I have always been fascinated with Iran. Even before I met my half Armenian, half Persian wife. And when I met her, I was hoping to get close to a country and culture I always have admired. Instead I discovered that my wife shuns her Persian family and relishes in her Armenian side. When asked why, her answer was simple: Iranians eat their young.
Now you may think she was a racist or self-hater, but reality is more complicated. Setareh, named after her paternal grandmother, loves Iranian culture even more than I do. She listens to Persian music and cooks Persian dishes.
But with the Armenians, she feels a sense of community. People help each other. They bring each other up. They support each other and act in tandem.
With Iranians, there is always the complaining that the world doesn’t respect their greatness, yet they do everything to shoot each other down, do everything to prevent themselves from excelling as a collective and forget about supporting each other. And gods forbid if a new generation of Iranians comes up with new ideas and new approaches. As Setareh says: Iranians live in the past because they eat their young, to forget the sins they commit in the presence.
Perhaps political influence shows this more than anything else. Iranians love to complain that they don’t have political influence. And they love – I mean really love – to complain that the Jews (I am half-Jewish) and the Armenians are so influential here in the US.
But when Iranians start to make progress on this front, who stands in their way? Is it the Armenians? The hated Arabs? Perhaps the Jews? No, it’s other Iranians.
The evidence of this is visible on the very pages of Iranian.com. When finally Iranians of a younger generation have realized how to amass and exert influence in the US through the National Iranian American Council, the first thing that happens is that jealous, goodfor-nothing Iranians realize that their right to complain about being misunderstood and uninfluential is about to be withdrawn. “Iranians are getting somewhere – we better stop it before we lose our rights to complain!” they seem to be thinking.
And before you know it, Iranians all over the place are doing everything they can to bring down NIAC.
Now, I am neither a NIAC supporter nor detractor. I am just observing from the outside, and what I am seeing is making me realize that my wife is a very perceptive woman.
I see an organization with very competent leadership, sophisticated approach, making significant impact on America’s policies. Exactly the kind of things Iranians complain that they DON’T have, but should have. The organization seems to have a youthful spirit, but great maturity in execution. It’s clearly driven by new ideas, as their thinking seems divorced from stereotypical Iranian thinking.
Now, if this was the Armenian community, and a new organization emerged and within years managed to defeat AIPAC, the key pro-Israel lobby, Armenians would be standing in line seeking to find out more about it and see how they can support it. They would compete to help it – even if they didn’t agree with it, calculating that by supporting it, they can influence it towards their own thinking.
But Iranians don’t seem to think that way. “There’s a new organization that actually has become influential? Stops wars and gets invited to the White House? My God, we better shoot it down before their success reveals the incompetence of the rest of us,” Iranians seem to think.
As a Jew, I can tell you that my community fights a lot. I mean a lot. We are really world champions at being argumentative. But we balance that by supporting each other like there’s no tomorrow. We want each other to succeed. And we instill in our youth that once successful, you must give back to the community.
Having married Setareh, I know Armenians think the same way. I am no political scientist, but I assume that is why Armenians and Jews are successful an influential. We have managed to figure out a way to both fight internally and still support each other.
And of course, we don’t eat our children. We invest in them. So we can enjoy the past knowing that our future will be even more glorious.
Now why am I writing this? Because I was hoping my wife would be wrong about you. With these thoughts on paper, perhaps I can make you realize that the only thing holding Iranians back is Iranians themselves.
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