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Spot The Difference

Iran – July 2009

Charges of sedition are repeatedly made against reformists by hard line elements within the regime. These include the Ansar Hezbollah movement whose members comprise of senior Revolutionary Guards and Basij officials, as well as the ultra conservative Keyhan Newspaper, which is very close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Iran – July 2010

Charges of sedition are made against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by the political editor of the Keyhan newspaper, in a packed meeting full of Ansar Hezbollah members.

See the difference?

Just what is going on?


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Posted on : Jul 28 2010
Posted under Middle East |

MEA Weekend: Entertaining the young immigrant

For a 14 years old Jewish boy who had just left Iran, there were many interesting aspects of life in the west. But before I go on, I would like to clarify why my family decided to leave Iran, since it is a question which I have been asked by a number of you.

At that time, in 1987, the Iranian government issued a new law saying that all Jewish children had to go to school on the Sabbath. This was very worrying. Until then, Jewish traditions had been respected by the Islamic Republic. The fact that Jewish schools were now being forced to open and to teach on Judaism’s day of rest, was taken as a warning sign that things were about to get much worst for Iran’s Jews. That was during the days of Khamenei as president. Once Rafsanjani came to power, followed by Khatami, things improved. You still had to go to school on Shabbat, but other aspects of life for Jews, such as easier travel arrangements came about (there were severe discrimination against Jews who wanted to leave Iran, even for holiday, until Rafsanjani came to power).

There was also the Iraq vs Iran war. In Iran, once you turned 15 you were not allowed to leave the country until you finished doing your national service. In those days it meant going to the front lines and the chances of getting killed were quite high. As the war continued, morale dropped amongst increasing number of Iranians. Initially, it was a war of liberation against occupying Iraqis. However once Iran liberated most of its occupied land, Ayatollah Khomeini, much like George Bush also wanted to topple Saddam. This became the goal. Despite increasing casualties, there were hardliners who did not mind sending more young people to the front lines in order to achieve their political goals. Their goals were political, not nationalistic. Some of these officials still regret not having carried on with the war until Saddam was toppled. So increasing number of parents did not want their children to enlist in a war which had turned into a regime change project, by a regime which had little respect for its own people.

So here I was, just landed in the UK and learning about my new life in the west.

And being from an Esfahani background, my genetic affection for comedy was making me itch to find out about foreign comedians (people from Esfahan are known for their sense of humor, amongst other things, which I will discuss in later posts).

One interesting factor was the sheer number of Jewish comedians. I still can not believe my sense of shock at finding out such British comedians as Alexei Sayle, Warren Mitchell and Sid James were Jewish. One reason is because in Iran, comedy was not a typical Jewish job. We only had one Jewish comedian after the revolution, Manuchehr Azari.

My favorite comedian, by far was Woody Allen.

For this week’s MEA Weekend, I would like to share my favorite Woody Allen sketch, and the trailer from my favorite Woody Allen movie. Have a great weekend. Meir

Woody Allen – The Moose


Woody Allen – Bananas – The trailer


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Posted on : Jul 23 2010
Posted under Middle East |

Iran’s Deep Sea Troubles and Erdogan’s Israel Strategy

The US and EU are focusing on sanctions against what they see as Iran’s weak spots, such as its need to import gasoline from other countries.

However, there is one area of great weakness which could have significant impact on the west’s ability to inspect ships destined to Iran. This weakness will also ensure Iran’s dependence on foreign powers such as the UAE for the time being, while limiting its potential for growth. And that is its underdeveloped and outmoded port infrastructure.


Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has embarked on what many see as a sophisticated campaign against Israel. The success of Erdogan’s current campaign now depends on one factor more than any other: equilibrium.


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Posted on : Jul 13 2010
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Emerging Rupture in Iran-Turkey Relations

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has suddenly found himself reassessing his government’s burgeoning ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran – and sooner than expected.


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Posted on : Jul 05 2010
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MEA Weekend: Israeli Liberals vs Conservatives

Here in Israel, we have vibrant debates about many issues, including the peace process.

Unfortunately, many people around the world don’t have access to them, because they are in Hebrew.

Below is one such interesting debate, in English.

One the conservative side, we have Caroline Glick, conservative columnist for the Jerusalem Post.

And on the liberal side, we have Gershon Baskin, head of the Israel – Palestine Center for Research and Information.

This debate is a good indicator of the views held by the two opposing sides in Israel regarding this important matter. Long live Israel’s democracy, one of our most cherished achievements.


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Posted on : Jul 02 2010
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