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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


July 7, 2000

Why is it disturbing?

I don't dispute that Jews can be spies ["Let's face it"]. Jews, as well as Moslems and Christians have spied in Iranian history at times and spying is never justifiable. But, what is disturbing about the trial of Jews in Iran is whether they can get a fair hearing.

Most people blame Iran's current system of justice as unfair and unjust and even dictatorial. But, the problem goes beyond the justice system. The legal and justice system in Iran is only a reflection of a culture that tends to see in people such absolutes as good or bad, right or wrong, angel or evil. The natural consequence of such a polarized thinking is to see no options other than elimination, punishment, and execution. This form of absolute thinking and behavior is then viewed and justified as "justice."

To be sure, Islamic mollas are not the only ones who practice this "cultural good." The leftists, monarchists, Mojahedin-e Khalgh, and even some reformists follow the same logic. The dominant discourse and mentality among many Iranians of various backgrounds is to find the right and wrong, good and bad, angel and evil in order to act for or against them. And, some know well how to do it zealously.

This "self-assured" discourse and "executionist" way of thinking exists among many Iranians living in Iran, but also among many Iranians living in democracies of the West. The leftists' discourse and treatment of Iran's reformists at the Berlin Conference earlier this year is a good example. Other examples can be seen in the form and content of some petitions launched by individuals and groups, last year, advocating students' uprising in Iran and virtually issuing death sentences against President Khatami and other reformists.

Given our culture, should we be surprised if Iranian Jews accused of spying for Israel don't get a fair trial? In the absence of a self-reflective discourse and a deliberating mode of thought process, we should not wonder why Iranian Jews are on trial: we should wonder why we are not!

Poopak Taati
Washington DC


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