Israelis Of Iranian Origin Caught Within Anger And Nostalgia

Many think an Israeli response to Iran’s attack will come only after the religious holiday.

Jerusalem:

Israelis of Iranian heritage are torn between nostalgia for their country of origin and anger at its leaders following Tehran’s unprecedented attack on Israel last weekend. Many believe this is not the moment for Israel to retaliate.

“I hope we won’t have to attack Iran now, this is not the time. Let them worry a bit,” said Zion Hasid, president of the Central Organization of Iranian Immigrants, which says it represents 300,000 Iranian Jews.

In Jerusalem on Wednesday, he brought together his friends and members of the organisation’s administrative council for a meal ahead of Jewish Passover next week.

Many observers now think an Israeli response to Iran’s attack will come only after the religious holiday.

Hasid, a businessman with fond memories of Iran, said he has “felt bad” since Tehran launched more than 300 missiles and drones at Israel on April 13.

The attack won Israel wide-ranging support from its Western allies as its ongoing assault in the Gaza Strip was meeting with rising disapproval, including from stalwart ally the United States.

Like others in Israel, Hasid worries a heavy-handed response could spark a violent backlash.

“I hope Israel will act wisely and with a cool head. That way, with God’s help, we will be able to win,” he said.

Iran — a key backer of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and the Palestinian militant group Hamas — launched the attack in retaliation for an April 1 strike on its consulate in Damascus that was widely blamed on Israel.

Nearly all the Iranian missiles and drones were intercepted by Israel with help from the United States and other allies. Israel has vowed to respond, despite calls to prevent escalation in the Middle East.

‘Blessed’

Iran’s Jewish community was for a long time the largest in the Muslim world. Many of the country’s Jews have emigrated in search of a better life elsewhere.

After the 1979 Islamic revolution and the fall of the shah, others followed, although Jews were protected under the constitution. Many settled in the United States or Israel.

Hasid has been living in Israel since 1964. His business cards bear the Israeli and Iranian flags — the latter with the image of a lion in the centre, as before the revolution.

“If the shah was in power, this wouldn’t have happened. The current regime wants to show the world it runs the Middle East,” he said.

After its creation in 1948, Israel had close ties with Iran. But the 1979 revolution dramatically ended the friendship and they have moved from firm allies to sworn enemies.

Members of the Central Organization of Iranian Immigrants, who sometimes converse in Farsi, all speak with the same affection for their country of birth and the “blessed” times of the shah, when Iran-Israel relations were at their peak.

Hostages

Yehezkiel Yegana, 75, whose cousin was killed by Hamas fighters on October 7, said he often thinks of the Israeli captives the militants took to Gaza.

Israel estimates 129 of the 250 hostages remain in Gaza, including 34 the military says are dead.

But Yegana has not forgotten what he called the “Jewish hostages in Iran” either.

Iran still has a Jewish community of between 8,000 and 10,000, who have a reserved seat in the Iranian parliament but complain of mistrust from the authorities in the face of the hostility between the two governments.

“The entire Iranian people has been taken hostage by an extremist group and will free itself from it one day,” he said.

Yegana said the question of an extended war between the two countries was “complex”.

“If we attack, that could provoke a conflict on several fronts,” he said. “If we don’t attack, we will be seen as weak.”

But Yegana believes the days of the Islamic republic are numbered.

“We’ve never been so close to the moment when we’ll be able to return to our country, to visit the cities and forests of our childhood,” he said.

 

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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