Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Jew-friendly or antisemitic? The two faces of Iran

Moment magazine (December 2006) has a feature on the two contradictory faces Iran has historically shown towards its Jews - one Jew-friendly, the other antisemitic. (With thanks: Albert)

"Abdol Hossein Sardari didn’t look like a hero. But when Paris fell to Hitler in June 1940, the 30-year-old Muslim—a dapper man with a receding hairline—took it upon himself to save Jews trapped inside Nazi-occupied France. Sardari, a junior official at the Iranian Embassy, had been left behind to look after the building when the Iranian ambassador and his staff abandoned Paris to establish residence in Vichy, the new home of France’s pro-Nazi government. Once the Nazis began rounding up Jews, Sardari, without authorization from his government, made liberal use of the embassy’s supply of blank Iranian passports to assign new, non-Jewish identities to those in need, creating his own version of Schindler’s list.

"Ibrahim Morady, who died this past June in Los Angeles at the age of 95, was one of the hundreds of Jews Sardari helped spare from deportation. “My father moved to Paris from Persia when he was six,” recounts his son Fred. Once Morady, a well-to-do rug merchant, had his new identity, he and two colleagues arranged to purchase false papers for about 100 other Jews of Iranian descent. Sardari served as their go-between, passing a bribe to a German official. In return, these Jews were given documents asserting that they were members of “some strange tribe in Iran—Djouguti, or something like that,” Fred Morady explains. “I asked my father: ‘What does this name mean?’ And he said: ‘They just made it up.’”

"Sardari was not the only Iranian to protect Jews during World War II. The Iranian government itself kept its 3,000-year-old Jewish community out of Nazi reach. But his heroism is representative of Iran’s civilized and empathetic attitude toward its Jews.

"This attitude stands in marked contrast to the vitriolic Islamic Republic of Iran led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that we hear and read about today. The world was stunned when Ahmadinejad, the former mayor of Tehran, felled an Iranian political giant—Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani—in the 2005 presidential election. Ahmadinejad, a radically conservative veteran of the Revolutionary Guards, an arm of the country’s Islamic establishment, quickly became a confrontational presence. Standing aside a banner that read “The World Without Zionism,” he whipped up a crowd of 4,000 students at an October 2005 conference in Tehran. “Our dear Imam ordered that the occupying regime in Al Quds be wiped off the face of the earth,” Ahmadinejad declared, referring to the late Ayatollah Khomeini and using the Arabic name for Jerusalem. “Anyone who would recognize this state has put his signature under the defeat of the Islamic world.”

"The president also garnered world headlines when he publicly pronounced the Holocaust a “myth.” He has since slightly toned down his rhetoric, questioning why, if the Holocaust happened, the Palestinians should suffer for it. “Under the pretext of protecting some of the survivors of the war, the land of Palestine was occupied through war, aggression and the displacement of millions of its inhabitants,” he told the United Nations General Assembly this September, ignoring the historic presence of Jews in Palestine.

"When it comes to the Jews, Abdol Hossein Sardari and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad represent the two faces of Iran. This Muslim, but not Arab, country that protected its Jews from the Holocaust now questions whether that genocide ever occurred. Once one of Israel’s closest Muslim allies, Iran now seeks to wipe the “Zionist entity” off the map. Tens of thousands of its Jews have left, yet Iran still retains the largest Jewish population of any Muslim country. "

Read article in full


Anonymous said...

It's no problem. I'll try to help your site whenever I can.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

check out the topics up for discussion at the upcoming conference vindicating the views of Shoah revisionists in Tehran:

bataween said...

Thanks for this, left but not antizionist. Horrendous!

Anonymous said...

You're welcome for the detestable link I sent Bataween.

While I rarely comment here, I have your blog bookmarked on my computer and have learned much from it for which I'm grateful to both you and Albert.

In March 07, I am planning to move to Israel and am looking for a place I can rent where I can meet someone fluent in Arabic that I hopefully can convince to tutor me in learning the language.

While I'm not yet fluent in Hebrew, I can get by more or less as I was educated from primary school through grade nine at a Talmud Torah day school that divided the day into both Hebrew spoken and English classes and then did high school in Israel back in the late 1970's. I haven't been back to Israel since 1981.

Anyways, one of my aspirations is to aquire at least some proficiency in both Hebrew and Arabic and that is one of the reasons I am returning to Israel next year. I believe I'll have much more opportunity to improve my Hebrew and begin to learn Arabic in Israel than in North America.

And while for Arabic, it undoubtedly would be better to study and practice the language in an Arab country, that isn't really an option for me, given my background, upbringing, my politics, my hostility to antisemitism and to the propagandistic and hyperbolic demonization and delegitimization of Israel's existence that exceeds all bounds of rational criticism and my need to be able to express myself without fear of reprisal.

If I can manage somehow to establish a home for myself in Israel and learn Arabic while improving my Hebrew, I hopefully someday will be able to express my thoughts in three languages, reach three audiences with my writing, translate material for others and maybe even incorporate all three
languages into the music I compose. I'm a fairly talented, semi-professional pianist.

I'm providing all this detail in case you might have connections in Israel with someone who'd be able to and might consider tutoring me privately in Arabic and who might be willing to exchange e-mail addresses with me before I arrive in March.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Take care and thanks for a great blog.

bataween said...

I wish you all the best with your future plans. I don't know anyone personally who could help you with Arabic, perhaps one of my readers here might. I suggest trying the universities - they all have good Arabic studies departments.
Kol Tuv