BANGKOK, Thailand -- Iran's foreign minister says the newly elected government does not deny the Holocaust, is not anti-Semitic and tweeted Rosh Hashanah greetings to all Jews, but is still against political Zionism.

"We were never against Jews. We oppose Zionists who are a small group," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the semi-official Tasnim news agency in September, according to Tehran Times.

"We do not allow the Zionists to represent Iran as an anti-Semitic country in their propaganda so they can cover up their crimes against Palestinian and Lebanese people," Zarif said.

Zarif is a U.S.-educated former ambassador to the United Nations and posted on his Twitter account "Happy Rosh Hashanah" on Sept. 5 to welcome the Jewish New Year.

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Christine Pelosi -- daughter of U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi -- responded to Zarif on her Twitter by writing, "Thanks. The New Year would be even sweeter if you would end Iran's Holocaust denial, sir."

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"Iran never denied it," Zarif replied on his Twitter feed to Christine, who is a San Francisco, California-based author, attorney and political activist.

"The man who was perceived to be denying it is now gone. Happy New Year," the foreign minister wrote, referring to the Islamic Republic of Iran's former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who lost power on Aug. 2 after an election.

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Iran is home to about 25,000 Jews who reside mostly in Tehran and form the Middle East's biggest Jewish population outside Israel, but many other Iranian Jews emigrated during the past 30 years because society became increasingly Islamic.

Jews and Zoroastrians each enjoy one reserved seat in the majlis, the country's parliament, thanks to a constitutional revolution in 1907. Christians have three reserved seats based on their larger population.

After Hassan Rouhani became Iran's president in August, he wrote on his purported English-language Twitter site: "As the sun is about to set here in Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah."

Rouhani's statement on Twitter is illlustrated with a photograph of an Orthodox Jewish man praying.


Richard S. Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based journalist from San Francisco, California, reporting news from Asia since 1978, and recipient of Columbia University's Foreign Correspondent's Award. He is a co-author of three non-fiction books about Thailand, including "Hello My Big Big Honey!" Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews; 60 Stories of Royal Lineage; and Chronicle of Thailand: Headline News Since 1946. Mr. Ehrlich also contributed to the final chapter, Ceremonies and Regalia, in a new book titled King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life's Work: Thailand's Monarchy in Perspective.

His websites are:

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(Copyright 2013 Richard S Ehrlich)