Monday, July 14, 2008


This month's National Geographic features Iran, and in a few minutes, I am going to sit down and enjoy reading it.

Iran -- such a puzzle of a country! To many minds today, the word evokes a shudder. Yet, by its ancient name, Persia, the most romantic of imagery is conjured up: Persian rugs, Persian cats, etc.

To the ancient West, Persia was the perennial enemy -- whether the Evil Empire that threatened heroic Greece, the land of the once Great King who fell to Alexander the Great, or the Parthians who frustrated Roman advancement into the East.

Ironically, when the West embraced Christianity, it embraced a book which portrayed a completely different Persia. To the Jews before the Common Era, Persia was a benevolent master, much preferred to the horrible Babylonians that came before. Cyrus, king of Persia, may have been a hiss and a byword to the Athenians but the Bible venerates him. And the Jews had far more trouble from the Hellenizing legions of Alexander than they ever did from the Persians.

Yet this very land of Persia, today's Iran, has to be modern Israel's greatest nightmare.


Anonymous said...

No, not really modern Israel's greatest nightmare. In fact the Israelis admit it themselves:

What they really fear is that the US and Iran may start to get which case, who needs Israel? Imagine an ancient, strategically located oil producing nation of 70 million consumers of American goods and services...compared to Israel which has caused nothing but headaches and has been a liability for the US. THAT is the real threat Iran poses to Israel. THAT is why the Israeli lobby prevents any US-Iran rapprochment. Read Trita Parsi's book, Treacherous Alliances (Yale University Press 2003) to learn more.

Clifford said...

I appreciate the reading recommendations, Anonymous.

But so long as Ahmenijad continues his ravings and Iran continues to push for nuclear capabilities, the chances for US-Iran rapproachment are zero.

The U.S. "gets along," more or less, with a handful of other Middle Eastern countries -- Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and most recently, Iraq -- without any visible heartburn from Israel.

Clifford said...

Personally, I would love to see the day when Iran and the U.S. do get along and our peoples can freely mingle, learning from and trading with each other, in a world where Sunni and Shiite no longer jockey for control of the Middle East and where Israel is fully accepted in the region as a neighbor and a friend.