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"The Persian Conquest"
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June 20, 2009, 01:31 PM
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With Iran much in the news, it`s interesting to take a look at the most influential Iranian community in the U.S.:
The Persian Conquest Kevin West W
While the Persian Jews of Beverly Hills certainly make (and spend) lots of money, it`s not clear if the Oriental Jews of Beverly Hills will follow their Ashkenazi Jewish predecessors into more intellectual pursuits.

I don`t know whether Beverly Hills High School`s SAT scores were actually the highest among public schools in Los Angeles County back before the Persians arrived, but, having spent a lot of time competing in debate with Beverly Hills students (my debate coach at Notre Dame H.S. in Sherman Oaks in the San Fernando Valley was married to the BHHS debate coach), I certainly would have guessed that was true.

Yet, in 2004-2005, Beverly Hills High School was only 9th among Los Angeles County public schools in percent of students scoring at least 1000 on the Math+Verbal parts of the SAT. The top two schools only allowed in students by examination, but BHHS was still merely seventh among neighborhood schools at 62 percent above 1000 (which is easier since "recentering" in 1995) versus 89 percent at San Marino and 80 percent at La Canada, two sedate old money / new Asian satellites of Pasadena. Even Arcadia, a quite modest-looking suburb in the flatlands of the San Gabriel Valley (where my cousins grew up) d0es better than Beverly Hills these days.

The influx since then of ultra-ambitious affluent Chinese and Koreans into the San Gabriel Valley has propelled its schools up the list, but I wonder whether the Persian influx into Beverly Hills has had a negative effect on BHHS`s standing?

I do recall when the Iranians in LA first made themselves prominent: in 1978-1981`s huge demonstrations in front of the Federal Building in Westwood. With LAPD mounted cops keeping the Iranians separated from each other, on one street corner would be a big mob denouncing the Shah, on another corner would be a big mob denouncing the Ayatollah, and occasionally on a third corner would be a small mob with the good taste to denounce both of them.

My mother noticed the Iranian influx before I did, about 1974-75, when they started making themselves conspicuous at LA department stores. When I got my MBA at UCLA in 1980-82, I noticed lots of Iranians working at gas stations and at valet parking, but usually at the most expensive addresses. They seemed to feel that the way to get money was to be around money.

In general, I think Persians were able to take over Beverly Hills because they can put more adults in one house than Americans are willing to do. American adults generally can`t tolerate living with adults they aren`t married to, but Middle Easterners can have four or five paychecks living in one house. Thus, an Askhenazi extended family might see the grandparents in Beverly Hills, the children in Calabasas, and the grandchildren in Camarillo, while a Persian Jewish family would put them all in the Beverly Hills house. I`m not sure if Middle Easterners live more harmoniously with their relatives than Americans do, or if they just enjoy domestic stress more than we do.