Friday, May 04, 2007

Amir Taheri on Israel and the Jews of Iran

The prominent Iranian-American journalist Amir Taheri has many interesting things to say in this interview with the Jerusalem Post's Ruthie Blum. In the following extracts, Taheri talks about the Jews of Iran, and exhorts Israel to be 'less Western and more Middle Eastern' in asserting its legitimacy.

Q:Whenever we try to employ "Arab" tactics - or even express a certain kind of nationalism or patriotism characteristic of the Arabs - we end up in an internal battle. So, in our democracy we are not only unable to fight our enemies the way they fight us, but we are even unable to develop the sense of our own legitimacy to the extent that, say, the Palestinians have developed it.

Yes, because again you have adopted more from the Western world; you have become more Westernized than is good for you. (...)

Q: Isn't the fact that we "have adopted more from the Western world" the reason we have a booming economy - as well as so many "gloomy" intellectuals? How would Israel look if it imitated its neighbors and not the United States?

Well, I don't want you to imitate your neighbors entirely, but rather to learn aspects from them. Israel, first and foremost, must be very Israeli, otherwise it's useless. It must be very Jewish, as well - otherwise, what's the point of it? So, the idea of having a cosmopolitan, Western, democratic, pluralist, hi-tech society, as such, is useless. I mean, you could have this anywhere in the world. The important thing is that the Israelis should not lose touch with their mythology, with their narrative. But, above all, they can't afford the luxury of self-loathing. You know, the Westerners can do that "we-are-guilty-everything-is-our-fault" routine. You are too small for this kind of luxury.


Q: If Israel attacks Iran, will the Jews there be in a lot of trouble?

The Jews in Iran are already in a lot of trouble. They can't live normal lives there, just the way nobody there can. The difference between the Jews in Iran (I prefer to call them "Iranian Jews," because they have always been there; they didn't come from somewhere else, like the Jews in Europe) and those in other countries is that Iran is the only country outside of Israel where there are Jews in all walks of life. You have Jewish peasants, Jewish taxi drivers, Jewish factory workers. In Iran, the Jews are not all violinists or bankers or lawyers. They are Iranians. All of them have Iranian names; they have Iranian ancestry; they have their own holy places. And they are in trouble, not because they're Jews. They're in trouble because they're Iranians.

Q:Yet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has placed focus on the Jews by denying the Holocaust and by threatening to wipe Israel off the map.

The reason for this is that there are two Irans, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You have Iran as an expression of the Islamic Revolution, and you have Iran as a nation-state. As a nation-state, Iran has no basis for enmity with Israel. The two countries are not fighting over borders or access to markets or natural resources.

But Iran as an expression of the Islamic Revolution must hate Israel and vow to destroy it.

Read the whole thing!

1 comment:

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