In 539 B.C. the Persians under Cyrus conquered the Babylonians. Cyrus liberated the Jews from their Babylonian captivity and allowed them to rebuild their temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus was referred to as a great savior in the Old Testament. That was a great moment in our ancient history. But we have come a long way since then and for the past few centuries Iran has abandoned these more tolerant and liberal traditions and adopted the anti-Semitism that has been prevalent in many other countries.
J.J. Benjamin a 19th century traveler to Persia wrote extensively about the mistreatment of Jews. “… They are forbidden to go out when it rains; for it is said the rain would wash dirt off them, which would sully the feet of the Mussulmans.” They no longer beat Jews who venture out of their homes in the rain, but the hatred and mistreatment continues.
I remember how as a young child I was killing some ants inside our home and our maid told me, in all seriousness, that I should spare the black ants because they are Muslim ants but the red ones are non-believers and Jews and should be killed. She would also tell me that the Jews were najes (unclean) and one should wash oneself thoroughly after touching one of them and to never eat or drink anything that a Jew has touched.
There were also stories about the Naane Fatir (unleavened bread) and how Jews kidnap Muslim children, kill them and use their blood to make this bread. The views of our maid were fairly common. I heard similar sentiments from many other people. The Jews were najes as surely as the sky was blue. This type of rabid anti-Semitism is quite wide spread in the region.
In March of this year Al-Riyadh, a leading Saudi newspaper widely regarded as the mouthpiece of the ruling family, published an article by Umayma al-Jalahma, a teacher at King Faisal University, claiming that “Jewish vampires” drain the blood of Muslims and Christians to mix it with holiday pastries on the religious feast of Purim after tormenting their victims by placing them in a barrel filled with needles.
The following are excerpts from an article by Fatma Abdallah Mahmoud titled “Accursed Forever and Ever,” which appeared also in March in the Egyptian government daily Al-Akhbar:
They are accursed in heaven and on earth. They are accursed from the day the human race was created and from the day their mothers bore them. They are accursed also because they murdered the Prophets. They murdered the Prophet John the Baptist and served up his head on a golden platter to the singer and dancer Salome.
These accursed ones are a catastrophe for the human race. They are the virus of the generation, doomed to a life of humiliation and wretchedness until Judgment Day. They are also accursed because they repeatedly tried to murder the Prophet Muhammad.
They threw a stone at him, but missed. Another time, they tried to mix poison in his food, but providence saved him from their treachery and their crimes. Thus, the Jews are accursed — the Jews of our time, those who preceded them and those who will come after them, if any Jews come after them.
I complain to Hitler, even saying to him from the bottom of my heart, “If only you had done it, brother, if only it had really happened, so that the world could sigh in relief [without] their evil and sin.”
Increasingly many European anti-Semitic myths find an enthusiastic audience in the Middle East “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” a notorious anti-Semitic forgery popularized by the Nazis, is a best seller in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.
I recall many political cartoons in Iranian newspapers that depicted the Israelis the exact same way the Nazis depicted the Jews. The Jewish octopus taking over the world, the greedy Jewish banker with money dripping out of its pockets, the Jewish vampire figure with blood dripping from its fangs. Referring to the US government as ZOG (Zionist Occupation Government), originally a neo-Nazi invention is now the habit of the Islamists.
The following passages are from the recent piece “Today, I am a Palestinian” by Ms. Sabety. It is not crude and blunt like the earlier Saudi and Egyptian examples. After all Ms. Sabety has benefited from an American higher education system. But her piece is an example of a more sophisticated and subtle form of anti-Semitism.
After witnessing Israel turn into Nazi Germany, over the many years and especially in the past few months, I stand here to tell you that for the first time in my life I agree with Khamenei and the Muslim hard liners on an issue. I do not consider the suicide bombers in Palestine terrorists — they are freedom fighters through and through. They are fighting to end an unjust occupation and as such cannot, in my book, be called terrorists. They are simply desperate…. [Israel] has lost its soul to the myth of the need for self-preservation… I wish I had never become an American. They can take their freedoms and openness and opportunities, make me wear a chador any day, but do not kill innocent Muslim brothers and sisters, with my tax money, in the name of Israel! I think all of us Middle-Easterners with American citizenship should collectively burn our passports as an act of symbolic protest. Or better yet collectively refuse to pay taxes.?
Israel turn into Nazi Germany? It is an absolutely wrong comparison, but not accidental. The Israelis are often equated with the Nazis by many of their anti-Semitic enemies. They must know how utterly hurtful that must be to the Jews, many of whom lost family members in the holocaust.
Nazis systematically gathered, starved, gassed and burned 6 million Jews in their effort to erase them from the humanity. Israel on the other hand, despite having enough nuclear bombs to wipe out every major Arab city in the world, has only reacted defensively.
Let's assume Israel had not destroyed the Iraqi nuclear plant at the beginning of Iran/Iraq war and Iraq had gone on to develop its nuclear bombs, does anyone think that Sadam would have spared the Iranians the same way Israel has spared its Arab enemies?
“I do not consider the suicide bombers in Palestine terrorists — they are freedom fighters through and through… They are simply desperate…”
Suicide murderers/bombers are not freedom fighters. The very organizations they come from, Hamas, Al Aqsa Brigade, Islamic Jihadd and Hizbullah are against freedom altogether. They want an Islamic state based on Sharia. There is no room for freedom in that type of state. That should not be news to anyone. Furthermore there is no connection between willingness to sacrifice oneself and having a just cause.
And the fact that the suicide/murderer feels desperate does not make him righteous. The Kamikaze suicide dive-bombers were defending a murderous genocidal regime in a desperate state. The 9/11 hijackers were desperate to drive the infidel Americans from the holly land of Saudi Arabia. Even the Columbine high school suicide/murderers must have felt desperate against the school bullies.
She also says:
“[Israel] has lost its soul to the myth of the need for self-preservation.”
Need for self-preservation is not a myth. It is an absolute reality. That is why every country in the world has police and armed forces. Anyone with the slightest understanding of history knows that. Israel has had to defend itself in 4 major wars and has suffered relentless terrorist attacks.
The anti-Semitism becomes evident when we see the different standards that Israel is held to. Israel must prove it has done absolutely everything to avoid every civilian death, when we know that the Palestinian bombers systematically and consistently target civilians. Passover dinners, Bar mitzvahs, weddings, bus stops and grocery stores are all considered legitimate targets by the suicide/murderers .
“I wish I had never become an American. They can take their freedoms and openness and opportunities, make me wear a chador any day, but do not kill innocent Muslim brothers and sisters, with my tax money, in the name of Israel! I think all of us Middle-Easterners with American citizenship should collectively burn our passports as an act of symbolic protest. Or better yet collectively refuse to pay taxes.”
Let's give the author the benefit of the doubt and assume she is sincere. (Actually I don't think she is. There are no laws that compel her to stay here, but I don't think she will go to Iran to put on a chador and avoid paying the U.S. income tax. She will stay here , pay the tax and enjoy the “freedoms and openness and opportunities”.) In that case she is willing to condemn millions of Iranians to be ruled by the murderous regime of the mullahs. The regime that has resulted in death, imprisonment and misery of our compatriots in numbers that far exceed the number of Palestinians ever in existence.
The Anti-Semitism is so strong in many Iranian/Americans that it outweighs their love for Iran as well as the U.S., the country that accepted us and gave us refuge and offered us its opportunities and freedoms. They don't mind that Palestinians danced and celebrated the massacre of thousands of innocent Americans.
The death of suicide/murderers outrages them more than the death of their own innocent countrymen and women. We have had tens of thousands of political prisoners executed, and even more imprisoned but it was by our “Muslim brothers”. They plunder our country to the point of its utter economic ruin, but the thieves are our “Muslim brothers”. They stone our women but they are our “Muslim brothers”.
These people defend the Palestinian “Muslim brothers” even when they start a war because winning 97% of the territories in negotiations is not enough. In their eyes the “Muslim brothers” are desperate and they have a right to go on killing hundreds of innocent civilians who are not our “Muslim brothers”. Thank god for our “Muslim brothers”.