Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ahmedinejad: Not a Jew

But guess who is? Motamed, and Habakkuk too!

Just a brief post in re: the fairly absurd "Ahmedinejad is Jewish" rumor that is making the Facebook rounds. It doesn't make sense. I just want to make that very clear for the record. The logic behind the article is basically the following: Ahmedinejad's family name used to be Sabourjian. In Aradan, where he's from, Sabourjian means "weaver of Tallit". A fellow from a think-tank says this "explains a lot about him."

First off, "Sabour" may be a term for Tallit, I don't know, I've never heard it, but I don't know Farsi. I do know, however, that Sabour is an awful lot like the Arabic "sabur", which means timeless/everlasting, as in "Allah as-Sabur", God the everlasting. Just from a really brief search, this is a fairly common name. Because any paterfamilias would want to have an everlasting family, right?

I'm not sure when "-jian" became Jewish. It seems much more likely to be Armenian, since like, all their names end with -ian, because it means "son of". "Son of the timeless" seems pretty common, much more common than two tortured translations to make "weaver of Tallit." Occam's Razor and all.

Aradan is a small town outside of Garmsar, in Semnan Province. Jews (and Armenians, since I mentioned it) tended to live in the western, more populous, areas of Iran. Semnan is basically the border between the urban areas of Qom, Tehran, and Isfahan on one side...and Yazd, Khoresan, and Gulistan on the other. Apparenlty there are a decent chunk of Karteli, Lurish, and Arabs in Semnan...but nobody is going to put you on the first page if you say Ahmedinejad is any of those. But there simply aren't many Jews there, for whatever reason (ask an Iranian historian, not me...but it may have to do with trade coming west from Khoresan/Balochestan, or north through the Dasht-e Kavir...both of which have strong merchant cultures that don't involve Jews). But hey, apparently the Chinese are drilling for oil around here! That's exciting!

And as for the Telegraph's expert think tank? Well, the first thing you read on their website may give a clue as to their leanings. "The Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies was founded in 1980 by former Iranian diplomat Ambassador Jaffar Ra'ed." Hmm...looks like the think tank was started by, and guided by the principles of, a dude who lost his job and his country in 1979. These folks may not be the clearest thinkers when it comes to Iranian governmental policy. There could be some bias there, I don't know.

I mean, Ahmedinejad is a bad dude...he's really put the screws to his people in a lot of ways, and his government really has to pull a rabbit out of its hat in the current nuclear talks in order to be welcomed to the world stage in any way whatsoever. He's being hounded by domestic political enemies, his worst enemy has brought war into the countries to his West and East (Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively), and the election he just won by a landslide looks awfully, awfully, sketchy. There's lots of things one could reasonably demonize the dude with. But let's not try to psychoanalyze him using cutsey-wootsey methodology in a downright dishonest attention-grab of an article.

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