HA-GE’ULLAH, Judeo-Persian weekly newspaper published in Tehran between 1920 and 1923. Ha-Ge’ullah is a Hebrew term meaning redemption and deliverance, and it denotes a well-known concept in Judaism which bears mostly religious connotations regarding the redemption of the Jewish people. It is the opposite of the concept of Gālut, which means exile, dispersions and sufferings met by the Jews in countries other than the Land of Israel — this is why the name Ha-Ge’ullah was chosen for this Judeo-Persian weekly newspaper.
As far as we know, Ha-Ge’ullah was the second Judeo-Persian newspaper to be published, after Shalom (meaning “peace” in Hebrew). The latter was published at the Maṭbaʿa-ye Kalimiān in Tehran in 1915 (probably for only one year) by the two brothers, Mordechai ben Avraham (1888-1964) and Asher ben Avraham (1890-1963). Ha-Ge’ullah appeared usually in a four (30 cm x 42 cm) page format, and it was written in the Persian language using Hebrew characters.
Ha-Ge’ullah, an official organ of the Zionist Movement in Iran, published its first issue on 9 Ṭevet 5681/31 December 1920 under the editorship of ʿAziz-Allāh Yonah Naʿim (1889-1946), and the last one in June 1923. From the beginning of 1922 onwards, Naʿim was named as the founder and the registered license-holder of the newspaper, and Soleymān Nāqi and Ḥabib-Allāh Yodʿim as the administrator and editor respectively. The Zionist Movement in Iran was itself founded in 1918, as a branch of the World Zionist Organization. In the course of time, especially from 1922 onwards, it became weakened as a result of internal disputes within the Iranian Jewish community, and it eventually disappeared in 1926, the second year of the reign of Reżā Shah, who was opposed to any organization linked with foreign elements.
The main contents of the first issues were mainly concerned with socio-religious issues and the promotion of Zionist ideas as Jewish nationalism (see marām wa maslak-e mā, “Our Aim and Path,” in the first issue). It encouraged the study of the Hebrew language and emigration to Israel, which it conceived as the “national home for the Jewish people,” as had been declared by the British Foreign Minister, Arthur James Balfour, in November 1917. Later on, almost all of the columns of Ha-Ge’ullah were filled with articles in support of Dr. Loqmān Nehorāy (1882-1952) against his opponent Shmu’el Yeḥezqel Ḥaim (1891-1931), both of whom were running as Jewish candidates for the fifth Majles (1923-1926). The bitter dispute between the two candidates divided almost the entire Jewish population of Iran (see especially issues published on 4 February 1921 and 17 March 1922). Following the victory of Shmu’el Yeḥezqel Ḥaim in June 1923, Ha-Ge’ullah was closed down forever and some of the leaders of the Zionist Movement, among them Naʿim, left Tehran for Israel and Europe.
Ḥabib Levy, History of the Jews of Iran, Tehran, 1960, III, pp. 899-912 (in Persian).
Amnon Netzer, “Zionism in Iran,” in Moshe Davis, ed., Zionism in Transition, New York, 1980, pp. 225-32.
Amnon Netzer, “Zionist Activity in Iran in the Years 1920-26 ...,” Miqqedem Umiyyam, Studies in the Jewry of Islamic Countries, Haifa, 1986, II, pp. 237-50 (in Hebrew).
A detailed description and numerous analyses of the contents of Ha-Ge’ullah appear in 92 articles published by the present author in the Jewish Iranian monthly magazine Shofar, New York, June 1989-May 1997 (in Persian).
Originally Published: July 20, 2002
Last Updated: July 20, 2002