Amid a global exchange of greetings and good wishes to mark Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish new year — there was one from a particularly surprising quarter.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted, “As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah.” A picture of an Iranian Jew praying at a synagogue in Tehran accompanied the tweet.
According to a 2012 census, there are fewer than 9,000 Jews among Iran’s population of about 75 million.
The message from Rouhani was unexpected in Israel, which has identified Iran as a huge threat to its security. It says the regime is developing a nuclear weapons program that could be used to annihilate the Jewish state.
Rouhani, who was elected in June, has pledged to tone down the “hate rhetoric” used by his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.