Accepting, I inquired how he felt about the chants of “Death to Israel” — “Marg bar Esraeel” — that punctuate life in Iran.This was the kicker:
“Let them say ‘Death to Israel,’ ” he said. “I’ve been in this store 43 years and never had a problem. I’ve visited my relatives in Israel, but when I see something like the attack on Gaza, I demonstrate, too, as an Iranian.”
Perhaps I have a bias toward facts over words, but I say the reality of Iranian civility toward Jews tells us more about Iran — its sophistication and culture — than all the inflammatory rhetoric.Oh, I'm sure the fact that Roger Cohen is an internationally-known, Western journalist has nothing to do with the civility accorded to him. As for that pithy sentence about facts and words, it would be better applied to Iran's denial of its nuclear ambitions. And do bombing Jewish community centers and arming Hizbullah also amount to "mere words"?
That may be because I’m a Jew and have seldom been treated with such consistent warmth as in Iran. Or perhaps I was impressed that the fury over Gaza, trumpeted on posters and Iranian TV, never spilled over into insults or violence toward Jews. Or perhaps it’s because I’m convinced the “Mad Mullah” caricature of Iran and likening of any compromise with it to Munich 1938 — a position popular in some American Jewish circles — is misleading and dangerous.