Jewish Legacies in Iran

bkyser on Apr 2nd 2012

In this article, Jewish Iranian-American author, Roya Hakakian, discusses the issue of a future war between Iran and Israel. She makes reference to the achievements in industrialization in Iran that are a result of the design and labor of two prominent Jewish families, the Nazarians and the Elghanians. The Nazarians are credited for the sewage system and laying the groundwork for many of the plans that have developed the city of Isfahan. The Elghanians are known for designing and building high-rise buildings in Tehran.

Hakakian also mentions that 20,000 Jews live in Iran today making Iran home to the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside of Israel. The prospect of a future war between Israel and Iran, in Hakakian’s view, would be degrading and ignoring the contributions that each of these cultures has brought to each other. Looking at history, Cyrus the Great served as a savior figure for the Jewish people by giving them a home in Babylon. Also, during the Holocaust, many Jews left France through the help of Abdol-Hossein Sardari, the head of Iran’s diplomatic mission to France. Today, in Iran, as a result of this mission, there are Polish cemeteries where the descendants of Polish immigrants to Iran still go to pay their respects.

Roya Hakakian, “What Two Enemies Share,” The New York Times, February 25, 2012, (accessed April 2, 2012).

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1979 Newspapers Addressing the Kurdish Issue

bkyser on Mar 18th 2012

I stumbled upon this website while conducting research for my Human Rights and Islam class. It is a collection of newspaper articles from Iranian newspapers released in 1979 addressing the issue of Kurdistan. In one of the articles, Ayatollah Khomeini’s orders to kill the Kurds are explicitly stated. Khomeini named Mr. Hojjat-o-Islam Kermani as his envoy to Kurdistan, and talked about the Kurds by saying, “they must be crushed.” The possibility of a ceasefire is also talked about in this specific article due to the talks that were taken place at the time in Tehran between the new government and the Kurds. The Kurds agreed to lay their weapons down if the Islamic government halted advances on Kurdish territory. Newspapers also began circulating pictures of Kurds standing in front of Islamic gunmen in Iran.

This newspaper article discusses how one of the reasons for the executions and capturing of Kurdish towns from the Islamic government was due to the fact that Ayatollah Khomeini saw them as being communist. He is quoted as saying, “We are not facing a Kurdish question, but a Communist one” in describing the events taking place in Kurdistan. Some of the reasons behind this mentality stemmed from the fact that many Kurds had Russian-made rifles and were reported to have connections with Russia.

Another article, although not specific to the Kurdish issue, discusses the decision of newly formed Islamic government to invest authority in Ayatollah Khomeini, following Article 5 of their new constitution. This article gives the Supreme Leader absolute religious authority and “uncontested support in dealing with state matters.”

The articles listed at the end are all in Farsi.

Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, “1979 Articles about Iranian Kurdistan,” Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, (accessed March 18, 2012).

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Man Charged with Terror for Norway Massacre

tobin on Mar 7th 2012

Anders Breivik was indicted this week on terror charges for massacring 77 people. However due to his mental state he will not be spending time in a prison and will be attending psychiatric care instead. Link

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Diplomacy, not war: New Iran nuclear talks seen

tobin on Mar 7th 2012

Efforts to talk with Iran over nuclear issues are increasing. With fears of war starting over the nuclear issue in Iran, U.S and other “power houses” are looking to sit down with Iranian leaders to dicuss ways to prevent any fighting. Link.


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Hamas would stay out of any Israel-Iran fighting

tobin on Mar 7th 2012

Here is an interesting article posted about Hamas’ relation with Iran. Hamas a known rival of Israel says they would not help Iran if a war started. Link.

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Behesht-e Zahra

bkyser on Mar 2nd 2012


Tehran’s most famous cemetary, Behesht-e Zahra (which means Paradise of Zahra in Farsi), is known for the many martyrs that are buried there, many from the Iran-Iraq War. Here is one visitor to the cemetery’s own personal account of their visit. When visiting Behesht-e Zahra one usually encounters grave washers and people who say prayers for the dead over the grave you are visiting in order to earn money. Ayatollah Talleghani is also buried here. He is known for working with Ayatollah Khomeini in the early days of the revolution and is also known for founding the Freedom Movemnet of Iran. He is also known for his Quranic writings. He died in 1979. Located adjacent to Behesht-e Zahra is the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Here is a USA Today article that also discusses Behesht-e Zahra. This article discusses the way in which the graves are organized: there is one section for people who died under the Shah, one for people who died in activities associated with the revolution, and those that died in the 1980-1988 Iran –Iraq War. David Lynch, from USA Today, interviews a man that he meets at Behesht-e Zahra who is visiting the grave of a friend who died in the Iran-Iraq War when he as seventeen. Through his conversation, Lynch comes to some conclusions about what the Iran-Iraq War means today to the Iranian people and why they choose to keep the memory alive by visiting Behesht-e Zahra with their children.

David J. Lynch, “At Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, a lesson of faith and sacrifice,” USA Today, August 22, 2006, (accessed March 2, 2012).

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Timeline of Modern Iran

bkyser on Mar 2nd 2012

Here is a chronological timeline of Modern Iran, beginning in 1921 with the end of the Qajar Dynasty. It includes important dates in Iran’s history up until 2009. Some of the important dates that are included are the changing of the name of Persia to Iran in 1935, the coup of Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953, and the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. The timeline goes all of the way up until Ahmadinejad’s second election victory in 2009.

PBS, “Key Events in Iran Since 1921,” PBS News, February 11, 2010, (accessed March 2, 2012).

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Suicide of Ali Reza Pahlavi

bkyser on Mar 1st 2012

In January of 2012, the son of the former Shah of Iran, Ali Reza Pahlavi, committed suicide in Boston. He is most known within the Iranian American community for his criticism of the clerical regime in Iran and for his support of Iran to become a democracy. Read more here.

“I’m not here to advocate anything but … freedom and democracy for the Iranian people at first, and I’ve determined this as my unique mission in life,”
-Ali Reza Pahlavi

Denise Lavoie, “Alireza Pahlavi Suicide: Iran Shah’s Son Killed Himself In Boston, Says Brother,” The Huffington Post, January 4, 2011, (accessed March 1, 2012).

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1980 Interview with the Shah and Shahbanou

bkyser on Mar 1st 2012

Here is a People magazine article from January 1980 with Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and his wife, Farah, the Shahbanou. In this article they provide details of their life in exile, the Shah’s diagnosis of Waldenstrom’s desease, and how their children are adjusting to life in America. They are also asked about the SAVAK and the many reported cases of torture that took place during the Shah’s rule. The Shah denies being connected to these acts of torture, however his legacy in Iran as a “despot” makes this hard to believe. The Shah also discusses the ways in which his rule benefited the poor people in Iran, particuarly in Baluchistan (Southeast Iran).

Jean Desaunois, “The Shah and His Empress Talk About Their Life in Exile, His Illness and Her Dreams,” People Magazine, January 28, 1980,,,20075686,00.html (accessed March 1, 2012).

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Iran in Maps

bkyser on Feb 23rd 2012

Here is a link to a BBC interactive webpage featuring maps of Iran. These maps show you where nuclear sites are located, where different ethnic groups within Iran live, and the size of the population in Iran’s major cities.

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