Jewish Journal

Podcast: Iranian Jews and the taboo of discussing violence

by Karmel Melamed

May 2, 2008 | 4:49 pm

On March 20th, Alfred Hakim, 49, a Iranian Jewish resident of Beverly Hills, was allegedly shot by his 47-year-old brother, Adel. The incident rocked the local Iranian Jewish community which has been abuzz because such gun violence and violence in general is quite rare for the community. Now the incident may have been shocking for local Iranian Jews but what has amazed me has been the lack of community dialogue on the issue of violence. Just talking about domestic violence or other forms of violence is still taboo for the Iranian Jewish community because many feel that they be embarrassed or shamed into admitting the existence of violence in their families.

This taboo of discussing violent incidents in the Iranian Jewish community has been frustrating for me as a journalist because not very many individuals in the community are willing to go on the record to discuss the problems with this issue. Their silence has hindered my goal of educating and informing the community about certain trends and activities within their circles. Contrary to what many Iranian Jews in Los Angeles may think, reporting on and publicly acknowledging that the community has a serious problem with different forms of violence is not a bad thing. Only productive changes can be brought about with an open and honest dialogue about the issue and education about the impact of such violence. We cannot continue to sweep this issue under the rug and believe it will go away because has become worse each year among certain segments of the community.

My upcoming article in the L.A. Jewish Journal will be exploring this horrible taboo and the issue of violence among Iranian Jewry. In the meantime, our blog’s podcast recently chatted with a couple of community leaders who had the courage to pinpoint the community’s difficulities with certain types of violence and the roots of the problem. The podcast program can be heard here.

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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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