While getting ready for work one morning I couldn’t help overhearing my mother reading her emails out loud. A morning ritual of hers I normally ignore but began listening to as she read, ‘Persian singer, Mohsen Yeganeh, who is extremely popular in Iran has a new anti-Semitic song against Israel.’
The lyrics say, ‘The flock of vultures has arrived again (refers to Jews) … They have cut the throats of a nation; their peace is just a facade … Two triangles they put on top of each other (refers to Star of David) … Two triangles mean fear and prison … They are the enemies of smiling children.’
Anger and frustration boiled inside me as my mother read the last lines of the email, but also disappointment as I recounted the night she and I attended Yeganeh’s concert in Atlanta three years ago. A concert she was reluctant to attend but agreed to go to just to make me happy. A concert which failed to entertain us after Yeganeh performed the same song three times. A concert I regret to have attended.
Yet, I’ve always enjoyed Persian music and can’t remember a time when it didn’t fill our home. After my parents and I immigrated from Iran to the United States they sought to enlist everything they knew about our culture in me which included famous Persian singers and songs.
Today, many of these singers continue to compose songs which often carry subliminal messages about Iran. Yet none, to my knowledge, have caused more controversy than Yeganeh’s song, ‘Flock of Vultures’.
I was still disheartened by the news by the time I reached my office and decided to conduct my own investigation. I knew if there was one place I could get more information it was Instagram.
I immediately pulled Yeganeh’s page and found a post which said that he had not released any videos other than ‘Behet Ghol Midam’ (I promise you) but did not offer an apology.
I continued my investigation however and pulled Yeganeh’s Facebook page where I discovered a number of comments from Muslim Iranians which supported the singer and countless more from Jewish Iranians which were against him.
I felt disappointed all over again however as I read the posts by the Muslim Iranians as I never could have imagined they would openly express their support for a singer promoting anti-Semitism in the United States.
Persian Jews and Muslims have lived side by side for centuries in Iran and decades in America and although we share different religions our culture and traditions are one and the same.
Every year Muslim and Jewish Iranians gather together to celebrate Nowruz (Persian new year) during the spring equinox. Every day we enjoy the same dishes and speak the same language (Farsi) .Yet, Yehaneh’s song was the first time, to my knowledge, a rift had occured in the community.
When asked about the controversy Yeganeh’s response according to an article in the Jewish Journal by Karmel Melamed was that he never tried to intentionally upset people and that the Iranian regime used his song in its video without his permission.
I later asked my mother about the song’s timeliness since it was actually written 10 years ago, but she said it didn’t matter. Since music is forbidden in Iran, singers are forced to comply with the regime in order to perform or go on tour.
Although the regime’s plot may have worked to promote acts of hate and bigotry against Jews, it failed to divide the community as hundreds of Jewish Iranians came together to protest Yeganeh’s concert Dec. 16 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
In a photo essay captured by Melamed scores of individuals are seen holding signs outside the theater as Muslim Iranian concert goers shout in Farsi, “F— you Jews! You messed up Iran and now you are messing up America” … “Yeganeh is right, you Jews kill Palestinians every day!”
Music serves as a universal language and helps unite people from different cultures and backgrounds and while I still love listening to Persian singers, Mohsen Yeganeh is no longer on my list.