Humour-challenged US officials take Iranian utterances at face value, causing them to ratchet up the pressure. Their Israeli counterparts”who live in the region, after all, and a considerable number hail from Iran’s ancient Jewish community”know enough to take Iranian rhetoric with a pinch of salt.
Iranian oral culture is rich with hyperbolic mythological tales. In the Iranian street, huge emphasis is attached to exaggerating accounts of events for rhetorical effect. The lanes of Tehran’s bazaar and its upmarket salons alike resound to the utterance, “Baba, velesh kun, dareh khalibandi mikone!” (“Mate, forget about him, he’s pulling your leg!”).