Too bad; I saw “A Serious Man” on Saturday and just knew in my heart that he would have loved it. On the one hand, this counter-scoop from the Guardian would answer my question about why, if his original surname’s been widely known for years, no one accused him of having Jewish roots until just recently. Answer: Because it’s not really a Jewish name, silly.

On the other hand, that’s what Mossad would want us to believe, isn’t it?

Professor David Yeroshalmi, author of The Jews of Iran in the 19th century and an expert on Iranian Jewish communities, disputes the validity of this argument. “There is no such meaning for the word ‘sabour’ in any of the Persian Jewish dialects, nor does it mean Jewish prayer shawl in Persian. Also, the name Sabourjian is not a well-known Jewish name,” he stated in a recent interview. In fact, Iranian Jews use the Hebrew word “tzitzit” to describe the Jewish prayer shawl. Yeroshalmi, a scholar at Tel Aviv University’s Center for Iranian Studies, also went on to dispute the article’s findings that the “-jian” ending to the name specifically showed the family had been practising Jews. “This ending is in no way sufficient to judge whether someone has a Jewish background. Many Muslim surnames have the same ending,” he stated…

According to both Naji and Tait, Ahmadinejad’s father Ahmad was in fact a religious Shia, who taught the Quran before and after Ahmadinejad’s birth and their move to Tehran. So religious was Ahmad Sabourjian that he bought a house near a Hosseinieh, a religious club that he frequented during the holy month of Moharram to mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hossein.

Moreover, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s mother is a Seyyede. This is a title given to women whose family are believed to be direct bloodline descendants of Prophet Muhammad…

The reason that Ahmadinejad’s father changed his surname has more to do with the class struggle in Iran. When it became mandatory to adopt surnames, many people from rural areas chose names that represented their professions or that of their ancestors. This made them easily identifiable as townfolk. In many cases they changed their surnames upon moving to Tehran, in order to avoid snobbery and discrimination from residents of the capital.

Er, okay, but then (a) why, per the Telegraph’s story over the weekend, is “Sabourjian” supposedly on the list of surnames reserved in Iran for Jews, and (b) what’s up with the two Iranian experts, one of whom is named, in the Telegraph piece asserting that there’s a Jewish connection here? The answers don’t matter for geopolitical purposes, but the blogosphere relies on the Telegraph regularly for info and if they’re feeding people crap in an attempt to discredit Ahmadinejad internally, it’d be good to know that. Any Iran experts willing and able to shed light on the contradictions here?