Between Iran and Israel: It Wasn’t Always Like this

Between Iran and Israel: It Wasn’t Always Like This…
by Gerald A. Honigman

Within the last few weeks, Israel has been forced to eliminate numerous threatening Iranian military positions dangerously close to it in a minority (Shi’a offshoot) Alawi-dominated Syria that Tehran aspires to control, along with at least Iraq and Lebanon as well, via various Shi’a surrogates. Among other things this Iranian hegemonic Shi’a Crescent–nightmare of the Gulf Sunni Arabs–would accomplish, hundreds of thousands of missiles and other means of destruction would be under its command aimed at a very densely-populated, but minuscule, Israel…the very same country Iran’s would-be nuclear ayatollahs have repeatedly vowed to destroy. To further this encirclement, Iran has armed the Sunni Arabs of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza as well.

Indeed, looking at relations between Iranians and Jews just within the last four decades, one might logically assume that there were always bitterness between these two ancient, historic peoples, with little hope for a better future…

And yet, just the opposite may very well be the case if we use history as our guide…

Back in 2013, a truly marvelous archaeological find, the “Cyrus Cylinder,” aka, the Kurash Prism, arrived in Washington, D.C. on loan from the British Museum and began the American leg of its journey at the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution.

Discovered in pieces in the late 19th century in the ruins of Babylon, the Kurash Prism was reassembled and translated by the pioneer British Assyriologist, Theophilus Pinches, and the soldier, diplomat, and “Father of Assyriology,” Sir Henry Rawlinson, at the British Museum.

Among other things, this priceless, 9-inch long, clay cylindrical treasure provides, in cuneiform writing, historical corroboration of the account in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Ezra of Persia’s Cyrus the Great’s emancipation of the Jews from Babylonian captivity and his facilitation of their return to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem–the one Iranian mullahs and their Arab buddies claim never existed.

Some things change, others don’t…Thus, long before the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, ancient Persia and Babylonia were fighting over the same real estate when Cyrus (559-530 B.C.E.) conquered Babylon. And while the Jewish holiday of Passover has Egypt’s Pharaoh as the villain, another holiday, occurring earlier in springtime, Purim, recorded in the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Esther, deals with another leader who had genocidal ideas towards Jews–Persia’s Haman. Unfortunately, Jews have had to deal with many of such Hamans over the course of their four thousand-year history–including those now ruling the same place where Haman lived and whose forward military emplacements in Syria Israel just obliterated.

But now for some good news–almost unbelievable given the past four decades.

Unlike the mindset and ruthless machinations of Iran’s murderous leaders today who have slaughtered untold thousands of Iran’s own various peoples at home (about half of Iran consists of non-Persian ethnic groups), please pay attention to, in the following excerpts from the Kurash Prism, how a mighty–but humane and benevolent–Persian ruler dealt with the diverse peoples he encountered some twenty-five centuries ago…

” I am Kurash, King of the World, Great King…King of Babilani, King of Kiengir and Akkade, King of the four rims of the earth, Son of Kanbujiya…to the region from as far as Assura and Susa, Akkade, Eshnunna, the towns Zamban, Me-turnu, Der as well as the region of the Gutians (note: today’s Kurds), I returned to these sacred cities on the other side of the Tigris the sanctuaries of which have been ruins for a long time, the images which used to live therein and established for them permanent sanctuaries. I also gathered all their former inhabitants and returned them to their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Kiengir and Akkade whom Nabonidus had brought into Babilani to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former temples, the places which make them happy.”

Next are these same events in the Jews’ own writings in the Hebrew Bible, Ezra 1:1-8 :

” In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom…”Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!’ Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and Levites—everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so—prepared to go up to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors gave them help in every way, with silver, gold, goods, and cattle, and with many precious gifts besides all their free-will offerings. King Cyrus, too, had the utensils of the house of the Lord brought forth which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his god.”

Jews were grateful to their powerful Iranian liberators and served in their armies throughout their empire. At the fortress in Elephantine, Egypt, for example ancient documents related to this were discovered, along with a synagogue built there for Jewish soldiers serving under the Iranian ruler.

Centuries later, when Judea fought for its freedom and independence against the Roman Empire in the first and second centuries C.E. (see a Judaea Capta coin issued by Rome here ), it was Iran, again, which came to the Jews’ aid. Much later still, on the eve of the explosive Arab invasions out of the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century C.E., which resulted in the conquest and forced Arabization, to one degree or another, of both the land of the Jews and that of the Persians (and many other peoples’ as well), ancient, non-Jewish documents recorded an army of tens of thousands of Jews from Galilee and the northern hill country aligning themselves with Iran against the hated Byzantines.

So, what happened to get to where we are today–with Iranian leaders and their military vowing to obliterate the resurrected Jewish State…Iran’s former vassal, later ally, and the very nation Cyrus the Great returned many of the Jews to?

Well, for starters, there was that not-so-little thing briefly mentioned above–the Arab jihadi conquests.

While the fate of Jews under both Sunni and Shi’a Islam was fragile, to say the least, in some ways it was even worse at the hands of the latter.

Thus, as the centuries progressed in a henceforth Muslim Iran–and a Twelver Shia one at that–Jews would soon find themselves in an extremely tenuous position. Their very lives and livelihoods came to depend upon a powerful, more secular political ruler, the Shah (like Cyrus over a thousand years earlier), who could act more on their collective behalf against the powerful force of the hostile religious establishment, the religious ulama and the mullahs.

While there were also some pre-Islamic problems, as already noted, the fate of Iran’s Jews had far more ups and downs (clear up to the present time) due to the situation brought on by the Arab Muslim conquest of the land. And since Jews were largely dependent on the political power of the Shahs, if the latter were unjust, then the masses, stirred up by the mullahs, frequently took it out on the Jews.

With the overthrow of Iran’s last Shah in 1979, a secular, autocratic, harsh despotism (which still managed to achieve much good for the nation) was replaced by one even worse and far less tolerant led by the Twelver Shi’a religious establishment. And this is the real, main reason for the mullahs’ and those whose minds they control professed hatred of the Jews and desire to destroy Israel. Undemocratic, oppressive dictators everywhere always prefer to make sure that they have at least one great, external bogeyman against whom to channel internal frustration, unrest, and violence.

Iran’s duplicitous rulers cry about such things as “Palestine” and the Jewish “occupation” of Jerusalem (indeed–Jews have occupied it for over 3,000 years, since King David purchased the site of the future Temple Mount from the Jebusites) so no one questions what the mullahs have their military do, in just one of many horrendous examples, to their own province of Khuzestan’s millions of Ahwazi Arabs. There are so many of the latter that this province has been known as “Arabistan” for centuries–the main reason why the Arabs’ Saddam Hussein in Iraq made a land grab for this oil-rich area in the 1980s. Iran shouts “Palestine” so no one mentions such things as “Arabistan.”

Who better to deflect attention from Iran’s far worse sins than the world’s most popular scapegoat and whipping post par excellence–the Jew or, in a post-Auschwitz era, the Jew of the Nations…Israel? Just ask the hypocrites in Europe–they’re experts at this kind of stuff. More and more Iranians will start to see through this sad ploy as they reconsider the millennia-old relationship between their own nation and that of the Jews.

Hopefully, full scale war can now be avoided. Iran, for a number of reasons–especially after recently being badly bloodied by Israel in Syria and a new “approach” by a new American administration with a backbone in Washington–appears to have agreed to greatly scale down its Syrian adventure, with possibly other good stuff to follow. Together with new, tougher American economic sanctions, the withdrawal from President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry’s one-sided, pathetic nuclear agreement, and such, the tremendous discontent now brewing in Iran will yield much better results than that of the Obama era when America stood by and did nothing during the Iranian tragedy and travesty of 2009.

The “Cyrus Cylinder”/Kurash Prism–bearing a message from the past from one of the world’s greatest leaders of all time–points the way to a much better future…not only for Jews and Persians, but for all other peoples as well. Freedom, tolerance, acceptance of human differences, and mutual respect are just some aspects of the vision that it offers. With the exception of the much reviled nation of the Jews, when is the last time anyone heard something like that coming out of other leaders in the Middle East?

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