Distortion for exoneration



Book Review:
My Daughter Farah
By: Farideh Diba
Persian Translation by: Elaheh Reiiss Firouz

The book of the memories of the mother of Farah Diba, the wife of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi entitle My Daughter Farah tries very paradoxically and simplistically to exonerate Farah and her husband Mohammad Reza Shah from the guilt and faults, and attributes to others the reasons behind the corruption of Pahlavi regime and the grounds for its collapse. Although such measures are very normal in historiography and memory telling turns into a way for self-righteousness and destroying others, the book has been written so carelessly and incautiously that plain contradictions are seen in every chapter of the book. The following article is an explanation about this issue.
In every period, historiography has its own special writing and narration. From the viewpoint of history's philosophy, various factors affect in writing and registering the events and incidents among which we can refer to the historian's personal characteristics and psychological state. Historiography after the victory of Islamic Revolution is no exception. Explanation and division of various currents of historiography and the historians of this period is not the aim of the article. Here, one case called My Daughter Farah has been reviewed while one type of such currents has been referred to briefly.
My Daughter Farah is the memories of Farideh Diba, the mother of Farah Pahlavi. The book has been translated by Elaheh Reiiss Firouz and edited by Ahmad Pirani and published by Behafarin Press. It has been reprinted several times but here it has been attributed to its third edition.
It is an undeniable fact that "victory" always has many claimants and "defeat" is orphan and even has no guardian. The conquerors and winners battle over seizing the bounties and blessings of victory, and the losers kill each other for escaping from the miseries of the defeat, and everyone is seeking how to escape from this infamy and accuses others. When the two groups want to reach their message to others and posterity, naturally they turn to historiography. Thus, among various types of historiography, two other types will be formed which may be called "historiography of conquerors" and "historiography of losers". However, each of these two has its own characters which cannot be discussed here.
Therefore, it is very natural that a group of historians after the victory of Islamic Revolution are those who were defeated by the revolution, the rulers of former regime who present their viewpoints in the various written forms including the method of writing their memories. As mentioned before, the main feature of such people is to try to exonerate themselves and blame others for the defeat. Thus, paying attention to the psychological state of the writers and their political motive is very necessary in order to understand the nature and rate of scientific validity of such writings. But this should not cause us to ignore paying attention to the motives and content of the writings seriously and precisely, because such books with any motive that have been written contain important parts of historical events and facts some of which exclusively belong to the writer and is not possible to have access to it but through himself or herself. In other words, the writer of such text who was responsible for handling the country some day is considered a firsthand source for expressing some events, and some of his or her claims which are confirmed by other evidences will have the authenticity. When such people turn to pen dispute in order to remove accusations from themselves or accuse another person, the hidden angles of many events, relations, ties, and the nature of many issues, currents and persons would become clear from inside their disputes and arguments.
The book My Daughter Farah is one of such writings which has been noticed and judged differently because of the status of its writer in Pahlavi family and the firsthand information she had from inside the court. Some have questioned the authenticity of the book and think other person or persons have written the book. On the other hand, some believe that the book is just the collection of Farideh Diba's words. Others think that the main theme of the book is Diba's words but the editor or his or her probable partners have resorted to remove the shortages while compiling the subjects of Mrs. Diba in a way that the type of expressing the subjects seems beyond the writing ability of Mrs. Diba. This may be closer to reality but the main point is that the contents of the book's discussions and claims have been confirmed by Mrs. Diba. Her handwriting on confirming the text and the book's content addressing the translator has been printed in the next editions.
The book has been set in eight chapters. The titles of its chapters are: Acquaintance with Shah, the Life of the Kings, In Circle of Friends, Foreign Trips, Individuals and Figures, Feasts and Parties, Life after Exit from Iran, and Shah's Extradition to Iran. 
In view of what was mentioned at the beginning, the motive and main aim of the book is to deny the contribution of Farah and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the collapse of Pahlavi Dynasty and highlighting this role and blaming other members of Pahlavi family and those who had been involved in handling the country. But the writer for achieving this goal has illustrated the face of many officials of Pahlavi regime inevitably and intentionally or unintentionally, and by explaining about what happened in the special circles of the court, has confessed to Pahlavi's dictatorship, weakness of management, incompetence, political, economic and cultural corruption, attachment to foreigners especially the United States of America, and so forth. Thus, the book's reader can find out many facts from the language of a courtier. But what is important for the reader to remain safe from making a mistake is firstly to pay attention to the main aim of the book already referred to and second to notice the book's shortages and mistakes which already referred to some of them briefly.
Although the editor has played a role in promoting the subjects of Mrs. Diba and their fluency, it seems that her involvement in some cases has prevented from revealing the real image of Mrs. Diba and her personal level. For instance, some important historical, national and international issues raised in the book seem beyond the understanding and knowledge rate of Mrs. Diba. Moreover, the editor has said, "the exaggerating phrases and ceremonial titles like His or Her Majesty and like these have been omitted… some insulting phrases and words have also been deleted… and if such words have come in some sentences exactly, it is because that the dialogue atmosphere of Mrs. Diba is somehow maintained." (Diba page 8). It is obvious that the editor has edited the book according to her taste but it is not clear to what extent this measure has been immune from mistake. It seems that if the editor was not involved, and faced the reader with the exact phrases, more facts of the book were discovered, because mentioning the titles and even the phrases and insults and so forth can help clarify the level of the court's relations with each other, their hidden status and character and behind-the-scene as well as their dialogue and behavioral culture. Moreover, maintaining the real dialogue atmosphere of the court and transferring their culture to history can help the Iranian history researcher understand many political events.
The titles of the book's chapters are clear evidence of their contents and no need to explain about them. However, it is worth noting about the first chapter "Acquaintance with Shah" that the entire chapter has been provided for justifying the marriage of Farah with Mohammad Reza and rejecting Hossein Fardoust's narration and other ones in this regard. In other chapters, there are some cases which seem contradictory and violate both main and motivation of the book which is rule out the contribution of Farah and Mohammad Reza in the collapse of Pahlavi Dynasty.
Elsewhere, the author of the book has said, "I found out from what I talked with Mohammad Reza during the long years that he admired Mosaddeq in heart and was aware of the late Mosaddeq's interest in Iran and the nation. Even he said several times with regret that if Mosaddeq kept his limits, we could have worked with each other many years."(page 301). But she has written in a few pages later, "[Mohammad Reza] hated Mosadeqq so much that no one dared to call his name before him. Even a member of the cabinet whose name was Mosaddeqi would never dare to participate in the greeting ceremony of the court."(page 358)
Elsewhere, the book says, "Amir Hossein Rabiee while his German wife was present and witnessed her husband's weeping, asked Mohammad Reza Shah helplessly not to leave the country… Mohammad Reza started crying by seeing the scene." (page 388) But in a few pages later, about the reaction of Mohammad Reza against Rabiee's remarks, the writer says, "Mohammad Reza did not pay attention to these remarks and even did not respond to them". (page 392). In another part of the book, the writer has introduced Mrs. Alee Antoniadis as a Greek-American and about her, she writes," Alee was the same age as mine, Farah loved her too and has told others that Alee was both among my friends and Farah's close friends. This friendship is still continuing after our exit from Iran, Alee visits us regularly. We also had a trip together to Alaska in June 1984." (pages: 132-133). However, in another part of her words, she has introduced Alee Antoniadis as a Greek-Iranian and says, "[Hoveyda] had tried several times to penetrate in Farah's Special Office by sending his agents one of whom was a Greek-Iranian named Alee Antoniadis"  (page 307)
In most pages of her book, Mrs. Diba has tried to represent herself as innocent from behavior incompatible with chastity in the parties and feasts of Pahlavi family, and about her lack of participation in some of the parties, she says, "This was due to the age situation and the family training and the shyness that I had grown with them and deep-rooted in my body and soul". (page 124) And in another part, about the same issue, she writes, "Maybe it was because of this that others assessed me as a fanatic and medieval woman" (page 125). But in another part, about one of her trips to Shiraz, when facing with a door-to-door dancing brass band, she says," We along with the brass band went to the airport's grass premise, sat on the grass like ordinary people and they sang several local songs for us. Then we started to dance while the midnight revelers had been watching us." (page 98)
In another part of her memories, Diba has introduced Fardoust as an evil person and has called his remarks as wrong in order to exonerate Farah and distort Fardoust's narration about how he became familiar with Shah (page 61), but in another part, she has introduce him as Shah's close friend and a faithful religious and honest man (page 235). Also when she wants to condemn Hoveyda and blame him for many things, cites Fardoust's remarks and called them correct, and writes, "General Hossein Fardoust in his memories published in two thick-set volumes has written many cases about Hoveyda which are documented". (page 310)
Another example of the existing contradictions in the book is about General Abbas Qarabaqi, the Pahlavi regime's last Joint Chief of Staff. In this regard, Mrs. Diba says, "After Shah's departure from Iran, he got closer to the revolutionaries and paralyzed the army."(page 294) And because of this, elsewhere in her book, she has judged about him this way, "Abbas Qarabaqi was more traitor than everyone else who issued the army's neutrality declaration and yielded it. (page 303). Also in this regard, she says, "Abbas Qarabaqi, the last chief of Pahlavi regime's Joint Chiefs of Staff caused the rioters to double their efforts and the regime was collapsed by issuing the neutrality declaration and returning the troops to their garrisons." (page 336) and finally she has said, "All know that General Qarabaqi issued the neutrality declaration which caused the country's collapse."(page 385) However, in another part of the same memories, Mrs. Diba has written surprisingly, "I saw recently that some writers and memory writers have introduced Qarabaqi as traitor and said that the issuance of the neutrality declaration by General Qarabai – the then Joint Chief of Staff – caused the army's morale to be weakened and the regime was collapsed. In my view, the writers of such issues do not have enough understanding and sense. Long before General Qarabaqi issued the declaration, the body of army had already joined the people and we did not know that the low-ranking military servicemen while patrolling in the streets during the days as the enforcers of the curfew would join the demonstrators with clothes after the end of their mission!!
 Even, many servicemen had delivered their weapons to the revolutionaries and had escaped! So you see that Abbas Qarabaqi issued the declaration to return the troops to their garrisons and to prevent them from joining popular gatherings, and to find a respectably loophole for the army's withdrawal from this predicament. (page 254)
Now the question is how such contradictory judgments about a person can be adjusted? Certainly it is a question that not only the readers of the book but also its writer would find no answer for it.
As mentioned at the beginning, the main aim and motivation of the writers of such books is to exonerate some and accusing and blaming a number of other Pahlavi regime's authorities. The book is seeking to exonerate Farah and then Mohammed Reza Shah and blame others in the failure and collapse of Pahlavi regime. Thus, the book has tried to blame various factors for the collapse of Pahlavi Dynasty and acquit the considered persons, Farah and Mohammad Reza. Therefore, it has put the blame on Shah's family, relatives and close friends. (For instance pages 198 and 226). In many cases, the blame has been put on Shah's Prime Minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda (for instance pages 291, 296 and 306). In other cases, the book has tried to show Shah as an independent figure and against the US and British interests and oil companies, and consider the regime's collapse as their plot (for instance pages 393, 394, 398 and 360)
Despite the above mentioned efforts, the book does not seem to have any success in its aim (exonerating Farah and Shah), because first the failure of Pahlavi regime, the collapse of Monarchial System and victory of Islamic Revolution had been based on various social, cultural and political factors and at least rooted in the recent two-hundred years of developments. The Pahlavi Dynasty especially the second Pahlavi faced with legitimacy crisis since August 19th 1953 coup. Despotism and the intensification of dependence on foreigners, and anti-religious policies doubled the crisis since 1960s and the life of the regime came to an end with the leadership and order of a source of emulation, Imam Khomeini (May his soul rest in peace). Secondly, the book's efforts for exonerating Farah and Diba have been vain because it has no scientific validity. How is it possible that a regime was collapsed through a popular process not a coup and all of its foreign and domestic factors have been held accountable for its failure, but its most important and effective authorities that is Shah and his wife have been cleared of this responsibility? Furthermore, the book has been involved in the same contradictions to many cases of which were referred. For instance, on one hand, Mrs. Diba has claimed that Farah possessed a big administrative apparatus in the country (page 128) and her wealth was no less than Mohammad Reza (page 502) and her power was so much that once took Hoveyda's ear and said "Be careful Mr. Hoveyda! I am Iran's powerful queen." (page 307) But on the other hand, despite the above mentioned acknowledgments, she has claimed that Farah was just involved in cultural affairs and "did not deal with other affairs of the country at all". (page 256, 257)
Such contradictions are also seen about Shah. For example, in justifying Shah's immoral matters, she has claimed in one part that "Shah was a faithful Muslim" (page 312) and "had no moral diversion" (page 313), and at the same time, in another part, she says, "I say with confidence that Mohammad Reza was among those naughty men who were not satisfied with their formal wife." (page 105) We also see such contradictions about Shah's political performance. For instance, on one hand, she has claimed that "Mohammad Reza was an irresponsible man as the Shah of the constitutional country according to the Constitution" (page 224). But she in numerous cases has spoken about Shah's despotism and sick wisdom. For instance, the book in another part says, "His biggest weakness was that he considered himself as general intellect and did not let anybody to help him intellectually." (page 225). She has also acknowledged: "If someone wanted to challenge him, he or she would be dismissed immediately… Mohammad Reza liked that anything done in the country was put into his account. He liked that everybody was his servant… my daughter was saying that in a meeting in the presence of Shah, one of the ministers said: To me, we'd better to do such and such work. Mohammad Reza fired him immediately… he should have said that if His Majesty would accept this." (page 301), and finally she has confessed to Shah's abnormal behavior and spirit in despotism and his disease in this regard especially after the 2500-Year Feasts and writes, "The gathering of world high-ranking officials in Shiraz caused melancholic thoughts in Mohammad Reza to be intensified. Once I told my daughter that your husband is sick. Farah who had not understood what I meant said, yes, I know…while I was worried about Mohammad Reza's disease… during the last years of his monarchy, especially after 1970 and after the 2500-Year Feasts, Mohammad Reza no longer saw himself as an earth man and like others." (page 331)
The above cases were just mentioned for instance. How such cases can be oriented with the claim that Mohammad Reza was irresponsible? Can Farah and Shah be exonerated from the chaos in the country during Pahlavi regime?
Finally, as was mentioned at the beginning, despite the shortages and contradictions, the book is full of explanatory confessions about the weakness of management, political-economic-cultural corruption and the dependence of the Pahlavi regime against foreign powers.
Sources:
1- Farideh Diba, My Daughter Farah, translated by Elaheh Reiiss Firouz, Tehran, Behafarin Press, 2002
2- Hossein Fardous, The Rise and Fall of Pahlavi Monarchy, Tehran, Ettela'at, 1998.

Seyyed Mustafa Naqavi


Zamaneh Magazine, No.64
 
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