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#1 New Efforts to Bring Iran’s ‘Wealthy Jewish Hostages’ to Israel
12-15-2010, 02:08 AM
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Nearly 76,000 Iranian Jews moved to Israel since 1948 and Immigration Ministry officials and the Knesset committee for immigration are trying to find ways to encourage the remaining 25,000 to move to the Jewish State. One major obstacle is the comfortable position of many Iranian Jews, despite their children starting school every day with the chant “Death to Israel, Death to America.”
“I ask Jews in Iran why they stay there, and they tell me they have everything they need,” Avraham Abir, a leader in the Israeli-Iranian Jewish community, told the Knesset committee. “In my opinion, the Jews there will end up like those in the Hitler era in Europe.”
He added that another obstacle is that many who want to leave cannot do so without leaving their children behind, due to the government’s refusal to grant passports to those who have not yet completed army service.
Jews in Iran are free to practice Judaism, and hundreds of Jews gathered in synagogues to light Chanukah candles during the eight-day holiday.
“It is safe for us in Iran, for Jews, but we always have to be careful. We know that we should stay with our community,” a young woman who called herself Rachel told the Christian Science Monitor recently. “We should not become close to Muslims. If we do, it will only be trouble.”
In 2000, 10 Iranian Jews, including a minor, were sentenced to prison for allegedly spying for the United States and Israel. Jews in Iran also face the ongoing ranting of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who calls the Holocaust a “myth.”
Despite glowing reports of wealthy Jews in Iran, their economic condition has worsened under the regime of Ahmadinejad, according to several sources in the country. Rachel told the Monitor in a whisper, “You know, I wish I could go to Israel. It is my dream to go there one day and see it.”
In Turkey, the economic situation for Jews has worsened the past two years, Turkish-Israeli community leader Momo Oz Sinai told the Knesset committee. “Every time [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan or his ministers attack Israel, Jews see themselves as threatened. Erdogan’s actions create an atmosphere of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
He also reported that every Friday, the Muslim Sabbath, anti-Zionist rallies in Istanbul feature placards stating, “Jew: G-d tells you not to murder.” He also said that a weekly ritual is to burn Israel flags in mosques and in the center of the city.
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