November 11, 2005


For Jews, there have always been two Irans (Abbas Milani, 11/10/05, International Herald Tribune)

The Bible is full of praise for Persia (today's much-maligned Iran) and for its rulers. In the Book of Ezra, God speaks through the proclamations of Cyrus, the king of Persia, who declares, "The Lord God of Heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem."

Cyrus acceded to this divine command, and thus was the Second Temple in Jerusalem built. In other parts of the Old Testament, there is ringing praise of Cyrus as God's "anointed" and the "chosen" ruler, who freed Jews from their Babylonian captivity.

The Jewish feast of Purim celebrates the story of how Esther, queen to a Persian king, saved the Jews of the kingdom from annihilation. But along with the benevolence of Cyrus and the wisdom of Esther, there also lurked on the horizon the evil vizier, Haman of the race of Agog, whose mind and heart were darkened by rancor and hate.

Today, there sits in place of Cyrus one who has inherited not the magnanimity of Cyrus, but the malice of Haman: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who openly calls for Israel to be "wiped off the map." [....]

Ahmadinejad's comments must furthermore be seen in the context of the crisis the Islamic regime faces. For 25 years, the regime's cure for its own glaring incompetence has been to create a crisis. The European Union, particularly Britain, France and Germany, who had been for two decades dependable allies of the regime, has become increasingly estranged over Iran's nuclear adventurism and allegations of its support for terrorists in Iraq. Syria, the regime's only ally in the Middle East, is now politically on the ropes.

The domestic crisis is no less serious. The economy is in shambles. The stock market has lost about a third of its total value; the banking sector is all but collapsing; $200 billion dollars of capital has left Iran since the election, and there is increasing acrimony between different factions within the ruling clergy. Ahmadinejad's dangerous rhetoric was meant to energize the "base" and prepare them for the coming battles.

The captive people of Iran, or the millions forced into exile by the regime, must not be held responsible for the sins of the ruling cabal. Instead we must try to find ways to help the Iranian people achieve their hundred-year-old dream of democracy. Only in a genuine democracy can the spirit of Cyrus be truly celebrated and the shadow of Haman expunged.

Bruce Feiler's new book, Where God Was Born : A Journey by Land to the Roots of Religion, offers an especially fine look at the history of Jews in Persia/Iran and, incidentally, at the unsustainability of Khomeinism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 11, 2005 1:31 PM

Yes. It's only been sustained for 25 years now.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at November 11, 2005 7:29 PM

interesting perspective on what you consider to be a "long time". i guess the cccp lasting 70+ years must seem like an eternity. for a little perspective, pharonic egypt lasted well over 2500 years. even poor old u.s. is pushing 200+ years.
25 years is nothing in the larger scheme of things.

Posted by: noam chomsky at November 11, 2005 8:40 PM


As you should know, for a liberal a minute is eternity.

Posted by: oj at November 11, 2005 10:06 PM

leftists live their lives on permanent fast forward, the better to get it over with and into the ground. now if only we could get them to stop taking so many others with them.

Posted by: noam chomsky at November 12, 2005 12:13 AM

Wow, this Chomsky fellow is sure talking sense. No wonder that kb fellow likes him.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at November 12, 2005 1:20 AM

The Milani article, by suggesting that ". . . the captive people of Iran. . .not be held responsible for the sins of the ruling cabal," makes an eror which we avoided in WWII.

OTC, those people are very much responsible, as the German and Japanese had been responsible. At the very least, they have supported, as the fathers of their fathers had supported, a culture of tyranny, Nazism and Nipism then, the RoP now. Choices have consequences. One of the very bad things which evil regimes do is to get their peoples into total war.

Misplaced pity and squeamishness tempt us the compass the Sin of Saul is dealing with places like Iran. This is what in turn empowers aggressors to dream that they can challenge us and not be ground to powder, this is what starts wars.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 12, 2005 5:31 AM

Right. 25 years is an eye's blink. Which was why we had to go to war in Iraq THIS VERY SECOND.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at November 12, 2005 11:40 AM

Didn't have to, felt like it. Even Saddam we let oppress his population for an extra 12 years before hastening the inevitable.

If we choose to regime change Iran it will be too late, yet in plenty of time.

Posted by: oj at November 12, 2005 11:48 AM

is there a rule against posting while drunk here ? because some people are not making a whole lot of sense.

Posted by: jim beam at November 12, 2005 2:17 PM

Rick Perlstein:

Are you willing to wait for 16 UN resolutions against Iran? Should Israel? For that matter, should Iraq? Please advise.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 13, 2005 1:18 AM