Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rita: Shah Doomad ('King Of Grooms')

Iran-Israel Relations

The Iranian-Israeli pop superstar, Rita Jahanforuz, simply known as Rita, sings "Shah Doomad," or King of Grooms" [see]. This song is popular at Persian weddings.

Note that an estimated 8,756 Jews reside in Iran, according to the 2011 census, its population significantly lower than what it was before the 1979 Iranian Revolution (i.e., 80,000 Jews).

Even so, this is a reminder that music not only crosses boundaries, but also brings individuals of different cultural, religious and national backgrounds together. An article in The Jewish Journal ("Iranian Jews and Muslims Unite Over Rita"; November 20, 2012), by Karmel Melamed, expands that thought:
Rita serves as an ambassador of goodwill from Israel not only because she speaks and sings in Farsi, but because she represents the Iranian segment of Israeli society that embraces its cultural heritage from Iran and would one day like to renew relations with individuals in its former homeland. Her music, and its message of peace, provides a nonpolitical way to counter the Iranian regime’s repeated calls for Israel’s destruction.
Such cultural connections run deep. Even though there are currently high tensions in the Middle East over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the majority of non-Jewish Iranians living in the United States and Europe, and countless others living in Iran, harbor no ill will toward Israel or the Jewish people. Likewise, countless Jews and Muslims of Iranian heritage living in the United States have maintained strong friendships that predate the 1979 Iranian revolution, because of their common language and the common culture they share.
Rita, who was born in Iran in 1962 and immigrated with her family to Israel in 1970, represents a segment of the Iranian community in Israel that never witnessed firsthand the Iranian revolution, and yet still feels a strong sense of nostalgia for Iran and Iranian culture.
This music serves as a reminder that there is often a great difference between official government policy and what individuals think and do. It's important that, as thinking rational individuals, we do not allow ourselves to get sucked into blind tribal allegiances; politics is not the only way to make connections, or better yet to open doors to peace. It's what politicians think is the only reality, and they work hard to maintain that powerful illusion. But then again they are often the last to know what's happening beneath them.


You can listen to the song [here]