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In keeping with honesty, Majd gives us the straight dope about Western hypocrisy in Iranian foreign relations. What precisely did Iran do, for example, to become a candidate for George W. Bush's Axis of Evil? It funds Hezbollah and dislikes Israel. Is this evil? Not for most Iranians. In the 's Majd was a college student in the U. As the son of an Iranian diplomat who worked for the U. He knew enough to be careful of what he did and said in order to protect his family back home. After the '79 Islamic revolution Mr. Madj became a supporter of Sayed Khatami who was President of the republic from to Khatami and Madj are family, probably cousins but I don't know how close or distant.

Suffice it to say that the author, an American, an Iranian, has been deeply immersed in Iran his entire life. He teaches us about the Iranian concept of oghdeh , where people and society are expected to be complex, ambiguous and contradictory. Don't shake your head or roll your eyes over blatant conflicts. Things are never concrete. Oghdeh is part of the fabric of Iranian life.

Things are never linear and simple. Life is a puzzle-- figure it out. Iranians often speak and write using the age-old, traditional device of ta'arouf. Employing ta'arouf one might disarm an adversary with excessive praise as a means of softening him up. It seems to be a kind of passive-aggressive sleight-of hand, a backdoor one-upsmanship, beating around the bush as a tactic.

Don't we all do this? But Iran has had many more centuries of practice. While reading this book I got the impression that oghdeh and ta'arouf have become impediments to our understanding of the Persian psyche and of the nation itself. I was disappointed that the author did not tackle the issue of nuclear power.

I was looking forward to his views.

The Ayatollahs' Democracy

It's clear that he disagrees with Western attitudes and economic sanctions. He doesn't see why the West should have nuclear power but not Iran.


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But he needs to address other issues such as Ahmadenijad's defiance of the United Nations and, well, the bomb! I'm hoping to see the discussion in his next book or in articles on his website.

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Majd takes pains to delve into the Iranian Jewish community in order to question the existence of religious freedom in Iran. A talented writer, he presents the two politicians as distinct opposites. Yet they seem to speak with the same voice: We are Iranians first, Jews second. We don't care about Israel. As long as they don't support Israel.


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  • Majd visits the Tehran Jewish Committee, the largest such organization in Iran, he interviews two influential leaders who speak with similar voices-- they sound almost identical to the current and former MP's. All of these influential Jewish citizens of Iran are incredibly careful with their words, especially when responding to the author's queries about Israel.

    Madj tells us that there are 25, Jews in Iran. The republic is disdainful of Jews who emigrate, especially when they choose Israel. The position of the Iranian government is that this constitutes a pay-off, a buy-out. I suspect the money is what it takes to cover expenses incurred in resettling.

    Wikipedia tells me that a Iranian census has roughly 9, Jews left in Iran we know that Wiki can be unreliable.

    The Ayatollah's Democracy

    This book was published in Whether it's 9, or 25,, a lot of Jews have left Iran since the '79 revolution when the Jewish population was 80, Tens of thousands have gone to Israel, Europe, Canada, America and elsewhere. They did not leave because they were so happy and free in the Islamic Republic. And they did not leave because they were bought off for a crummy ten grand apiece. Having interviewed influential Iranian Jews, the author attempted to visit a "couple of working class Jewish families in their homes Madj's friend who set up the interviews said, "they're a little afraid Hooman Madj: Jews are completely free, but not free to support Israel.

    Jews are equal citizens, except when they're not. Iranian Jews must not travel to Israel, except when they do. Iranian-Israelis are not welcome back in Iran, except when they are. That's Iran. And it's big time oghdeh! Hooman Madj-- keep the books coming! View all 9 comments. Oct 09, Louise rated it really liked it Shelves: iran. While this book moves through time according to, perhaps, the author's whim, there is a lot here that the lay reader would not have access to in any other way. Hooman Majd is an Iranian American, bi-lingual and connected to key players in Iranian politics.

    The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge - eBook - inluthosi.tk

    He de-mystifies Iran and presents it in a way that enables outsiders to understand its people and leaders. This new book is a political p While this book moves through time according to, perhaps, the author's whim, there is a lot here that the lay reader would not have access to in any other way. This new book is a political portrait. Majd reveals more about himself than he does in the previous volume.

    In his youth, as the child of a diplomat for the Shah's Iran he moved about internationally and saw the intrusiveness of the Shah's surveillance program. The backdrop of this book is the election which he visits and revisits with the themes that "Everything is true.

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    He frames the election as a dramatic play and writes of events in the aftermath that the average American might not otherwise discover. For instance, he tells of the difficulties of a government representative attempting to explain the repression on the streets of Tehran to an audience of US based ex-pats. Ahmadinejad, in an attempt to make himself look, perhaps, more modern? There is some information on the difference between Pahlavi father and son vis a vis the clergy before rejoining the narrative of Iran's recent history.

    Iran's international outreach program is fascinating, with information that is easily accessible to those who read dry State Department documents, but not the average American.


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    Majd has an interesting series of interviews with Iranian Jews, again, insight not readily available to most Americans. As with his other book there is a lot of discussion of the "man on the street" and they ARE all men such as his attitudes towards the election, the clergy, minorities, and insight into how Ahmadinejad positions himself and how he is vulnerable to the forces of internal politics. Favorable press for Majd's relative by marriage, past President Khatami, is sprinkled throughout, be it that Khatami graciously stepped aside for Mousavi to run although he'd be a weaker president than Khatami ; Khatami is difficult for the hard liners to control; Khatami provided a widely recognized framework for civil rights for Jews etc.

    It's had to assign stars to something like this since the insight is rare and important. The organization, the use of Persian terms sometimes defined and sometimes not , the lack of female voices and its general ramble give this book an air of haste. I'm going to give this one 4 stars and hope that Majd's next book which I will read is more carefully thought out. Jul 26, Antti Salovaara rated it it was amazing.

    The Ayatollahs' Democracy is a good, refreshingly personal yet still analytic, look on Iran. Hooman Majd's book draws from a number of sources, including his own past as the son of an Iranian diplomat, and avoids a major pitfall of political books; dullness.

    This is partially due to the book being written as a reporter's view instead of a social scientific study, but it's also due to Majd's great skill as a writer. This is a book that really helps one to understand Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran, like pretty much every society in the world, is full of controversies, paradoxes and things that seem strange to an outsider.

    Majd embraces this, maybe even a bit too much, and shows Iran in both good and bad. We are, after all, talking about a country where a religious institution controls the democratically at least until elected government. Yet, unlike most other states in the region, it has a democratic system. At least in the Ahmadinejad era, Iran is probably the number one enemy of Israel.