Jewish Journal


October 5, 2009

Mahmoud the Jew?


The news yesterday from London’s Daily Telegraph seemed like the kind of conspiracy theory story more common to the Muslim world. (Remember that Pakistani report about Osama bin Laden being a crypto-Jew?) Now rumor has it that the mighty Zionists once counted as members of the tribe the clan from which Iranian nut-job-in-chief Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hails. Seriously:

A photograph of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots.

A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.

The short note scrawled on the card suggests his family changed its name to Ahmadinejad when they converted to embrace Islam after his birth.

The Sabourjians traditionally hail from Aradan, Mr Ahmadinejad’s birthplace, and the name derives from “weaver of the Sabour”, the name for the Jewish Tallit shawl in Persia. The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran’s Ministry of the Interior.

Experts last night suggested Mr Ahmadinejad’s track record for hate-filled attacks on Jews could be an overcompensation to hide his past.

Ali Nourizadeh, of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, said: “This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad’s background explains a lot about him.

“Every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith.

“By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections. He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society.”

Logically, it would make sense. Nourizadeh is correct: Part of converting includes deeply splitting from traditions of the past, even attacking them. And a Jewish family tree doesn’t play well in Arab politics.

However, Karmel Melamed, The Jewish Journal’s resident Iranian Jewish expert, isn’t buying it. He says that after a morning of interviews and lingual study, he “cannot verify a single shred of evidence that would suggest this story is accurate in anyway.” Read more of that here.

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