Dear Community,

We are continuing to improve our newsletter to you so that you can quickly peruse whatever interests you. Please forward it to friends and have them subscribe if they are not already subscribers.

We encourage our readers to participate in the newsletter and from time to time, we will publish the remarks of the members of the community on topics relating to Iran, Judaism, Israel, and America. We, of course will stay away from anything political.

We invite our readers as well to give opinions on the following topic: 
“What have you done that has been effective in having our youth be proud of being Jewish and Iranian?  Every once in a while, we will publish the most well written brief articles.

Shabbat Shalom.

M. Elie Alyeshmerni, President

From Despair to Hope

Haideh Herbert-Aynehchi was born and raised in Tehran. She achieved a BS in psychology and an MA in English Language and Literature from Tehran University and taught English for twenty years mostly at Tehran University Language Center as an instructor, teacher trainer, and program coordinator. 

In Los Angeles, she taught English and mentored new teachers for LAUSD, and served as an adjunct faculty teaching Persian at Santa Monica College.

Experiencing difficulties with her vocal cords, Haideh changed gears, received a second master’s degree in counseling with an emphasis on rehabilitation from Cal State University Los Angeles, and served as a vocational evaluator and supervisor at JVS, and as a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at California State Department of Rehabilitation. In this capacity, she conducted vocational evaluations and career counseling for clients with disabilities, veterans and clients with history of substance abuse and other barriers to employment.

In retirement, she is an executive board member and co-chair of the Emergency Fund at IAJF. She is also a member of Advisory Board at the Jewish Language Project in cooperation with Hebrew Union College, Wikitongues, and Center for Protection of Endangered Languages. She conducts interviews with remaining speakers of endangered Judeo-Persian language in order to help preserve these languages after the mass immigration of part of the Jewish population of Iran.

Haideh is an author, with published textbooks and short stories. Her full-length memoir Neither the Head nor the Tail of the Onion about Jewish life in Iran before and after the Islamic Republic is ready for publication. 

Dr. Sharon Nazarian is the President of the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Family Foundation. 

The UCLA search committee made up of UCLA faculty members selected Professor Dov Waxman to chair the UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. The Center chose to invite the director of the movie “Israelism” to be presented at UCLA. The movie is controversial.  We invite you to read David Suissa’s article copied with permission (see below). 

Among those who oppose showing the film without a counterbalance is Mr. Naty Saidoff, founder of IAC. He has written a sentence that is worth repeating:  “Ideology built on lies once propagated kills people”.

We have asked Dr. Sharon Nazarian to speak to that controversy.

Here is Dr. Sharon Nazarian’s text: 

“The UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies is an independent academic Center with its academic director, Professor Dov Waxman at the helm. As the founder of the Center and the Chair of its community advisory board, I do not have any prior visibility on the Center’s programming as a matter of principle, because the academic independence of the Center is critical. I feel strongly that if deemed not independent, the very legitimacy of the Center could be questioned.
I will however share a few personal perspectives:
The Center is committed to academic rigor, interdisciplinary teaching, and scholarship, with a dispassionate approach. It seeks to promote a broader and deeper understanding of Israel’s history, politics, society, and culture. It also hopes to foster a more productive and civil discourse about Israel, inside and outside the classroom, at a time when discussions about Israel are often heated and becoming increasingly polarized. In everything that it does, the Center’s goal is education—to advance knowledge and academic scholarship about Israel for Jewish and non-Jewish students, for those who consider themselves pro-Israel, those who are harsh critics of Israeli policy and those who know little about Israel. The mission of the Center is not advocacy. In order to achieve its stated goal, the Center offers a wide range of perspectives on Israel, as you can see from both the courses as well as public programming offered; please see UCLA Nazarian Center of Israel Studies’ website. I am very proud of the breadth and depth of programmatic offerings of the Center, both to our students and to our community at large.
The documentary referenced is one that was requested by students, and the Center offered to screen it as a tool of study through an academic lens. I have now screened it after concerns from some in our community were brought to my attention. 
The documentary is a one-sided, misinformed, and blatant propaganda piece aimed squarely at American Jewish youth in an effort to misrepresent a complex conflict with simplistic rhetoric. It fails to point to important realities in Israel’s history and experience, such as acts of war perpetrated against Israel and acts of terrorism committed against innocent Israeli civilians throughout Israel’s history. With that being said, however, I also believe that the film does not meet standards set out by the IHRA definition that would label it as antisemitic. If the film had met the standards set out by the IHRA definition, I would cross that editorial programming line and ask our Center director not to screen the documentary. 
As an active National board member and former SVP of International Affairs at ADL, I want to emphasize that engaging university students on university campuses has become a harder and harder task. Finding the right tools to attract a wider scope of students requires the Center to engage on issues facing Israel with confidence and openness. The breadth and variety of perspectives offered assure the goals set out by the Center – depth, nuance, and complexity in the understanding of Israel today.
As is the mission of the Center to educate, I have full confidence that Professor Waxman will address these flagrant omissions with the director of the documentary in the Q&A portion of the program, and we can trust that our students at UCLA, (some of the best and brightest in the country) will decipher for themselves the value of this documentary – one that lacks rigor and is so agenda driven that renders it ineffective.”

For those interested in delving deeper into Iranian Jewish history
the Iranian American Jewish Federation has a limited number of complimentary copies.
Please contact us to arrange for pickup.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *