Iran Part 3
By Yoram Getzler. As an up-date and continuation to my recent posting about Iran, I would like to add a pikanti story from the Israeli press on the kind of individual peace initiative that people so love to hear about, contemplate and participate in.
To begin with it needs to be acknowledged that we Jews have a long history with the people and place of Iran.
2500 years ago, before it was Iran, before it was Persia, it was Babylon. The Babylonians were one of the earliest expansionist empires in human history. They expanded all the way to our small nation states on the coast of the sea. First they conquered the Northern Ten Tribes. They exiled the people back to Babylon as was their policy with conquered peoples.
A few years later they returned and conquered the two remaining tribes of Israel surrounding Jerusalem, who were also exiled to the “Rivers of ______ , where we lay down and cried”.
In time the Babylonians were themselves conquered by the Persian king Cyrus. He allowed the Children of Israel who had remained identified with their faith and home land to return to their ancient homeland, between the sea and the river. I suspect he realized that the returning Hebrews and their leaders would provide the basis for a taxable society.
Not all the Jews returned, many remained.
Almost a thousand years later during mostly in good times the Muslims conquered Persia together with its Jews, who did not convert and remained in place until 1949, . With the development of the Jewish state the position of the Jews in the Arab/Islamic world became more precarious than before and most left for Israel.
Now, for many of the Jews who immigrated from Babylon / Iraq and Iran in the 1950′s, the memories of “home” are pleasant and filled with warm, sentimental memories. But in recent years, especially in the case of Iran/Persia we have all witnessed a developing hostility and threats. This situation seems to have reached a perilous summit these last few months, with talk of attacks and war emanating from both sides.
In an attempt to diffuse some of this tension some young Israeli graduates of the Betzalel School of Design have designed a series of posters stating a variation of “We love you Iran”
and now in response we are hearing from Iranians. One Iranian writes: “We are 2 civilizations with more than 2,500 years of friendship. Why should I hate Israel?”