My Local Pharmacy, My Fantasy Israel

I have a soft spot in my heart for Pharmacies, a major reason being that my father used to own one in Tehran for more than 10 years (until 1988 in Kooy-e Nasr Neighbourhood, on the  corner of Forouzanfar and 9th street).

I used to help out after school and during the holidays. He constantly had Voice of Israel Persian, BBC Persian and Voice of America Persian on his radio transistor in the store room every single evening blaring out news and analysis of the day’s events. And he wonders why I didn’t follow his footsteps!

But there is something very special about my local “SuperPharm” on the corner of Dizengoff and Gordon street in Tel Aviv.

Its like the microcosm of the Israel I dream about: its well organized, friendly but most important of all, its inclusive.

In my local branch you will find numerous Arab Israelis working as pharmacists, there is a deaf girl who works in the store room, Russian ladies in the make up section and there is a transgender person who serves at the check out counter. This is in addition to a range of Israelis from European and Middle Eastern heritages working in different positions.

Its so amazing to go there.

If Theodore Herzl had been alive, he would have wanted to shop there, just to see his version of Zionism in action, one which according to Israel’s declaration of independence:

“Will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

And what would he have bought at my local pharmacy?

Well I leave it up to you….tell me what you think…

Happy Birthday BBC Persian TV

Today is BBC Persian TV‘s fourth birthday.

A big heart felt Tavelodet Mobarak (happy birthday in Persian) to the channel and an even bigger congratulation to all my friends and colleagues who work there. 

In my humble opinion, it is by far the best Persian language TV news station. Today BBC Persian is gold standard in Persian language news sources in terms of its objectivity and accuracy.

Over the years VOA Persian has also been improving, which is great news, but in my opinion, BBC Persian still leads the way. I hope to see VOA Persian reach the same level soon. With great presenters such as Siamak Dehghanpour, Saman Arbabi (I hope he will be reunited with Kambiz Hosseini soon) and Arash Sigarchi, it is definitely moving in the right direction.

And it has not been easy for BBC Persian. The regime is detaining and threatening the family members of its staff in Iran because it does not like the contents of the news which BBC Persian produces.

And on the other side of the scale, there are some Iranians who believe that BBC Persian is an “agent of the Islamic republic in Tehran” because of its more nuanced approach towards news, and its insistence on fact checking as well as balanced coverage.

Their insistence on objectivity even ruffled my feathers once. On the eve of the Iranian elections in 2009, I turned up to their studios in Washington DC for an interview, wearing a green tie. It was my way of showing support to Mr Mousavi’s reformists who I strongly believe want a better future for Iran and Iranians. Upon arrival, their host said there is no way that anyone is turning up on camera wearing a tie which supports any of the factions in Iran as BBC Persian does not wish to be seen to be taking sides. I insisted to no avail. I respect them for that. (And to be honest I also expected that this might happen, so I brought a black university tie as well :-))

The green tie which BBC Persian did not let me wear. Isn’t it beautiful? :-))

Apart from that the only other complaints I have ever received with regards to my work with BBC Persian has been from my relatives and Iranian – Jewish family friends, who call my parents to say چرا انقدر پسر شما بدی نتانیاهو را میگه? “why does your son always criticize Netanyahu?”….well, somethings will never change…

Happy Birthday BBC Persian TV. I hope one day you get to report from our beloved Iran.