J.J. Goldberg

Surprising, Yet Not Surprising: Ahmadinejad and Other Self-hating Jews

By J.J. Goldberg

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The course of Middle East politics probably won’t be changed drastically by the news, reported October 3 in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was born Jewish. But the disclosure is intriguing enough to spark a whole new line of speculation. The Forward’s Nathan Guttman suggests that Ahmadinejad’s obsessive Jew-bashing may be an extreme case of Jewish self-hatred. Nathan’s being playful, but the Telegraph quotes scholars who take the idea seriously.

According to the Telegraph, Ahmadinejad was born to a Jewish family named Sabourjian, which can be translated “tallis-weaver.” Mahmoud’s father Ahmad Sabourjian changed the name when the family converted to Islam — which took place, the paper says, after the future president’s birth.

The Telegraph actually isn’t the first to out Ahmadinejad as a Jew. Radio Free Europe carried the news back in January 2009, following a blog post on the topic by the son of a pro-Ahmadinejad cleric. But the Telegraph goes further: It found an official document that seems to confirm Ahmadinejad’s origins.

Not everybody is buying it. Politico quotes Iranian-born Israeli analyst Meir Javedanfar, who wrote a biography of the Iranian leader, pooh-poohing the whole notion. On the other hand, it’s possible that Javedanfar is just peeved because he missed the scoop.

It’s important to recall that Ahmadinejad is not the first prominent Jew-hater with roots in the community. Indeed, he joins a proud line. Russian lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, perhaps the most influential antisemite in post-Soviet Russia, admitted in a 2001 book — after years of denying it — that his father, Wolf Eidelshtein, was Jewish. Zhirinovsky himself bore the name Eidelshtein until he had it changed at age 18.

Then there’s Brooklyn-born chess master Bobby Fischer, who had a Jewish mother and a German father. He began spewing wildly antisemitic ideas during his eccentric, paranoia-plagued later years in self-imposed exile.

But no one has yet matched the self-loathing antisemitism of the champion antisemite of all time, Adolf Hitler. He may or may not have had a Jewish grandfather but he was haunted by the possibility that he might have. Hitler’s father Alois was born out of wedlock, and the identity of Alois’s father — Adolf’s paternal grandfather — remains unknown. One persistent theory is that the old guy was Jewish, possibly a businessman who employed Alois’s mother Maria as a domestic. Most respectable Hitler scholars dismiss the idea, but it seems unquestionable that Hitler himself was quite anxious about it, as psycho-historian George Victor wrote convincingly in his 1998 book “Hitler: The Pathology of Evil.” Among the bits of evidence of Hitler’s anxiety is the widely reported fact that Hitler went into a panic when his British-born nephew William tried briefly to blackmail Uncle Adolf in the 1930s by threatening to go public with the family secret.

An odd sidebar: Nephew Willy Hitler ended up settling on Long Island during the war years, and after a brief lecture tour (based on his Look magazine article, “Why I Hate My Uncle”) and a stint in the U.S. Navy he married and changed his last name in order to sever the family link. Three of his four sons still live in Patchogue, L.I., where they tried for years to avoid publicity and tried to keep their new last name secret. None of them ever married or had children, reputedly so that the Hitler line can come to an end. Curiously, though, Willy’s oldest son is named Alexander Adolf, something the son still says he’s at a loss to explain. And the family name that Willy chose for his sons to bear is Stuart-Houston, a seemingly transparent homage to Houston Stewart Chamberlain, the father of the theory that Germany has a historic mission to destroy the Jews. Whoops.

Shirley Tetley Mon. Oct 5, 2009

There is evil in all of us, wheter we be English,German, Jewish or, whatever. It's simply human nature. I do not understand why Adolf Hitler thought himself to be so superior to everyone, but I do know this, Some people may have access to more learned experiences than I have, but I don't believe they are any more intelligent than I. anyone can become whatever they want to and some prefer to go in the way of evil, or they have mental problems that make them do evil things. I do not think Hitler was a sane man, and I have nothing to base this on except my own opinion. I believe I am entitled to that.

Thanks for allowing me to sound off on this subject.


Peter Mon. Oct 5, 2009

Hitler's paternal grandmother worked as a domestic servant for a Jewish family, with, if I recall correctly, the surname Frankenberg. In that household was not only the father, the businessman you referred to in your column, but also his 17-year-old son. No one will likely ever know who made Hitler's paternal grandmother pregnant, but it certainly may have been one of the two Jewish men in the household she worked in.

Peter Mon. Oct 5, 2009

See this link which disputes that Ahmadinejad has Jewish roots.

Peter Mon. Oct 5, 2009

The link didn't post. Look at the Guardian, a UK newspaper for the October 5, 2009 article.

MARK HARPER Mon. Oct 5, 2009


fuck the Jews Tue. Oct 6, 2009

That was obvious! He is not Iranian He just helped Jews to kill more Palestinian He is not the only Jew in Iran's government they are more than that...

Arnaldo Buchmann Tue. Oct 6, 2009

.Eveyone famous in history or a declared jewbasher was considered to have jewish ancestry.At the beginning of this mania were the jews themselves propagating this non sense,now looks like the gentiles got the disease.So,in order to contribute to the mithology,here are the results of my research:Stalin,Lenin,Mao Ze dong,Franco,Mussolini,Ho Chi Minh,Nasser and De Gaulle(their long crooked eagle noses are highly suspicious),all the popes,Mother Teresa of Calcutta,the entire population of Calcutta,and the UFO pilots,are all jews diguised or not.It is all a damned jewish conspiracy.

sharonsj Wed. Oct 7, 2009

I have read scholarly and factual refutations of the claim that Ahmadinejad has Jewish ancestry. More likely the claim originates with Arabs who like to denigrate those they oppose by claiming they are really Jews.

Johan Wed. Oct 7, 2009

It is totally true! He is a Jew because he helped Israel to kill more Palestinians In words he is anti-Jew but in reality he is their friend

Johannnnnnnnn Thu. Oct 8, 2009

Not only was Ahmadinejad born as Saborjian, but his original first name was Norman. From Norman Saborjian to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Jack Fri. Oct 9, 2009

Is he Norman G. Saborjian or Norman H. Saborjian? Or the other Norman Saborjian who's a lawyer?

Quazal Fri. Oct 23, 2009

Yes, Ahmadinejad is a jew. He has been put in power by your jewish leaders in order to create a false enemy. By this way, common people of Israel are afraid of the new Hitler (Ahmadinejad or any other iranian leader). And thus, they are always mobilized against the imaginary enemy.

Ask yourself why Ahmadinejad would want a nuclear power plant just when there is a massive international hysteria against Iran. He could wait ten years in order to let the pressure relapse. Iran has enough oil to wait this long. But no, he wants his nuclear power plant now, thus maintaining and increasing the hysteria against Iran and threatening it to be defeated and invaded by the US army. Completely illogical if he is a real muslim iranian leader. Logical if he is a jew put there to let common jews keep fearing an imaginary enemy.

This is also why Palestinian have not yet been expelled from Palestine. you leaders want you to fear the "abominable" palestinian muslim terrorists in order to stay mobilized. Otherwise, Palestinian would have been expelled from Palestine since a long time.

If common jews were conscious that their leaders control all the governments of the middle-east, they would stop to be hyper mobilized. They would say "oh, well, ok, it's cool. We dominate. So, lets rest a little".

But this kind of though is inaccessible to most of common jews. When you see that most of them still think that the French government was sometimes hostile to Israel (whereas France has been dominated by your leaders since at least the fall of the 19th century), you understand the long way they have to go to understand things like that.

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