Manipal, India — Although both of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s victories in the 2004 and 2009 presidential races were courtesy of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the wily Ayatollah may be preparing to remove a head of state that has become an international cartoon and a domestic embarrassment.
Those who have worked closely with Ahmedinejad claim that his decision to appoint the brilliant – if abrasive – Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei as his deputy was cleared informally by the Supreme Leader, as was Mashaei's reference last year to the "Jewish people" as friends of Iran – for which he has been widely criticized.
Indeed, both the Arab and the Persian people have a much better record of treatment of the Jewish minority than states in Europe such as Poland and Germany. Until Khomeinism became the state religion in 1979, Jews had an honored place in Iran and contributed disproportionately to business.
Even Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s first Supreme Leader, forbore from targeting the Jewish people as such, reserving his verbal venom for the state of Israel. Even today, several thousand Iranians belonging to the Jewish faith live in Iran, and apart from the storm trooper brigade represented by organizations such as the Revolutionary Guard, few Iranians look askance at what is an educated and liberal community, proud of their Iranian heritage.