Inveterate Shiite Iranian Jew-Hatred

Shah IsmailShah Ismail I

Recently I gave a brief video presentation in the U.S. Senate Office Building which riveted on the most salient doctrinal features of Shiite Islamic Jew-hatred in Iran.

This ugly phenomenon spans a pre-modern to modern continuum of five centuries, which dates from the ascent of Shah Ismail I in 1501, and the birth of Iran’s Shiite theocracy. The Portuguese traveler Tome Pires observed (between 1512-1515), “Sheikh Ismail…never spares the life of any Jew,” while another European travelogue account stated that the repressive and bigoted founder of the Safavid dynasty, “…bore hatred against the Jews and ordered their eyes to be gouged out if they happened to be found in his vicinity.”

Sultanhussein Tabandeh, the Iranian Shiite leader of the Ne’ematullahi Sultanalishahi Sufi Order, wrote an “Islamic perspective” on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. According to Professor Eliz Sanasarian’s important study of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tabandeh’s tract became “…the core ideological work upon which the Iranian government…based its non-Muslim policy.” Tabandeh begins his discussion by lauding as a champion “…of the oppressed,” Shah Ismail I (r., 1501-1524),

My forthcoming monograph on Iran will include the following pathognomonic anecdote recorded by political scientist Eliz Sanasarian, which is a res ipsa loquitur demonstration of the inveterate nature of Shiite Iranian Jew-hatred, a “cultural prejudice,” which persists even within the “secular,” highly-educated diaspora.

A group of [Iranian] émigré medical doctors used to meet and socialize on a regular basis in a major city in the United States. Among them only one couple were Jewish; the rest were Iranian Shiite Muslims, none of whom practiced any aspect of the religion or attended mosque. At a social occasion, out of the blue, a group of them began a conversation about “johooda [a reference to the Jews]” and their conspiracies, deceits, and lies. A friend of the  author [Sanasarian], present in the gathering, turned to the Jewish couple: “How can you stand this? Say something!” “No,” responded the couple, “we are used to it. Don’t say anything.” My friend, unable to hold back, reminded the chatterers that they had Jews in their midst. They changed their tune immediately; addressing the Jewish couple, one of them sighed: “Khoda margam bedeh [God strike me dead—a colloquial expression]. We hope you don’t think we were talking about you. We are speaking in generalities which we know you’ll agree with us’ The Jewish couple remained silent and my friend walked out of the party in disgust.

 

 

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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