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Mullah Morality: Tales (Tails?) of Binx and Jahandir



Gerald A. Honigman 

2005/07/31 

For the record, Iranians and Jews were not always enemies.

There are literally thousands of years of history which tie these peoples together. The Book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible (which the Jewish holiday of Purim is based upon) gets into some of this complex relationship, but there are other sources--Iranian included--as well.

While there were ups and downs throughout the millennia (easy to explore these days via the Internet), a few examples are in order...especially given the current poisoned atmosphere in which a would-be nuclear Iran declares that Israel has no right to exist, openly admits that the Jew of the Nations is its primary target, and sponsors organizations like Hizbullah and Hamas which share its goals.

After the Jews were taken into Babylonian captivity by Nebochadnezzar, it was Cyrus the Great of Iran ("Persia") who allowed their return in 539 B.C.E. to the very land which the mullahs claim that they have no rights to today. Indeed, the fate of the Jews in Iran itself frequently--especially in the Islamic age after the 7th century C.E--often depended upon a balance of power between the ruling Shah and the religious establishment. This would get modern Israel in trouble as well, as it had close relations with the Pahlavi dynasty.

Returning to Cyrus for a moment, take a look at this ancient quote from an Iranian source, The Kurash Prism, courtesy of the Iran Chamber Society and other historical sites...

I am Kurash [ "Cyrus" ], King of the World, Great King, Legitimate King, King of Babilani, King of Kiengir and Akkade, King of the four rims of the earth, Son of Kanbujiya...I returned to these sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Kiengir and Akkade whom Nabonidus had brought into Babilani to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former temples, the places which make them happy.

Now, here's the Jews' own version of this in Ezra 1: 1-8 in the Hebrew Bible...

In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: "Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: "All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him! Let everyone who has survived, in whatever place he may have dwelt, be assisted by the people of that place with silver, gold, and goods, together with free will offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.'


When Cyrus died, he was succeeded by his son Cambyses (Kanbujiya) II, who stationed Jewish/Judean warriors at one of his three main fortresses, Elephantine, used to control Persian-conquered Egypt.

When the Jews took on the next would-be conqueror of the world, Rome, for their freedom and independence in the first and second centuries of the common era (costly wars, well-documented by the Roman historians themselves, which would eventually lead the Emperor Hadrian to rename Judaea, Syria Palaestina, after the Jews' historic enemies, the Philistines--a non-Semitic sea people from the Aegean or Eastern Mediterranean--in an attempt to stamp out Jewish hopes once and for all), support once again came from the Iranian East. And later, as Iranian armies were fighting the hated Byzantines on the eve of the rise of Muhammad and the Arab empires, tens of thousands of Jewish warriors were recorded as joining the fight.

So, given the above and much, much more of the story here untold, the murderous animosity which now dictates Iranian foreign policy towards Israel is indeed tragic. Yet, also given the above, there may be reason to hope that things will one day again change for the better. Remember, for example, the 10-year war not that long ago between Iranians and Iraqi Arabs. Such events have implications for regional politics and alliances...whether in Cyrus' day or today.

Coming out of the realm of dreams, however, we're currently faced with the harsh reality of an oil-enriched, powerful, mullah-dominated Iranian society in which Israel is constantly demonized.

Even among the opposition and enlightened youth, hypocrisy and double standards applied towards the Jew of the Nations are the dominant ideology.

While most, if not all, factions in Iran champion the twin causes of the creation of the Arabs' 22nd state/destruction of Israel, events in Iran itself, of late, are indeed revealing.

At least three major revolts are going on in Iran right now as this article is being written.

Iranian agents have assassinated Kurdish and Balochi leaders in attempts to squash any ideas of independence among these peoples. Additionally, in the oil-rich, Arab-dominated, southwestern province of Khuzestan, Iran has recently been violently suppressing renewed Arab hopes here as well. Arabs call that area Arabistan...Get the picture?

Given all of this, my thoughts turned to an encounter I was involved in quite some time ago. I'll share this soon, but first, please allow me to set the stage...

I guess it was my own fault.
My two elder daughters brought home a momma cat and two small kittens that they found late at night several months ago wandering on the road. Another kitten was spotted not far away which lost out in its chance meeting with a car. Who could say no to them?

The problem was that we already had three established cats. While we've had situations related to this involving our original two females, it was Binx, the young male, who (even though neutered) has really proven to be a pistol regarding the newcomers. And I have a suspicion that he began by first taking it out on me.

I kept a box in my bedroom closet with some important stuff in it. No problem until after our feline additions entered onto the scene. Not long after their arrival, Binx was caught in the act of leaving souvenirs, if you get my drift, in my box.

Not having much of a choice, I now had to gingerly weed through decades of materials I had saved. Funny what you'll find when you do this sort of thing.

Among the various correspondence I now reviewed was a letter from Jahandir, a half Persian fellow graduate student, who was commenting on a doctoral research paper I had written.

I liked Jahan, but we butted heads continuously. He's probably teaching at some university now. His politics regarding the Arab-Israeli dispute (too often a very important "litmus test" in Departments of Middle Eastern Studies and the like...that's why Dr. Daniel Pipes' Campus Watch was created years later) were far more acceptable to the powers that be than myself, so I'm sure he wasn't denied a Ph.D. dissertation advisor the way I was. I made the mistake of expecting that the same lenses would be used when scrutinizing Israel and the rest of the neighborhood in which it lives.

Knowing of the reputation regarding the tenured chief honcho in terms of anything having to do with Arab-Israeli politics, I had been assured by other professors that there would be someone else to work with when the time arrived to start my dissertation.

Imagine taking a graduate course on the Palestine Mandate and never hearing anything about the Cairo Conference, the original 1920 borders of post-World War I "Palestine," the separation of Transjordan from the latter in 1922, and so forth. Or hearing Hitler's buddy, the Mufti of Jerusalem, being idealized while Jewish nationalist leaders like Jabotinsky were painted as the real fascists. Or constantly being fed material sympathetic to Arab nationalist aspirations while ignoring the rights of everyone else in the region. The only time, for example, that Kurds were ever mentioned was when said professor (Carter Findley) made a mockery of their own aspirations upon reporting of his travels throughout southeastern Turkey. And forget about an assumed climate of academic freedom. Beware if you dared to disagree...as I would later find out the hard way. As is even more typical today, while Israel was constantly placed under the high power lens of academic scrutiny, the far more real and gruesome sins and stories of the Arab world were and are ignored. The Arab genocide of Black Africans in the Sudan, slavery in the Arab World, atrocities against Kurds, Berbers, Copts, kilab yahud "Jew dogs," and others as well were going on back then as they are today...but students would never know any of this coming out of the classroom.

That's where Jahandir again enters into the picture.

Constantly demonstrating on campus against the Zionist occupiers on the West Bank, sitting across from me in class, and the like, we finally had a long-brewing exchange. After Jahan had given me a critique of the work I had done on a doctoral research paper, I fired back with a shot between the eyes with something as timely and relevant to the discussion today as it was when we did battle a quarter century ago.

Prior to the Iranian nationalist era of the Pahlavi shahs, Iran's oil-rich Khuzestan province mentioned above had an Arab majority. In fact, it had largely been ruled by the Arab Sheikh of Mohammarah. Later, Arab chieftains had advocated the incorporation of "Arabistan" into Iraq. Undoubtedly, such memories played a role in Iraq's ill-fated decision to invade Iranian Khuzestan, sparking a long and costly war with Iran in the 1980s.

But, guess how the Iranians, so quick to criticize Israel (which has been trying hard to arrive at a truly fair compromise with the Arabs over such things as the West Bank), dealt with their own Arab (or Kurdish or Baluchi, etc.) problem?

Arabs were scattered, numerous Aryans were transferred from elsewhere into the strategic province, and any manifestations of Arab nationalism were (and still are) ruthlessly squashed by whatever means necessary...and with no United Nations' condemnations, trials in Geneva, or whatever. The latter seem to be saved almost exclusively for the Jews in their attempts to survive. Among other measures, serious thought was given by Iran to outlawing Arabic as a spoken tongue...shades of Iraqi and Syrian Arab and Turkish and Iranian past policies towards the Kurds.

The point to all of this is, of course, the blatant hypocrisy and double standards Jahan, the current Iranian rulers, and much of the rest of the world typically display in all of these matters regarding Arab-Israeli politics.

And, by the way, I never did get a response from Jahan.


As an Iranian I regret to see my countrymen have this irrational hatred of Israel. Iranians and the Jews have a long history of friendship. This animosity begins only after the Islamization of Iran. Sadly, many so called Iranian intellectuals continue their anti Israeli rhetoric even though they claim to have left Islam and fight against the Islamic regime. Frankly I do not understand this. I understand why as Muslims we were taught to hate the Jews, but why we should be anti Israel after leaving Islam? For that I have no answers. Is it that old habits die hard? Iran has been devastated, vilified, despised, envied, humiliated by Arabs but as far as I know no Iranian blood was ever shed by Jews. In the Iran-Iraq war the Palestinians took the side of Saddam. Despite that not just the Mullahs but even the so called Iranian intellectuals are decisively on the side of the Palestinians. 

I have to admit that Iranians have become very sick people. This sickness is eloquently described by Ardavan Bahrami.

Ali Sina 

Spare a thought for us -- first
Ebadi's wasted opportunity?

By Ardavan Bahrami
December 15, 2003
The Iranian

A few days ago I received an email from a friend whom I have never met in person but have been chatting and exchanging views with on Iranian current affairs.  The email contained a note from an Iranian gentleman/lady who had commented on Shirin Ebadi's Nobel Peace prize speech.

The note was most refreshing and above all extremely courageous.  Consequently, my journalistic conscience told me that such a fresh viewpoint should not be ignored. As I do not know this person nor does my friend, I have taken the liberty to use the note and expand it further, hoping many others could enjoy the comments.

To make it easier I shall call this person Hope!  Hope's note starts by saying,

"Shirin Ebadi's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance ceremony was a huge opportunity missed for all the Iranians who have suffered human rights abuses in the last 24 years of the Islamic dictatorship in Iran. The reason for this is non-other than what seems to be a genetic disease seen in a large number of older generation Iranians who forget the plight of their own people but prefer to take up the cause of others."

This is most distressing.  In the past years and particularly in recent events I have witnessed many Iranians who by large are indifferent and not involved in political issues have suddenly shown concerns on US war against terrorism by taking actions against the American administration's policies or even have had the audacity of joining groups or demonstrations in support of Palestinians!

Hope continues,

"1400 years ago a dispute broke up between two Arabs over a girl by the name of Orayneb. One Arab was the ruling Khalif and the other was the grandson of the Arab prophet. The two sides met each other in Karbala and in the usual Arab custom, killed as many of each other as they could, including the women and the children. Now most of the Arab world has forgotten the incident but many Iranians still mourn the event by beating themselves and cutting their foreheads open with daggers. Yet there is no such ceremony for any of our own heroes throughout 2500 years of history, which has produced many heroic figures. We have no national days to honour them; we have no ceremonies to commemorate them or to teach posterity about the values of putting Iran first and foremost. To give an analogy to a non-Iranian it is as if the Jewish people forgot the victims of holocaust and their own heroes and instead mourned the death of 72 German generals and soldiers at some insignificant battle. Laughable wouldn't you say?"

At this point in time when our students have been most courageous in their fight for democracy and secularism, one would have hoped that an internationally recognized lady such as Shirin Ebadi would have taken this unique opportunity and when the world media is focused on her speech to express her concerns for the lack of freedom, mass executions and the daily abuses of human right in our own country rather than broadcasting Islamic Republic's foreign policies regarding America's war against terror and Palestinians!  Hope's views on Ebadi's decision to forget her very own people whom she owes her Nobel Peace prize to; is extremely disheartening.

"And so it was in the same tradition that Shirin Ebadi, forgot about the plight of our own people, the massacre of political prisoners in September 1988, the virgin girls who were raped before facing Islamic execution squads to prevent them from entering heaven, the imprisoned students and activists, the forgotten war veterans who gave all they had to defend the motherland, the poverty of Iran's street children, the youth who have been publicly flogged, and instead what did she talk about? The Palestinians, and those incarcerated in Guantanamo bay!

As if there aren't enough people already who are signed up to their cause.

The older generation who got us in this mess with their extra strong revolutionary zeal are once again keeping us trapped in this Islamic dictatorship by putting our own people and our own future at the end of the queue.

Perhaps one day they will learn that charity begins at home. Let's free our own people first then worry about the terror suspects incarcerated at Guantanamo. Or as Iranians continuously chant in the street demos 'Let Palestine be, spare a thought for us first'."

Here I would like to address Mrs. Ebadi and tell her that as a Nobel laureate your duty is towards your own nation, which is going through the darkest period in her long history.  The Islamic regime has enough resources to waste on fighting for Palestinian causes, building schools and hospitals for the fanatics in Lebanon or Bosnia, or for that matter protecting every undemocratic ideology.  Today you can be the loudspeaker for all those Iranian women and men, young girls and boys who have lost their lives in Islamic prisons or are still suffering daily tortures.

It is an honour to have an Iranian as the winner of such respected prize, but if you today decide for whatever reason to side with this regime reformist or conservative, your will have no respect in future Iran among your very own compatriots.  Please do not waste the opportunity!

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

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