Indeed, in my view, only when you have watched this painful film should you be permitted to have an opinion on how useful, sane or morally acceptable it is to even discuss bombing Iran rather than seeking a diplomatic end to the over-hyped stand-off about its desire for a nuclear capability.
The comments yesterday of Israelis who saw A Separation and told an AP reporter they were surprised that Iranians had fridges and washing machines were saddening, and revealing. But hardly surprising when you think about how Iran and Iranians are generally characterised in Western discourse. Our mental images of the country involve fearsome black-clad women or angry men chanting “Death to America”. Words like “mullahs” (you barely need the prefix “mad” any more), “hardliners” and “threat” are usually linked in the same sentence. A news report about Iran not containing the words “nuclear ambitions”, “nuclear scientists” and “terror” seems unimaginable.
Iran has become more of a concept, a frightening idea, than a set of people with a proud civilisation, a turbulent modern history, and a legitimate viewpoint or even humanity. And, of course, you can only convince yourself that it is morally legitimate to bomb other people – don’t kid ourselves that Iran’s nuclear sites could be destroyed without also bombing a great many Iranian women, men and children – when you have dehumanised them or reduced them to caricatures of evil. The enemy.