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Irrational fear
Whatever Israel's questionable practices against the Palestinians, Israel has never threatened Iran's territorial sovereignty

By H. M. Jalili
February 23, 2004

When Cyrus the Great freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity, he earned Iran highly regarded legacy and eternal pride. The great king proclaimed the "Rights of Nations" and allowed the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. He effectively recognized Jerusalem as a Jewish holy city.

Twenty-six centuries later, another Iranian king, this time a Muslim, paid homage to the Jews. Reza Shah Pahlavi visited a Synagogue and became the first Iranian king since Cyrus the Great to show deference to the Jews. He allowed all the religious minorities to leave the ghettos and enfranchised them into the society. Before the end of the century, however, a medieval-minded mullah changed the atmosphere in Iran.

Although Ayatollah Khomeini attacked Israel as the "Zionist occupying entity," his government bought weapons and traded war intelligence with Israel during the Iran-Iraq war. The relationship of the two non-Arab countries of the region was intricate. Israel's bombardment of Iraq's nuclear facilities during the ward saved the Iranians, the Kurds and the Israelis from Saddam's genocidal tendencies. During the war, many Palestinians volunteered to fight on the Iraqi side, in fact a number of them became POW's. For some Palestinians, Persians represented another regional rival to the Arabs.

After the war, however, the mullah regime became an opponent of the Oslo peace accord and continues to actively propagate against peace and Israel's existence.

Mr. John Mohammadi, a supporter of the current regime and a rabid opponent of Israel, falsifies history and reality to breed hatred. His hatred is tarnishing a 2500-year legacy of tolerance and Iran's friendship with the Jewish people.

Just as Hitler lied to spread fear, Mr. Mohammadi twists logic and history to instill an irrational fear.

Mohammadi's insinuation that Israel threatens Iran with weapons of mass destruction is preposterous [See"Breaking eggs"]. Unlike Arab countries, Israel has no territorial ambitions against Iran. Israelis do not dispute the name "Persian Gulf". However, if one looks at a map printed in any Arab country the same body of water is referred to as the "Arabian Gulf."

I once saw a map of the "Arab people." To radical Arabists, southern Iran is Arab territory!

Saddam Hussein attacked Iran to "liberate Arabistan" from Persian occupation. Never mind that the very same area he wanted to liberate from "Persian occupation," Khuizestan, is the cradle of Iranian civilization. Could Mr. Mohammadi give one example of Israelis renaming any part of Iran to their advantage?

When I visited Israel, I was amazed to see the Iranian immigrants still preserve their Iranian identity. In Old Jaffa, I witnessed shopkeepers converse in Persian, mostly in sweet Isfahani accent. These merchants had immigrated to Israel more than four decades ago but still preserved their Persian heritage. In Haifa, there is street named "Iran Street."

I never saw any Israeli hold any contempt against Iranians.

The "racism" Mr. Mohammadi charges, I never experienced. Whenever I disclosed my ethnicity, I was received with a warm reception and their exclamation of Iran's antagonism against their country. Every Israeli would point out how they enjoy good relations with Turkey and with Iran prior to 1079.

Whatever Israel's questionable practices against the Palestinians, Israel has never threatened Iran's territorial sovereignty. The Islamic Republic, however, lashes out at Israel with the vilest attacks. The pillar of the Islamic Republic is the "destruction" of Israeli state. If "axis of evil" is offensive rhetoric, then what about mullahs' consistent unflattering language against the United States and Israel. Do Israelis ever burn the Iranian flag or trample on it? But mullahs use any occasion to burn the Israeli and American flags.

In 1938, a young French Jew murdered the German ambassador to Paris. Hitler and the Nazis used the event as an excuse to launch Kristalnacht or the "night of broken glass." Overnight thousands of synagogues, Jewish homes, shops and business were looted and many people were murdered. In the same fashion, Mr. Mohammadi is using the opinions of one Israeli to nurture hate and anti-Semitism within the Iranian community. Any society has extremist and Israel has its share.

Does every Muslim share the views of Osama Bin Laden or Mohammed Atta? According to Mr. Mohammadi's logic, after killing all the Americans, Osama and the Arabs will start killing Canadians, Brits, French, German, and Italians.

Mr. Mohammadi spreads falsehoods and hate in the name of Iranian people. Should his lies and contempt not be confronted? Just as Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to their homeland, Iranians of modern era could advocate a Palestinian state, next to Israel, without propagating lies and hatred. Iranians are torchbearers of the legacy of Cyrus the Great not Gamal Abdul Naser, Saddam Hussein, or Osama Bin Laden.


H. Michael Jalili I am a graduate student at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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