Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Roger Cohen has it wrong on the Jews of Iran

The NYT's Roger Cohen gets a hammering from Richard Chesnoff in the Jewish World Review for his ill-conceived piece (also printed in the IHT) on the Jews of Iran 'living the life of Reza'. The truth, as with the remaining Jews of Iraq whom Chesnoff met in 1990, is very different (with thanks: Tom Gross):

"Ever notice how often the reputedly astute prove amazingly naive if not downright dumb? Take the New York Times' much lauded op-ed columnist Roger Cohen.

" In a long rambling piece datelined Esfahan, Iran, wandering analyst Cohen recently told his global readers that the remnant of Iran's once thriving Jewish community is doing just fine — in fact, it's actually living the life of Reza side by side with Islamists, enjoying freedom of worship, business and family life and just dying to join other patriotic Iranians in angry anti-Israel street demonstrations.

"To back up his contentions, Mr Cohen quotes that esteemed expert Morris Motamed, the man who once served as the mullah endorsed Jewish stooge in Tehran's rubber stamp parliament.

" It all reminded me of my 1990 Baghdad visit to the remnant of Iraqi Jewry — a Diaspora community older and once larger than even Iran's. Like most Iranian Jews, the vast majority of Iraq's 150,000 Musawi or ""Mosaics" wisely fled for Israel and the West in the early 1950s. Of course, they had to leave behind everything they owned. By the time I visited Baghdad, there were less than 300 Jews left in a city where Jews once comprised 25% of the urban population. These Jews also prayed in their synagogue on the Sabbath where their community president told me with great flourish (while Saddam Hussein's omnipresent agents listened to every word) that he and his fellow worshippers were "proud to be both faithful Jews and loyal Iraqi patriots".

" The truth was very different — as it is in Iran where the Jewish community is under constant surveillance, where teaching Hebrew is prohibited, where Jewish women are forced to follow the same modesty laws their Muslim sisters do, where Jews are barred from certain jobs and some imprisoned or hung on trumped up charges of contact with "Zionists".

" Another journalistic sin of Mr Cohen's piece was his insistence to use Iran's supposed tolerant treatment of its remaining Jews as an excuse to take another of his nasty jabs at Israel. After all, Cohen tells us, perhaps Iran's threats to destroy the Jewish state are merely a "provocation to focus people on Israel's bomb, its 41 year occupation of the West Bank, its Hamas denial, its repetitive use of overwhelming force."

"He then goes on to ignore the hard fact that Iran is behind Hamas as well as Hezbollah and most of the terrorism that currently confronts Israel , the very terrorism that frequently obliges Jerusalem to invoke its "overwhelming force".

Read article in full


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

The "reflections" of Rabbi Gottlieb are in the same vein as Cohen's - a naive apology for Iran.

Both Cohen and Gottlieb are morally reprehensible, since they are helping Iran:
1. Continue to repress Jews.
2. Deny the millennia-long history of dhimmitude.
3. Burnish Iran's international reputation so it can more easily attempt to eliminate Israel.

In my opinion, the Jewish community should ostracise Cohen and Gottlieb.