Widespread reports that Holocaust-denying, Israel-hating Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may actually have a Jewish background himself are based on false speculation, and are most likely very untrue, said an Israeli expert on the Iranian Jewish community.
Over the weekend, London's Daily Telegraph published a photo of Ahmadinejad displaying his identify card during last year's election, and noted that the Iranian leader's original family name was Sabourjian. The article went on to claim that Sabourjian is a well known Jewish name meaning "cloth weaver" in Persian.
But on Monday, Tel Aviv University Professor David Yeroshalmi, a noted expert on Iranian Jews, told rival British tabloid The Guardian that "sabour" does not mean cloth, and certainly doesn't mean "Jewish prayer shawl" in Persian. He also noted that the suffix "-jian" is not distinctively Jewish, as many Iranian Muslims also have surnames that end in "-jian."
Yeroshalmi and others believe the original report was probably the result of Ahmadinejad's political opponents trying to defame him.