Using the Palestinians

Azadeh Moaveni, Washington Post, Janaury 25:

During a recent trip to Tehran, I noticed that the Benetton shop in my old neighborhood of Darrous was closed, its windows papered over. In the past, fundamentalists offended by the shop’s immodest displays had decried its immorality and spread rumors of “Zionist ownership.” This time, however, they set the place on fire — not to protest the mannequins, dressed in the latest fashions, sans veils, but rather to protest the carnage in the Gaza Strip. Though my visit happened to coincide with the Israeli offensive that killed an estimated 1,300 Palestinians over three weeks, I hadn’t expected the conflict to reverberate in my old neighborhood.

If anything, I’ve always found that my former neighbors — many deeply pious, but not known for any special antipathy toward Israel — are, like the majority of Iranians, resentful of Iran’s support for militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah…

The government cast the conflict in essentially Shiite Islamic terms — an outnumbered, “mazloom” (oppressed) people massacred by a more powerful, evil army. “The Israelis are truly loathsome,” a cousin said one evening, transfixed by the deftly edited images on the broadcast, though I could swear that he’d uttered the same words about Hamas in the past.

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