motherland, will prepare themselves for a productive life, and will actively participate in the building up of the land. P. 89.

Zionist leaders such as Henrietta Szold strongly resisted any requests of religious activists to assure that the refugee children, most of whom had come from religious homes, would be placed in religious communities following their arrival in Atlit. Instead, they worked to have the children placed in atheistic, Zionist kibbutzim. Unfortunately there was not sufficient cooperation between all religious elements, and the Zionist Mizrachi activists sought to retain their close relationship with the secular Zionists and their loyalty to the Zionist nationalist program in Palestine. Ultimately political rather than purely spiritual considerations of the religious and non-religious Zionist groups resulted in the distribution of refugee children from religious backgrounds among the Agudah and Mizrachi movements.