Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Life of Jews in Iran

Barbara Demick, writes for the Saphardic Community foundation:

It is one of the many paradoxes of the Islamic Republic of Iran that this most virulent anti-Israeli country supports by far the largest Jewish population of any Muslim country.

Tehran has 11 functioning synagogues, many of them with Hebrew schools. It has two kosher restaurants, and a Jewish hospital, an old-age home and a cemetery. There is a Jewish representative in the Iranian parliament. There is a Jewish library with 20,000 titles, its reading room decorated with a photograph of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
The wave of anti-Israeli sentiment that swept Iran during the revolution, as well as large-scale confiscations of private wealth, sent thousands of the more affluent Jews [and many non-jew affluent ones] fleeing to the United States or Israel. Those remaining lived in fear of pogroms, or massacres.

But Khomeini met with the Jewish community upon his return from exile in Paris and issued a ''fatwa'' decreeing that the Jews were to be protected. Similar edicts also protect Iran's tiny Christian minority. more

More about Persian Jews.

The Jewish member of Iranian Parliament
Also read on the Jewish Daily: Iranian Jews Reject Outside Calls to Leave.

... and here's a BBC report about the life and times of the Iranian Jews that may answer the concerns of those hwo think Iranians Jews cannot visit their family members in Israel.


Id it is said...

This was very informative. Who would imagine this to be a fact in the present day perspective that many people have on Iran. Commendable indeed.

nunya said...

I wouldn't want to live in a country where my religion was scruitinized. In other words, an non-secular country.

N. said...

I am an a-religious person myself. But I think people who want to practice a religion should not have to apologize for it.

In Iran, with the exception of Bahai's, no one's religion is scruitinized.

nunya said...

Bullshit. Every Iraninan immigrant I know left because Muslims really suck at allowing other people to practice their own religion in peace.

N. said...


Wouuld you be so kind to provide concrete examples about your statement? For example, how many Iranian immigrants you know? And what exactly did muslims DO about their practicing religion and etc.

While I am no fan of the Islamic republicanism, I do not subscribe to the blanket statement you just produced, not so politely.

I like to hear what exactly you think is bulshit here!

nunya said...

Have you ever lived in the US? People come here for all kinds of reasons. The most common complaint is discrimination in their country of origin.
The Iranians I know are B'hai, Sunni & Kurd, Grigorian (Christian), and Sufi. As much as they don't agree with most US foreign policies, they do NOT want to go back to Iran. None of them are wealthy here. Everyone in the US pays the same amount of taxes and in general, the wealthy pay someone to make sure they don't pay a lot in taxes. There are only special restrictions put on people who's health may affect the general public, like hepatitis infected foodservice workers, for instance.

Granted, Iran is more protective of their Jews, but they are isolated according to the article you posted. They can't visit family in Israel.

In the US you can choose to associate with whoever you want to. If you are isolated, it's not because you are different, because EVERYONE is different. I can count numerous countries of origin, languages, and religions just in my apartment complex. I like that. San Diego is a multi-national destination. People from all over the world visit, and many stay. The curse of nice weather, I guess.
However, I do not believe that the neocons have any right to try to change life in the Middle East. That is part of their grand (deluded) design. I don't believe you can deliver democracy at the end of a gun barrel. I do believe the Iranian people want democracy, and I believe they will achieve it, without any more "help" from Western countries.

In all honesty I may have some predjudice (caution with, anyway) Muslim men. I dated three of them, and they all dismissed my opinions as unimportant, and they all got "grabby" with me. There seemed to be some assumption among Muslim men that American women were sluts if they are not married and supporting themselves financially.

Who needs that?

N. said...

Thank you Nunya, this makes more sense now.

1) I am an immigrant myself.
2) Bahai's are strictly forbidden to practice their religion in public or to participate in ANY form of activit that may appear as they are promoting their religion. (This is a disgrace.)
3) The Jews are not isolated by force, they are isolated by the very same mechanisms that muslim fundamentalists may be isolated in the west. The minorities in Iran are isolated because of their slim numbers.
4) Israelis cannot visit family in Israel. Yes Iranian government is very vigilant about those who are in contact with Israel. They are presumed spies, unless proven otherwise. As such, they do pose strict security measures on people who visit Israel, but they don't prevent them from coming back to Iran either.
I do not see the point of comparing American society to Iranian. Iran is an ancient country. Us is not. People from all parts of the old world (like old Europe, old China) have come to the US in search of freedome. People come to the US because it doesn't bind them by tradition or antiquity. On the surface, People in the states are given fare and equal chance. In old soceities, social and class hierarchies are more prevalent. If you speak to Europeans from little villages, you would hear them cmplain about similar glass ceilings in their own country!

5) Iran is not a multi-national country; but it is a very multi-ethnic country. As long as you do not threaten the country's integrity, and a s long as you are not a secessionist, you are a free Kurd, Turk, Arab, Georgian, Jew, Bahai in Iran. I have lived with Bahai's; have gone to school with them, and have borrowed sugar from them in my neighborhood. I never cared about their religion, nor did they care about mine.

6) Your interaction with Muslim men ... I think you and your friends share a smilar prejuidice: they think American girls are sluts; you think muslim men are chauvenist pigs. I think both views are stereotypical. I believe, just as America doesn't make women int sluts; Islam doesn't make men into chauvenists.

But I tend to see male chavenism in all of the religions. Christianity is certainly not immune to it; and much of it is in fact inherited from Judaism: both by Islam and Christianity.

Now, what is there in Islam that would make me think the crrent practices are FALSE interpretations of Islam, and continuation f Judeo-Arab traditions that have dominated the Islamic culture?
The fact that:

The history of Early Islam, i.e. the rise of Mohammad, is rich of stries about the Women's strength, sacrifice and power:

Khadijeh, Mohammad's wife, a WEALTHY trader. The FIRST woman to become moslim.

Ayeshe, Mohammad's last wife (he had 8), she conducted a war.

FAtemeh, Mohammad's daughter and only child, the wife of Ali (the forth Khalife and the pilar of shiism) and the mother of all Shiite Imams.

Fatimeh has the same level of respect in the muslim world as virgim mary has in the Christian one (where are the female figures in Judaism?). Fatimah was borne in an environment, where giving birth to a child was a shame, so much so that many burried their daughters alive. Mohammad rose in such an environment and he brought to the beduin Arabs the message of equality for women, for (black) slaves(Balaal) and people of other races (Salaman Parsi (persian)).

I do not see anything chauvenist in that narrative. And this is the Islam that we are thought in Iran. And if we are people of religious minority, we don't even have to sit through such lessons! So I don't know what intlerance your Iranians friends complain about.

But as you rightly noted, it is the people of Iran, who live in Iran, who are CHANGING the society. We, the American-Iranian community, especally those of us who have not been back to Iran in recent years and whose knowledge of IRan is limited to the American propaganda, or to the American-paid voices of (the so called) Iranian resistance, are too far from the reality of daily life in Iran to be able to speak about it fairly.

That said, my voice "IS" heard in Iran! I am a woman! And I have earned men's ears!

nunya said...

Ok then. Here's a nifty little opinion formed from experience; the Muslims I dated were pigs. I don't even remember what country they were from.

Muslim fundamentalists isolate themselves in America, which I don't have a problem with because I can't stand fundamentalists. This is a secular society, supposedly. Sharia law is not secular. I have a problem with most religious fundamentalists (especially Christian ones because they have so much power in this society, but the idiot fundamentalists don't seem to understand that some of their activities are funded by OIL companies, and other large corporate interests) because every religious text on the planet urges the sheeple to BREED. The planet can only support so many people, and we are fast approaching the limit. My daughter finally understands why I tell her (constantly) "Don't make me a grandmother." She was in tears last week, reading her AP science class textbook. She said to me through her tears "Mom, do you know what it's going to be like in 40 years?"


Peak oil and global warming will only accelerate the race to the bottom. The US government has already begun the race to the bottom for the American people.

Maybe I should have been more clear. Does this help?

N. said...

Dear Nunya,

I too hate fundamentalism; and I too don't think divinity should be legislating us! If certain traditions from judaism, christianity, budhism, zoroasterianism, Baabism, Islam, "make common sense", within their own specific temporal/ cultural context, I can tolerate and have understanding for them.

Yes the course America is taking is worrying me; it is worrying me because America (whether we like it or not) is what aspires "freedom".

I think we need to take a look within and seek in us the traces of that which we hate most in the other.

I don't think the world will be coming to an end anytime soon. I believe in man's ability to change the course of history. If I try HARD to find that which is common between me and the fundamentalist, and I have to ask myself a question: What did I do in the position of power to drive people to religious radicalism?

You see, religious radicalism is not only Islam's problem nowadays. As you said, you can see how it is surging in the secular America as well. I hesitate to call people who think differently than me idiots. I think people have a REASON for believing/doing what they do. It roots in one's personal experience as you said, it roots on one's access to knowledge in another case.

I think it is more constrctive to tell people about what I know, than to beat them down about what they don't know. (the only people I do beat down for stpidity, are those who have every mmaterial, spiritual, financial, educational, intellectual means of KNOWING, but do not even bother to have an opinion)

Anyways, we agree on far more similar points than we disagree!

Sophia said...

I read yesterday somewhere, sorry I don't rememebr but if you do a search you will find it easily, that Persian Jews who emigrated to Israel are unhappy in Israel and worry the most about an attack on iran !

N. said...

Maybe you read about it here?

Sophia said...

I forget something, maybe Israel wants to attck Iran because Iran is a living example that Jews and Muslims can coexist and this is a bad example for zionist propaganda who thrives on the fears of jews worldwide being persecuted...

N. said...

Agree Sophia! Also, not to forget the stem cell research, th eparticipation of women in the government and tha parliament, the higher ratio of women with higher education, the birth control, the nationalized Oil industry, the industrail advancement in spite of 30 years of sanctions, and ...

nunya said...

My daughther's environmental science class doesn't teach that there is going to be an end to the world, but the planet, and especially the oceans are distressed. It is a direct result of human activity. If it's not in some ancient religous text (no description of the industrial revolution, which is feeding the massive amount of people on the planet) fundamentalists won't believe it.

Stupidity kills. Look at W. That dern Ivy League edumacacion dint do him no good, now did it? :)

Overpopulation kills, or starves kids that never should have been born.

I do think we agree more than we disagree.

Peace out.

allBlog said...

Hello Naj,

Mr. Maurice Motamed (member of the Iranian Parliament, representing the Jewish community) has also confirmed in a couple of interviews that Iranian Jews can indeed legally and freely travel to the Holy Land for visiting with the family, pilgrimage, doing business, seeking medical help, etc ...

This, despite of Iranian government (like many other governments in the Middle East) not having any official ties with the government of Israel.

mikewinsc said...

Want to read more on the subject, here is an interesting article about Why Striking Tehran is not the answer

Anonymous said...

This piece is informative but not accurate. The Jews living in Iran are not free to say what they believe...I know because I was one of them. Iran's Jews say whatever the regime tells them.

You should read this blog, it has lot of great articles about Iranian Jews in the U.S. and Iran:


Hamid Davoodi

Navid Ebrahimi said...
many of the articles there are written by iranian american EXILE jews who haven't been to their country for 3 decades
(i would know, because i've lived among them)
in reality their opinions arent much different from the rest of the iranian exiles in the west. wheter they be monarchist, mojahedin, or communist their info are mostly inaccurate and out of touch with the realities inside iran.
i guess thats the result of decades of exile in the west.