TV appearance: #Iran and the question of women’s rights

24 Apr

Last night I participated in a 15 minute TV segment on i24 news about the question of women’s rights in Iran, where I talked about issues such as:

  • how its the question of women’s rights is viewed by different political factions in Iran
  • By different political personalities
  • The challenges and paradoxes of life for women in Iran
  • As well as the question of Islam and women’s rights in the Middle East


Through its brutality, #Iran regime shows fear

23 Apr

A week after a major brutal crackdown against Iranian prisoners in Tehran’s Evin prison, Gholamhossein Esmaili, the head of Iran’s prisons service is moved to another position. His new position is “prosecutor and head of the appeals court in Tehran”.

Hangings have increased after the election of Rouhani

Some believe that this was a quiet dismissal for Mr Esmaili. I disagree. Before this, he was in charge of prisons. Now he is one level higher where he can send people to prisons. If anything, this looks like a promotion.

There is no question that Esmaili should be placed under arrest. But this is Iran after all.

The reaction of the regime shows that brutality still rules.

More importantly, it shows fear. The regime is sending a message that anyone who rises against the regime will be violently put down, and anyone who helps the regime do this will be rewarded. That it will not back down.

The question we have to ask ourselves is: why now?

What is it about recent developments inside and outside of Iran which has made the regime so nervous? After all, the 2009 Green uprising is over. Its leaders are under house arrest. Iran has a new president who is a former insider and popular with the people. So what is making the regime so nervous and fearful these days?

Today Israel belonged to its Moroccans and not its Persians (anymore)

22 Apr

Last night and today the festival of Mimounah was celebrated in Israel.

President Peres at a Mimouna celebration

This festival belongs to Morocco’s Jewish community, which started celebrating it in the 18th century.

Its a one day festival which begins on the last day of the Jewish festival of Passover.

According to the Jewish Agency for Israel:

The Jews of Morocco began celebrating the Mimouna on the evening after Passover because they believed that during this night the heavens are open to our prayers.

This could explain why:

As a result of this belief, it was customary in many places in Morocco to set up matches between young men and women on the Mimouna eve.

There are Moroccan themed parties all over the country, especially in cities where there is a large Moroccan population. Politicians drop in to such parties as well, regardless of whether they are Moroccan or not.

Israel’s Iranian Jewish community also used to have a huge party on the same day, based on the concept of Sizdah Bedar which is the last day of the Nowrooz holiday. So the last day of the Passover holiday was our Sizdah Bedar. Thousands of Persians used to descend upon Ramat Gan’s Park Leumi. Prime Ministers and senior minister used to visit and praise Israel’s Persian community.

That was until about 5 years ago. Now days only a few hundred people turn up  to this event and no politicians. Why? because one of the biggest reasons why so many Persian turned up before was to find a suitable Persian husband/wife for their sons/daughters. Now that they are all married= mission accomplished = many Persians don’t see a big reason to turn up to this event.

But Moroccans do and God bless them. I love their music and their tradition. Here is Eti Levi, one of Israel’s Moroccan singer blasting some tunes.

Belated happy Mimounah and get ready to dance.

Ahmadinejad’s return may be boost for Rouhani

21 Apr

Rouhani is the anti-Ahmadinejad and vice versa.

Their supporters view the other side with deep suspicion and animosity.

Yet the return of Ahmadinejad to Iranian politics could be good news for Rouhani.

Sounds counter intuitive?

Read below to find out why it could make sense.

A Selfie to end all selfies?

18 Apr

Ellen DeGeneres’s “Selfie” from this year’s Oscar ceremony is the most famous selfie to date. According to ABC news, it was “the most retweeted tweet ever”

Since then, there have been a host of other “selfies” by celebrities, and politicians. The trend has been unstoppable.

The question is: will this apparent selfie be the one that ended all selfies?

Note the dark, self-made mark on his forehead. Harley Davidson riders get tattoos to show their loyalty to motorcycle riding and to their group, Iran’s ultra religious press their head so hard on the prayer stone until they get a bruise. Why? To show off their “piety” and loyalty to their religion.


BBC Podcast: The Rise and Fall of Arab Nationalism

17 Apr

The Arab world fascinates me, especially its rich history, culture, as well as the challenges and the opportunities which it faces.

Its also important as part of my job to follow events in the Arab world. What happens there impacts both Iran and Israel.

This morning, I listened to a podcast called “The Rise and Fall of Arab Nationalism”.

In the podcast Egyptian author Tarek Osmant:

 uncovers the history of the modern Arab world by tracing some of the great political dreams that have shaped it, from the 19th Century to the Arab Spring. Throughout the series, he focuses on two countries that are currently high on the news agenda – Egypt and Syria

You can find out the rest by listening to the podcast here

I highly recommend it.

President Abbas: what are you waiting for?

16 Apr

Two nights ago, off duty Israel Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi was killed in his car.

According to the JTA:

Mizrahi, 47, a father of five, was shot and killed while driving with his family to a Passover seder in the Jewish community in Hebron. His wife, who was in the car with him, and their 9-year-old son, who was in another car, also were wounded.

It’s not yet clear who was responsible. The security forces have not yet managed to find any suspects.

Despite that, what we can all agree on, is that this is terrorism, in its ugliest form. Shooting people who are travelling in cars packed full of women and children is horrendous and reprehensible. Such an act must be condemned immediately by all sides.

But Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has decided to wait until a full investigation of the incident was completed, and only then to condemn the killing.

What does he need to wait for? Why doesn’t Abbas condemn the killing by calling it a crime, no matter who was responsible? What exactly does he hope to gain from his “patience”? Who is he trying to please, the Palestinian extremists?

As a long time supporter of the establishment of a viable Palestinian state next to the state of Israel as part of a fair and just deal, I must say that I find Mahmoud Abbas’s behaviour regarding this matter disturbing and objectionable.

Mr Abbas, think about what you are doing, and the very negative message which you are sending to Israelis who want to live in peace with you.


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