How the Mossad Saved a Biblical Deer Species from Iran

Nov. 25 2020

Among the undomesticated mammals listed as kosher in the book of Deuteronomy, is the yaḥmur, usually thought to be the fallow deer or roebuck. The creature is mentioned only one other time in the Hebrew Bible, in the book of Kings, which states that the daily provisioning of Solomon’s palace included “ten fattened oxen, twenty pasture-fed oxen, and 100 sheep and goats, besides deer and gazelles, fallow deer and fatted geese.” While this species was once plentiful in the Land of Israel, they were thought to have become extinct in the 19th century—until, in the 1950s, a small population was discovered in Persia. Aaron Reich recounts the remarkable rescue operation that ensued, details of which only recently became public knowledge:

Israel tried to arrange with the shah of Iran for two members of the small Persian fallow-deer herd to be sent to Israel. Their efforts included Avraham Yoffe, [a former general and then then the head of the Nature and Parks Authority], working to court the shah’s brother, avid hunter Prince Abdol Reza Pahlavi, inviting him to the Negev to hunt Nubian ibex. The ibex is a protected species in Israel but then-agricultural minister Ariel Sharon made an exception, . . . but no progress was made for nearly two decades.

[At last], Yoffe himself went to Tehran to retrieve the deer on invitation from the shah’s brother, but had a mild heart attack on arrival. . . . But everything changed in December 1978. Sensing the impending revolution, the Nature and Parks Authority was called by the shah, who told them to dispatch Mossad agents immediately to secure the deer.

By the time the agent arrived—reportedly the zoologist Mike Van Grevenbroek, armed with a blowgun disguised as a cane—nobody was there to greet him. The shah and his family had fled the country, and the agent was ordered to leave at once.

Despite the circumstances, the operation succeeded, and Israel now has a few hundred of the deer, which are being gradually reintroduced into the wild.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Animals, Hebrew Bible, Mossad, Nature, Persia

 

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam