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Letter to the New York Times Editor on "Reading the Holocaust cartoons in Tehran"

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, Salt Lake City, Utah


Reference:  Reading the Holocaust Cartoons in Tehran, by Roya Hakanian, September 3, 2006, New York Times


One is prompted to ask why Ms. Hakakian did not spend her energy presenting accurate information to the world.  But then again, her story proved worthwhile for herself and likeminded dogmatists.  Her book   "A Journey from the Land of No" has become a mandatory text book.


She writes "of all the pains that Muslim Iranians inflicted upon the Jews, the most persistent is obscurity. We have always been admired for being completely Iranian".  I wonder how many Jews in this county complain of being completely American?  Does Ms. Hakanian question the number of American Jews who celebrate Christmas and New Year as enthusiastically as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?  In all the years that I have been here, I have celebrated Christmas more enthusiastically than Norooz. Never have I been offended when asked whether I am Persian or Iranian - not even when asked if I am I-Ranian.    


Ms. Hakanian claims that Iran owes part of its identity to Jews who translated Persian texts to Hebrew after the Arab invasion.  The traditional Persian music owes its continuance to Jews as when Arabs attacked Iran, Muslims were not allowed to practice it.  This is where Ms. Hakakian really confused me.  If Jews were forced to hide their identity and live in obscurity, how could they have maintained and preserved Persian identity when they had to hide their own? Especially when they had to flaunt it in such an obvious manner, that is, loud music and Hebrew language?


Perhaps too, the source of her pain is unawareness of history and the socio-economical strata, as well as Iran's geography.  No doubt there was a degree of ignorance in the rural areas.   A person arriving from Paris would be equally an object of amazement and observation in certain parts of the country and among certain classes as a Jew or a Zoroastrian  would be. This is not unique to Iran.  Even in the most advanced countries in the world this phenomena exists even today.   To make it a Moslem-Jewish issue is an obnoxious twist to normalcy in order to accommodate her path to fame and fortune.


Ms. Hakakian would do well to know that is no substitute for honesty and forthrightness.  Iran was home for thousands of years to Jews.  It is unbecoming to smear it and make it a 'Muslim Iranian' entity at war with a Jewish identity.  





... Payvand News - 9/5/06 ... --

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