I wasn't really sure we could top last week's list of disclosures about celebrities and politicians. To recap: David Letterman is a philanderer. John Edwards is an (alleged) serial philanderer. And if there were any remaining doubts, Roman Polanksi really is a child rapist. But here's one secret I'm quite certain none of us saw coming: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is . . . wait for it . . . Jewish.
But apparently it is. According to a story that broke over the weekend in London's Daily Telegraph, a photograph of the president holding up his national identity card during the recent Iranian elections provides evidence that he is Jewish.
That document reveals that his original last name -- Sabourjian -- is a well-known Jewish surname in Iran, one that even connotes that his family was once observant. A note scribbled on the card also shows that his parents changed their last name to "Ahmadinejad" after they converted to Islam when he was born. Although Ahmadinejad has never denied that his name was changed, he has never offered an explanation.
To be fair, he's not the first famous person to be "discovered" to be Jewish. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is probably the most prominent American in recent times. (If you haven't read Michael Kinsley's send-up of this phenomenon in Slate, it's a must.)
But Ahmadinejad is in a category all by himself. While Albright -- improbably, perhaps -- claims that she really didn't know she was Jewish, Ahmadinejad did. As The Daily Telegraph speculates, this fact goes a long way towards explaining why he's been at such pains over the years to . . . well, basically hate Jews. And not just hate them in some sort of mild way, hate them in the most vile and despicable fashion: by denying the Holocaust ever occurred. He needed desperately to do so in order to shore up his cred in radical Shia circles.
Hey, I'm a big believer in unlocking family secrets as a way to cleanse yourself and move forward. And I do now feel that I have some insight into this guy that had heretofore been lacking.
I'm also a big believer in tolerance and making room for as many people as possible under any given umbrella. As someone married to a Jewish man for 11 years with two kids we'd like to raise as Jewish, I'm all for inclusiveness when it comes to broadening the definition of "who counts" as a Jew.
But on this one I have to say, sorry, pal. You're on your own. This is a club where we don't want you.
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