Jews are not viewed as ‘real’ Iranians

Most Iranian Jews are against the proposed nuclear deal: most Iranian Muslims are for it, but this should not make Iranian Jews any less Iranian, writes Gina Nahai in the Jewish Journal.
Gina’s article is the latest flagged up in JIMENA‘s new series ‘Eyes on the Middle East ‘, which focuses on the experiencesand opinions of Mizrahi Jews, one country at a time.

Gina Nahai….patriotic Iranian

 Time was, you could claim to be a patriotic Iranian, a supporter of Israel and a lover of the United States all at once and be believed by most Iranians. You could say you were all three things without pretense or contradiction, or the need to rank your loyalties in order of intensity, or to distinguish between your support for Israel as a nation, as opposed to any one of its governments. That’s what we thought anyway, we Jewish Iranians whose ancestors had lived in Iran for 3,000 years.

 The mullahs had always said differently — that Jews were not “real” Iranians; that our existence was a threat to the rest of the nation; that we had lain in wait for a millennium and a half for the Arabs to come and convert most Iranians to Islam, only so we could use the blood of Muslim children in the baking of matzahs.

The mullahs said this, and the large majority of Muslim Iranians believed them.

Then, somewhere between the late 1920s, when Reza Shah’s government began to protect us against the mullahs and their troops of believers, and late in 1978, when his son, Mohammad Reza Shah, was forced out of the country, Jewish Iranians were allowed to be both things at once, in equal degrees, and to be patriotic Iranians as well as supporters of Israel.

Then the mullahs returned, and unless we actively denounced Israel and claimed support for the Palestinian cause, we all became Zionist spies, a fifth column in Iran whose only goal was to enslave and humiliate God-fearing Muslim Arabs. You could be a Jew who despised Israel, or you could be an enemy of God, Islam and Iran. The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said this, and the large majority of Muslim Iranians believed him. Never mind the age-old enmity between Iranians and Arabs, Shia and Sunni; the collective Iranian memory of conquering Arab armies laying waste to any signs of civilization; the stereotype of the “insect-eating Arab” as primitive and intellectually challenged.

When it came to the matter of a bunch of Jews getting the best of a sea of Muslims, just about every Iranian mullah became a human rights lawyer.


Read article in full


  • I understand that the Jews of Kaifeng have had it OK. Anyone see the new claims form for Shanghai ghetto survivors and heirs?

  • Of course this roughly parallels the Jews of central, eastern and northern Europe being considered as alien, and not true Europeans, despite 2,000 years in some of those lands. And similarly, "dual loyalties" that abound for Jews in the "new world".

  • So before Reza Shah, in the days of the Qajars and the Safavids and before then, from the time of the Arab conquest in the 7th century till Reza Shah in the late 1920s, Jews in Iran/Persia were dhimmis, third class subjects of Islamic regimes. That is, for about 45 years or a few years more or less, Jews in Iran had a more or less tolerable and equal status. That is, 45 years out of 1300. Khomeini and his gang merely turned the clock back for the Jews while adding some new, modern wrinkles of oppression and harassment. And existential danger for Jews everywhere.


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