No, the Iranian Shah Didn’t Rename His Country to Please Hitler

In a recent book, the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy claims that Reza Shah Pahlavi, the founder of Iran’s last dynasty, changed his country’s official name from Persia to Iran to make a good impression on Nazi Germany. The latter name is related to the word “Aryan,” which was used by the ancient people of the area stretching from Iraq to India to describe themselves, as well as by such Western writers as Herodotus. In the late-19th century, it began to be used by European historians and was eventually adopted by German race theorists. But, writes Amir Taheri, Lévy not only gets the story wrong but also unwittingly repeats a piece of propaganda that originated with Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers:

Trying to justify their [own] anti-Semitism, expressed through anti-Israel rhetoric, the ruling mullahs claim that they are continuing an old national tradition. To back that claim they trace their policy to Reza Shah, the man who founded the Pahlavi dynasty, [which was later overthrown by the self-styled Islamic revolution]. FARS, the news agency run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, ran a long feature detailing what it claims are Reza Shah’s misdeeds, including his promotion of “Aryanism,” allegedly under Nazi influence, [in order to discredit him]. . . .

All that isn’t surprising; Reza Shah and his promotion of patriotism was the polar opposite of Khomeini [and his worldview, which emphasizes religion over nationalism]. . . .

Consciousness of Iran and Iranian-ness [as opposed to a narrower sense of Persian identity] has been a theme of hundreds of poets writing in modern Persian, the lingua franca of Iranian peoples, for over 1100 years. Many of them were born and lived in lands that are not part of present-day Iran and had as their mother tongues other languages of the Iranic or Indo-Iranian linguistic family; but all saw themselves as Iranians. . . .

[I]n 1936, Hitler’s government tried to classify Iranian Jews as “Semites” and thus sub-humans. Iran protested and argued that as far as Iranian Jews were concerned, Judaism was a religion, not a racial category, and that Iranian Jews should be regarded as Aryans. Iranians insisted that Cyrus the Great had liberated the Jews from bondage in Babylon 25 centuries earlier and that Iranian Jews had been Iranian long enough not to be divested of their identity. Hitler set up a committee . . . to arbitrate. . . . The committee recommended that Iranian Jews be exempted from Nazi racial profiling, and Hitler agreed. . . .

[This was] the reality of the situation under Reza Shah who abolished many of the last remaining restrictions against Jews and other religious minorities, a process that had started 50 years earlier under Nassereddin Shah.

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Read more at Kayhan London

More about: Adolf Hitler, Anti-Semitism, Ayatollah Khomeini, History & Ideas, Iran


To Israel’s Leading Strategist, Strength, Not Concessions, Has Brought a Measure of Calm

Aug. 14 2018

Following a long and distinguished career in the IDF, Yaakov Amidror served as Israel’s national-security adviser from 2011 to 2013. He speaks with Armin Rosen about the threats from Gaza, Hizballah, and Iran:

For Israel’s entire existence, would-be peacemakers have argued that the key to regional harmony is the reduction of the Jewish state’s hard power through territorial withdrawals and/or the legitimization of the country’s non-state enemies. In Amidror’s view, reality has thoroughly debunked this line of reasoning.

Amidror believes peace—or calm, at least—came as a result of Israeli muscle. Israel proved to its former enemies in the Sunni Arab world that it’s powerful enough to fill the vacuum left by America’s exit from the region and to stand up to Iran on the rest of the Middle East’s behalf. “The stronger Israel is, the more the ability of Arab countries to cooperate [with it] grows,” Amidror explained. On the whole, Amidror said he’s “very optimistic. I remember the threat that we faced when we were young. We fought the Six-Day War and I remember the Yom Kippur War, and I see what we are facing today. We have only one-and-a-half problems. One problem is Iran, and the half-problem is Hizballah.” . . .

In all likelihood the next Israeli-Iranian confrontation will be a clash with Amidror’s half-threat: the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hizballah, Iran’s most effective proxy in the Middle East and perhaps the best armed non-state military force on earth. . . . “We should neutralize the military capability of Hizballah,” [in the event of war], he said. “We should not destroy the organization as a political tool. If the Shiites want these people to represent them, it’s their problem.” . . .

“It will be a very nasty war,” Amidror said. “A very, very nasty war.” Hizballah will fire “thousands and thousands” of long-range missiles of improved precision, speed, and range at Israeli population centers, a bombardment larger than Israel’s various layers of missile defense will be able to neutralize in full. . . . This will, [however], be a blow Israel can withstand. “Israelis will be killed, no question,” Amidror said. “But it’s not going to be catastrophic.”

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Lebanon