Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Iranian Jews free to travel to Israel

I have posted in the past about Iran's Jews or the Persian paradox as I called it. How can it be that the Muslim country that is apparently the most radical and fundamentalist, committed to the destruction of Israel, biggest supporter of international terrorism is also the only country in the region that has not expelled its Jewish population since the foundation of the Israeli state and has in fact enshrined the right of Jews in its constitution. It gets even stranger. I have recently learned that Iran's 25,000 Jews are free to travel to Israel, via a third country, visit relatives and return to Iran.

I know from my travels to the region that once you have set foot in Israel it can be very awkward to gain entry into many Arab and Muslim countries with Syria Lebanon and Iran being the most difficult. Naturally Israeli citizens cannot enter any of of these countries with the exception of Egypt and Jordan which Israel has made peace with. So the idea of Iranian Jews leaving Iran, traveling to Israel (usually via Turkey) to visit relatives for a couple of weeks and then returning to Iran, all with the permission of the Iranian authorities is truly GUBU.

Relations today between Iran and Israel could not be lower. A month ago the Israeli air force conducted a test in the Eastern Mediterranean which many analysts claimed was a dress rehearsal for an air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Last week in what was widely regarded as a response Tehran conducted long range missile tests capable of hitting Israel. And in the middle of all this tension you have Iranian Jews travelling to and from Israel. Can you imagine the pressure these people must be under. If you think Irish people travelling to England in the 80's had it bad at the points of entry what must it be like for these poor souls. No doubt on arrival in Israel they are approached by Israeli intelligence services and asked if they would spy for Israel on return. No doubt when requesting permission from Iranian authorities to travel to Israel they are asked if they would be willing to spy for Iran on the Jewish state. What can I say, I'm glad I'm not an Iranian Jew right now.

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