Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani sent greetings to the Jewish people on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah.
Early Monday morning, Rouhani released the message, “May our shared Abrahamic roots deepen respect and bring peace and mutual understanding. L’Shanah Tovah.”
The comment did not appear on the Farsi version of Rouhani’s statements, suggesting the Iranian president was targeting his comments toward an international audience at a time when the Iranian nuclear deal with world powers faces ratification amid strong Israeli opposition.
Rouhani posted a similar Rosh Hashanah greeting in 2013, shortly after he took office. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who acted as Iran’s lead negotiator in recent nuclear talks, has sent similar messages in recent years.
Iran’s Jewish community dates back nearly 3,000 years. Many Iranian Jews fled the country after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but an estimated 20,000 native-born Jews remain in Iran. They are permitted to operate shuls and a Jewish school and, according to reports, exist safely.
Tensions with Iranian Jews grew under former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who repeatedly called the Holocaust “a myth” and even sponsored an international conference in 2006 to debate whether the Holocaust ever really took place. Then-Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi once accused Jews as a whole of being criminals.
Since Hassan Rouhani took office, his government has agreed to allow Jewish schools to be closed on Shabbos.
Rouhani also allocated the equivalent of $400,000 to a Jewish charity hospital in Tehran and invited the country’s only Jewish lawmaker to accompany him to the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2013.
However Iran does not yet recognize Israel and supports terror groups like Hamas and Hizbullah.