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Rouhani Gives Money To Tehran Jewish Hospital

$400,000 unexpectedly delivered to the Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center

Stephanie Butnick
February 07, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani(BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani(BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

In a surprising development out of Iran, President Hassan Rouhani has reportedly given $400,000 to Tehran’s only Jewish hospital, the New York Times reports. The donation was dropped off at the Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center by Rouhani’s brother, Hossein Fereydoon, who came with a message: “Our government intends to unite all ethnic groups and religions, so we decided to assist you.”

The hospital was overjoyed, with a nurse telling the Times, “This is a good sign.”

It’s definitely something. I don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the unexpected donation, which appears to have been given with little warning or context, raises a few questions. Is this part of Rouhani’s skillful charm offensive—a generous gesture of goodwill to a religious minority could potentially go a long way in softening the country’s image in the eyes of the West—or a genuine attempt at cultural change within the country?

The whole thing feels a bit too random, and haphazard, to be part of a wider initiative, though at the very least the donation means the hospital and the communities it serves will benefit tremendously.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.

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