Within forty-eight hours, Iranians heeded the Israeli call—on Facebook.
Majid, a thirty-four-year-old landscape architect from Iran, launched an Iran-Loves-Israel campaign that reciprocated the message.
Still, after talking with her, and later with Zal and Rostam, it seemed to me that some of the attitudes Najmieh and her husband, Mohammad, held about family life were inspiring enough to be distilled into a little list.
Since it’s Mothers Day weekend, and this is the Internet, here goes: with a copy of her cookbook and some ancient manuscripts and another copy of her cookbook marked up with black Sharpie, just covered in comments.
She said her name—Najmieh Batmanglij—and I recognized her as the author of one of my favorite cookbooks, “Silk Road Cooking: A Vegetarian Journey,” the dog-eared paperback from which my husband had just that week cooked a cumin-scented rice polow with lentils, dates, and currants. They were four clean-cut Columbia grads who’d met in college and quickly created one of the most distinctive sounds and styles in contemporary rock—brainy, winsome lyrics peopled with characters out of a Whit Stillman movie or a Salinger story; a catchy, sunny amalgam of Afro pop and Anglo-American New Wave.
That was the last I saw of Najmieh until a few weeks ago.
With Vampire Weekend about to release its third album, “Modern Vampires of the City,” on May 14th, and Zal’s movie “The East” due out at the end of the month, I started thinking about the Batmanglij family and the particular alchemy that might have produced two such creatively successful children.
Despite the flowery words, some in the media were quick to point out that the two campaigns are hardly on equal footing: the Israeli version has by now become a cultural phenomenon, with Edry appearing on all the major television networks and narrating a You Tube video in English that ends with a plea for donations.
In Iran, the call for dialogue with Israel is more dangerous and therefore more muted as people like Majid say they are afraid of recrimination by their government.
“War is the last thing I wanted to hear,” she replied.