Monday, May 22, 2006

'The Independent' discovers Iranian Jews

This article by Angus McDowell in the left-leaning Independent does not attempt to whitewash the situation of Iranian Jews, but still uses the euphemism 'emigration' to describe their post-revolutionary flight.

"At more than 20,000, Iran remains home to the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel, despite post-revolutionary emigration that saw tens of thousands leave. Those who remain say emigration has slowed and those who have stayed are unlikely to change their minds.

"Sapir Hospital is a venerable institution of Iranian Jewish life. Founded 60 years ago as a charitable body, it provides free and heavily subsidised care for people in its working class neighbourhood. In some ways, it continues a medical tradition in which Jewish physicians have been celebrated in Iran for centuries. Only a few staff are Jews - most Jewish doctors in Tehran run their own practices - but it is funded by Jewish donations.(...)

"This President has shown his extremism in all respects," the man in the butcher's said. "Some people think it doesn't apply to them because he's talking about Jews outside Iran. But a Jew is always a Jew."

"Iranian Jews have learnt the hard way that they must publicly renounce any connection to Israel or Zionism. In the first days after the revolution, several Jews were executed on charges of Zionism and relations with Israel. Since then, spokesmen for the community have protested their antipathy to Israel.

"Most of those spoken to professed their fundamentally Iranian nature, something they say would make it difficult for them to live as émigrés abroad. "Iranian Jews have been good Iranians for 2,700 years," Dr Morsatheghi says. "I can speak in English, but I only think in Persian. This is my language and my native culture. I'm not going to leave."

Read article in full

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