In his essay on “Iranians and Anti-Semitism,” Ghassem Namazi prevails the idea that both the current regime of elitist Mullahs in Iran and the Iranian people harbor anti-Semitism. To say over and over again that the current Iranian government is anti-Semitic is to necessarily expose the ugly hatred of a useless, unelected regime who pretends to be the choice of the people. But to say that all Iranians are anti-Semitic is a gross generalization that insults the face of a nation in a severe blow. In short Mr. Namazi — how dare you!
Anti-Semitism is a disease that has reared its ugly head in every country, in every corner of the world, including Iran but there are important distinctions to be made.
The early anti-Semitic behavior of Europe resulted in the expulsion of Jews from various European countries, and their latest hatred lead to the annihilation of six million innocent lives during WWII. Let me repeat that number, six million people, including children, women, men, grandmothers, and grandfathers were degraded to a status below that of animals in Nazi concentration camps, then they were gassed in chambers and their emaciated bodies were fed into ovens. The latter was the result of virulent European anti-Semitism.
Let me remind the reader that the Nazis who ordered these acts were educated tyrants, they knew what they were doing, and they knew what they were doing was wrong, and they still continued.
In Iran, however, anti-Semitism exists in a completely different form. It is essentially an Arab import together with harsh enactments of Islamic law that serve to distinguish, and degrade Jews in an attempt to make their lives difficult, and force them to convert. To this day, remnants of those treatments, exist as insults. These insults, the derogatory terms, “Johoud,” and “Najes,” both implying unclean in Farsi exist in the language of the ignorant, and the vengeful.
But to say that this ignorance spreads to the whole of the Iranian population is absolutely false. For this language is readily and openly condemned by educated Iranians who not only see their Jews as an amazing group of Iranians whose history precedes that of Islam, but also as individuals who have survived and succeeded despite all odds.
Let us also not forget that Persian Judaica is intertwined within our culture — whether we are Jews or non-Jews. Iran was and is the land of Queen Esther, Mordecai, and Daniel. On Friday Shabbat, in Isfahan, when Iranian Muslims light candles, they light them in memory of their Jewish ancestors. We are a connected people despite the attempts of the vengeful who seek to solidify the lines of division. The Iranian agenda has always been clear, we are Iranians, equals always, who also seek to define our individual relationship to the religions of the land.
In conclusion, Ahmadinejad's government and his hateful attitude toward the Jews does not represent the Iranian people, but it does remind us that bigots exist in Iran as they do everywhere. And in the future, when a democratic,liberated Iran is in power; Iran will finally rise like the Phoenix from the ashes of bigotry and acknowledge its loyal citizens, the Jews, the Christians, the Zoroastrians and the Bahais.