Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Iranian Jews

A fine piece in the New York Times on Saturday by Roya Hakakian, an Iranian Jew exiled in New York. Though the title is misleading, the recollection of growing up a Jew both in the Shah's Iran and after the so-called Islamic Revolution is both informative and touching. It will also surprise many people in this part of the world whose only knowledge of Iranian-Jewish relations is informed by the grotesque splutterings of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It also makes me think how naive people in the West are to be shocked at Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial; it is hardly terribly surprising that a religious fundamentalist, an ignorant ideological hoodlum whose view of civilisation is shared by barely half of his own country (if even) could utter nonsense that many Europeans with a pretention to rationality have already claimed before him. Israel is entitled to be concerned at the nuclear threat posed by Iran (though that sentence could just as easily be restated with the names of the two countries reversed) but casting Iran as an overwhelmingly anti-semitic country is unjustified and plain wrong.