Parsa (1922-1980) was an important figure in Iranian politics and in the women’s
rights movement of the Middle Eastern country. She served as Iran’s Minister of
Education during the last pre-Islamic revolution, and was the first female
cabinet minister in the Iranian government. She was an outspoken supporter of
women’s rights, and pushed heavily to secure votes for women.
She was elected to Parliament in 1963, and was a driving force behind
legislations that improved the status of women. She also had a medical degree
and worked as a biology teacher and a physician. She was executed by firing
squad after the Islamic Cultural Revolution.
Female interns and law graduates, stage a sit-in which lasted for a week at Tehran central courthouse (1978)
The sit-in was done to protest the new Islamic government ban on female judges, which the new government considered it to be against Sharia law. Iranian women could become judges before the revolution but they lost that right after the revolution. The sit-in ended after a week when the government forced the participators out.
Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian nobel peace prize winner was one of the female judges who lost her job after the Islamic revolution.
In honor of the Jewish state’s 69th birthday, we present, in no particular order, 10 little-known aspects of modern Israel’s history.
1. El Al used to fly to Tehran.
Iran and Israel enjoyed mostly good relations up until the Islamic revolution that overthrew the shah in 1979. Iran recognized Israel in 1950, becoming the second Muslim-majority country to do so (after Turkey). Iran supplied Israel with oil during the OPEC oil embargo, Israel sold Iran weapons, there was brisk trade between the countries, and El Al flew regular flights between Tel Aviv and Tehran. All that ended a week after the shah’s ouster, when Iran’s new rulers cut ties with Israel and transferred its embassy in Tehran to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Even after 35 years of hostilities, however, Iranians have less antipathy toward Jews than any other Middle Eastern nation. A 2014 global anti-Semitism survey by the Anti-Defamation League found that 56 percent of Iranians hold anti-Semitic views — compared to 80 percent of Moroccans and 93 percent of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. For more on Israelis in Iran, check out the 2014 documentary “Before the Revolution.”
2. Israel is home to hundreds of Nazi descendants.
At least 400 descendants of Nazis have converted to Judaism and moved to Israel, according to filmmakers who made a documentary about the phenomenon several years ago. In addition, others converted to Judaism or married Israelis but do not live in the Jewish state – such as Heinrich Himmler’s great-niece, who married an Israeli Jew and lives overseas.
In Israel’s early years, the state was roiled by a debate over whether to accept German reparations for the Holocaust (it did), and Germany remained a controversial subject: From 1956 until 1967, Israel had a ban on all German-produced films.
The tiny pasta balls known as Israeli couscous – called ptitim in Hebrew – were invented in the 1950s at the behest of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who asked the Osem food company to come up with a wheat-based substitute for rice during a period of austerity in Israel. The invention, which Israelis dubbed “Ben-Gurion’s rice,” was an instant hit.
4. Israel had no TV service till the late ‘60s.
The first Israeli TV transmission did not take place until 1966, and at first was intended only for schools for educational use. Regular public broadcasts began on Israeli Independence Day in May 1968.
This 1958 scene of a family watching television could not have been photographed in Israel, as the Jewish state had no TV until 1966. (Wikimedia Commons/JTA)
For almost two decades more, Israel had only one channel, and broadcasts were limited to specific hours of the day. A second channel debuted in 1986, and cable was introduced in 1990. Today, Israeli TV is a popular source for Hollywood scriptwriters: “Homeland” (Showtime), “In Treatment” (HBO), “Your Family or Mine” (TBS), “Allegiance” (NBC), “Deal With It” (TBS), “Tyrant” and “Boom” (Showtime) all are remakes of Israeli shows.
5. Queen Elizabeth II’s mother-in-law is buried in Jerusalem.
Prince Philip’s mother, born in 1885 as Princess Alice of Battenberg and congenitally deaf, spent much of her life in Greece after marrying Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark (yes, he was simultaneously prince of two different European countries). During the Nazi occupation of Greece, Alice hid a Jewish woman and two of her children from the Nazis, earning her eventual recognition by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial as a “Righteous Among the Nations” and by the British government as a “Hero of the Holocaust.”
She moved to London in 1967 to live in Buckingham Palace with her son and daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II. After the princess died two years later, her body was interred in a crypt at Windsor Castle. In 1988, she was transferred to a crypt at the Convent of Saint Mary Magdalene in Gethsemane on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives – honoring a wish she had expressed before her death. The Mount of Olives is home to the world’s oldest continuously used cemetery.
6. Alaska Airlines airlifted thousands of Yemenite Jews to Israel.
When anti-Jewish riots broke out in Yemen after Israel’s victory in the 1948 War of Independence, Yemen’s Jewish community decided to move en masse to the Jewish homeland. James Wooten, president of Alaska Airlines, was among those moved by their plight. Between June 1949 and September 1950, Alaska Airlines made approximately 430 flights in twin-engine C-46 and DC-4 aircrafts as part of Operation Magic Carpet, the secret mission that transported nearly 50,000 Jews from Yemen to Israel. Pilots had to contend with fuel shortages, sandstorms and enemy fire, and one plane crash-landed after losing an engine, but not a single life was lost aboard the flights.
Yusef Abad Synagogue (کنیسه یوسف آباد בית הכנסת יוסף-אבד) - Tehran, Iran
One of the largest synagogues in Iran, it was built in 1965 & officially opened on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year). The synagogue is located on Palestine street in Yusef Abad neighbourhood, north Tehran.
In November 2003 the then president, Mohammad Khatami, visited the synagogue becoming the first president of Iran to visit a synagogue since the Islamic revolution. Chief Rabbi Yosef Hamadani Cohen recited prayers & led the opening of the Torah scroll ark
Neshat created the Women of Allah series between 1993 and 1997 upon returning from a trip to Iran after many years in exile during and following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In this series, the veiled, gun-bearing women and the black-and-white photograph format suggest newspaper clippings showing Iranian women’s involvement in the Iran-Iraq War and Islamic Revolution. Handwritten verses over the body often act as an analogue to the spoken word and quote feminist poets and writers such as Furugh Farrukhzad and Tahira Saffarzada.
The Torah scroll is put away at the Yusef Abad synagogue in Tehran. According to a 2011 census, fewer than 10,000 Jews live in Iran, down from between 80,000 and 100,000 before the Islamic revolution in 1979
Satrapi (b. 1969) is an Iranian-born graphic
novelist and film director, most famous for her two-volume work Persepolis, which document her childhood
in her home country of Iran, and her coming-of-age in Europe. The books were
adapted into a film which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated
Feature, making Satrapi the first female director nominated in the category.
Both the book and the film were highly
successful internationally, and served to illustrate life in Iran during and
after the Islamic revolution. The author depicts the struggles of the new impositions
women had to face, and her rebellious journey to go against them.
“Men in Iran are wearing hijabs in a display of solidarity with women across the country who are forced to cover their heads in public. Wearing a headscarf is strictly enforced by so-called ‘morality police’ in Iran and has been since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Women who do not wear a hijab or are deemed to be wearing 'bad hijab’ by having some of their hair showing face punishments ranging from fines to imprisonment. State-funded adverts appearing on billboards in Iran present those who do not cover their hair as spoiled and dishonourable.
Women are also told that by not complying, they are putting themselves at risk of unwanted sexual advances from men. But women are leading protests against enforced hijab across the country and some have resorted to shaving their hair in order to appear in public without wearing a veil.
Over the last week, a number of men have appeared in photos wearing a hijab with their wife or female relative next to them who have their hair uncovered.
The images come in response to a call by Masih Alinejad, an Iranian activist and journalist living in New York, who is urging men to support her campaign against enforced hijab. “