Friday, December 30, 2005

A Reply to Jewish Telegraph Agency

An ill researched article appeared in the Jewish Telegraph Agency by Edwin Black:

The article also appeared in the Jewish Times but thankfully it appears it has been withdrawn.
(I hope I am correct in assuming this) Nevertheless the article still appears on the Jewish Telegraph Agency website.

The article carries ignorant statements such as :
So intense was the shah's identification with the Third Reich that in 1935 he renamed his ancient country "Iran," which in Farsi means Aryan and refers to the Proto-Indo-European lineage that Nazi racial theorists and Persian ethnologists cherished..."

Perhaps, Edwin Black, who should be writing children's book instead, should have bothered to read some of Iran's rich literature and relaised that Iran has always been called Iran by Iranians. The Book of Kings written by Ferdowsi 1000 years ago, is just one example from thousands, that refers to our country as Iran. Was Ferdowsi, therefore, a Third Reich supporter according to Mr. Black??

I am mostly disappointed with our Iranian Jewish compatriots however who have not pointed out to JTA the errors of their judgement in publishing Edwin Black's badly researched article. Most Iranian Jews I know are some of the most patriotic Iranians I have ever come across.

To anyone who doubts how well our Jewish compatriots were treated by the Pahlavi dynasty, let me quote some relevant extracts from a letter written by Cyrus Kadivar in response to another article :

"During his reign [ Mohammad Reza Shah], school children were taught the story of the liberation of the Jewish people in Babylonia by King Cyrus in 538 B.C. The Jews may have suffered under the Qajar shahs but neither of the Pahlavis (Reza Shah nor his son) can be accused of mistreating them. There were no pogroms and state-sponsored acts of anti-Semitism nor the burnings of synagogues or the banning of Jews from public life.

Even during WWII (shortly before the Allied Invasion of Iran on the false pretext that Reza Shah was pro-German) an Iranian diplomat in Paris was ordered to issue passports to French Jews escaping Vichy persecution. After the Holocaust many Jews were given homes and citizenship in Iran. Like all minorities in Iran, the Jews in Pahlavi Iran were allowed representatives in the Majlis (Lotfollah Hay served in parliament from 1967-1975 and was a leading industrialist) and even served in the armed forces and state ministries.

In fact, their contribution to the arts, wine-making, science, law, medicine, education and music industry in Iran is a well-documented fact in Esther’s Children published in 2002 by The Center For Iranian Jewish Oral History and edited by Houman Sarshar.

Another Jewish Iranian, Manuchehr Bibian established the Appollon Music Company – the country’s most advanced music recording and production studio of its time – and with it revolutionized Iran’s music recording industry.

Jews such as Iraj Lalehzari were members of Iran’s Royal Academy under Empress Farah’s direction. There were Jewish schools, active social and cultural organizations, and some thirty places of worship in Tehran alone. Hebrew classes were taught openly and Israelis were invited to lecture and speak at seminars. Before his fall, the Shah maintained cordial relations with Tel Aviv whilst calling for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yes, under the last Shah, Iranian Jews enjoyed all the social liberties granted to fellow Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians and Bahais.

The Khomeini revolution was a disaster for Iran’s Jews. The Ayatollah accused them of “distorting Islam, mistranslating the Koran, and taking over the Iranian economy”. In smaller cities and towns, Jews were bullied by their Muslim neighbours and anti-Jewish leaflets were distributed in the bazaars to boycott their businesses. In the months following the Shah’s dethronement, the turban-headed mullahs executed a wealthy Jewish industrialist by the name of Habib Elghanian. In 1981 the revolutionary guards (in which Ahmadinejad once served) shot Simon Farzami, a prominent and brilliant Iranian journalist and writer. The reason? He was a Jew!

As a result of the Islamic revolution, half of Iran’s 40,000 Jews fled or emigrated to Israel and the West. Many have remained loyal to the old country (some still hang portraits of Iran’s deposed royal family and the imperial flag in their homes) despite adjusting to life in new lands. Their exodus deprived Iran of centuries of wealth and talent, but more significantly a cultural heritage that had been entwined with the glory that was once Persia. "

Let me also add that Iran was one of the few countries in the Middle East which did not boycott Israel in sporting competitions. I myself remember with much fondness watching many of the exciting Iran v Israel football competitions as a child. I remember with much fondness the Nowrooz (Iranian New Year) visits to our Jewish neighbour and how I looked forward to opening up my delicately wrapped presents from our Jewish neighbour's wife, who would wave the present in front of me and say "what has uncle Nowrooz got for our little Potk?". And I can not forget the joys of stuffing my face with the delicious cakes we always found in their house.

I hope the Iranian Jews who have a 2500 years bond with the Iranian culture and the Iranian land and cherish their Iranian heritage so much, will also make Edwin Black realise how wrong he is!


Ardeshir Dolat said...

دوستان عزيز و هموطنان گرامي
دلارا دختر 19 ساله ايراني كه هنگام جرمي كه به او وصله شده فقط 17 سال داشت محكوم به اعدام شده است. تا كي ما مي خواهيم هر چه كه اين دم و دستگاه فاسد و پر از رشوه و فاقد صلاحيت رژيم اسلامي به ما مي گويد باور كنيم؟ شما چطور مي توانيد رژيمي كه خود ميدانيد تا چه اندازه فاقد صلاحيت در هر مورد است را در مورد حكم دادگاه هايش كه از بيخ فاسدند را بدون كمترين اعتراضي قبول كنيد؟ خواهران و برادران و دوستان و هموطنان ما را به راحتي به قتل مي رسانند وما هيچ نمي گوييم. بياييد تا اين دستگاه رعب و وحشت رژيم را با حمايت و فشار هاي بين المللي از كار بياندازيم تا با ترس كمتري بتوانيم در مقابل اين رژيم فساد و ضد زن و ضد جوان و ضد بشري بايستيم و مقاومت كنيم.

دوستان اين شايد براي شما كه بسياري از اين گونه اعدام ها را ديده ايد و يا در موردش خوانده ايد يكي ديگر باشد و فردا همه بكار خويش برويد واين يكي هم بد ست فراموشي سپرده شود. اما وجدان خود را چه گونه مي خواهيد آرامش دهيد وقتي مي دانيد كه اين رژيم هموطنان ما را هرگاه كه بخواهد به راحتي جرم هاي بي پايه و بي اساس به آنها مي بندد و به قتل مي رساند؟
پس بياييد و از اين به بعد در مقابل حكم هاي اعدام هموطنانمان ولو اينكه به حكم فاقد صلاحيت رژيم مجرم شناخته شوند اعتراض كنيم.

لطفآ متني را در اين مورد در وبلاگتان قرار دهيد و مرا آگاه كنيد تابا يك حمايت گسترده در اين رابطه براي نجات جان دلاراي احتمالآ بيگناه قدمي مثبت بداشته باشيم. من متني را به انگليسي نوشته ام كه شما- اگر مي خواهيد- مي توانيد در وبلاگتان قرار بدهيد.

موفق باشيد

دوستار شما و دوستار حقوق بشر


Delaraa Darabi, a 19 year young Iranian girl, is sentenced to death by hanging by the Islamic regime’s incompetent courts. She was only 17 at the time of her alleged crime. However, her conviction may well be unsafe and doubtful as at the time, she was led to believe, by her boyfriend and an accomplice, that if she falsely confessed to the killing she would not be sentenced to death as she was under aged and they would both escape the death penalty. We appeal to the international organisations around the globe to intervene to stop this illegal state killing of Delaraa and at least demand a proper retrial of her case in which the entire evidence against her can be properly scrutinised by an experienced advocate and in the event of her being found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, her sentence be replaced with a lesser punishment. Needless to say that the death penalty against persons who committed their crime when under 18 is against the United Nations International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Iran signed that convention nearly 14 years ago and has ratified it.

Anonymous said...

I think you should take this reporter Kevin who is reporting from inside Iran this week. He is spewing propaganda against the Shah and portraying the Islamic regime as moderate and democratic.

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Anonymous said...

Dear Potkin,
Being Jewish does not liberate anyone of us Jews from possibility of being stupid and/or ignorant.
For example, do you consider Noam Chomsky or prof. Finkelstein as wise men? I do not, and so do you in all likelihood. Yet they both are Jewish (and simultaneously self-haters).
Those of us who aren't stupid know very well to distinguish between what's Iranian and what's Islamic, whatis healthily nationalistic and what's a delirious pseudo-Aryan claim of Fritzes.
Best wishes to all the Iranians who have liberated themselves from the Islamic Matrix.

Azarmehr said...

Of course I expect good and bad, stupid and clever in every race and creed. However my expectations are from those Jewish Iranians who gained so much socially and otherwise from the Pahlavi era to reply to the article in the Jewish Telegraph Agency.
I have written to JTA and they have not even had the decency to reply to me. Perhaps they will reply to one of their own.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I read your reply to the Jewish Telegraph Agency a while ago. Although they seem to have removed the article, I was surprised to see the very same article recently on the SFGate website.