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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


February 1, 2000

Frankly, I'm jealous!

This is a letter I wrote to an Iranian Jew in reply to a topic called "Why do Iranians hate Jews?"

Dear Moshe,

I enjoyed reading about Isfahan and the brief history of the Iranian Jewish community. When it comes to discrimination against minorities (Jews in particular) in Iran, I agree with you 100%. Often the unkown or a mystery creates prejudice. And often the unknown is translated into hatred. As they say, not knowing is the greatest fear. I think in regards to the Jewish community there are many unkowns for some of us non-Jewish Iranians which can be translated into an "anti-semitic" outlook. I hope by writing this letter I can express our sense of confusion with the Jewish community. I also hope that in writing you this letter, you won't confuse my questioning or curiosity with "prejudice" or an "anti-Semitic" attitude.

The majority of Muslim Iranians don't like minorities. They are called "najes". In fact some consider them "smelly"! Sounds funny, but it's true. For instance, when my mother was growing up in the province of Azarbaijan, she was told not to go out alone cause the Jews will kidnap her! That was some 50 to 55 years ago. On that same note, my classmate of four years in Iran was a Jewish girl who was never called a kidnapper because of her religious faith (or what you prefer to call her "race"). And no, she didn't have to wait outside during a rainy day because she was "najes". But I knew that she felt very uncomfortable in a Muslim school. She later on signed up in a local Hebrew school. That was 18 years ago.

Considering all the horrifying events against Jews, I can't imagine how they have survived to be so strong and influential in this world. Every other victimized race or nationality has suffered years, and in fact, centuries of crippling effects. And none has succeeded as the Jewish community world-wide. I don't have anything against Jews or non-Jews, but I can't help noticing the strength of the Jewish communities in regards to their global support system, powerful unity, both political and economical influences, and many other strengthening advancements among them. In fact, no other victimized ethnic group has been rewarded for their past anguish as the Jews have. Frankly, I'm jealous! Exactly which country in the world will offer anyone from anywhere in the world a citizenship because of his/her religious faith (or as you'd say, "race")?

No doubt that the Jewish community would have never grown to be as strong as they are today, if it wasn't for the unfailing devotion of their loyal peers. Seems to me that for Jews, Jews come first. Isn't that right? Excuse me if I am being insensitive, certainly the Jewish community is not under as bad of a fire as they were in WW II. Nor are they suffering the same agony as some other races do around the world. They are not as discriminated as the others are. Why are they still getting more attention than others?

Take Africans or the untouchables in India, for example. Will they ever received the same sympathy internationally as the Jews? And why not? Let's talk about some recent events, a smaller example: What about the 20 individuals arrested in Shiraz (13 of whom were Jewish) for supposedly spying for Israel or U.S. ["Harmful favoritism"]? Why did the 13 Jews get such an international attention and called the matter "a human rights issue in Iran"? What about the other six who are totally disregarded? And why not call it an arrest of "Jews and Muslims" or "the arrest of 20 Iranians"? It seems like the whole story is misrepresented in support of the Jews. The arrest of the Jews (plus six other Muslims) might be a propaganda against Jewish Iranians, even so, there are other non-Jewish lives at stake. What about all those who have unjustly died in the name of freedom for Iran (for the past two decades), and many more awaiting to be killed? Why is that less of a human rights issue than the imprisonment of the 13 Jews? Frankly, the human rights issue is becoming a bit discriminatory to me.

Please don't get me wrong by my line of questionings, I am happy to hear about the Jews getting that kind of attention. Maybe their arrest will turn few heads toward Iran. But still the question is why concentrate on Jews and not concentrate on the lack of human rights in Iran for any or all mankind?

I wonder if some people hate Jews because of their "possible" monopolistic powers or influences on others!?

Recently I watched a program on the U.S. TV news program 60 Minutes about an affluent Muslim couple (a college professor & a doctor), who have been trying to enter the political arena in U.S. by becoming a candidate for the House of Representatives or Ssenate or the city council (I am not sure which one). Anyhow, their efforts have been aggressively criticized and halted by a more influential community of Jews -- Since the couple believe in the rights of Palestinians and Lebanese, they are considered supportive of terrorism and a threat to U.S. society, should they become politically active! This couple had no ties to any terrorist groups and no criminal convictions. In fact they were known for their professionalism and excellent citizenship in their community. It was said in the program that there are a total of six million Jews in the U.S. and six million Arab citizens in U.S. But the social and political influence of the Jews in the U.S. supercedes the Arabs and all other minorities. Why is that? I mean, why do they have enough influence to knock others down? I hope writing this letter will not kill my chances of running in the political office someday.

Again, Moshe, do some people hate Jews because of their "possible" monopolistic powers or influences? I find it very natural for some non-Jews to at least question those powers and influences.

Saghi Zarinkalk


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