Jewish Iranians in Israel are amongst the growing numbers who see a war against the Iranian regime as an unnecessary war against their fellow countrymen.
PARVIZ BARKHORDAR says he loves both Israel and Iran. For many, this dual affinity might seem contradictory, but according to Barkhordar, it makes total sense.
“We were born in Iran, but we always were Jewish. We were Persian Jews in Iran,” Barkhordar explains. “We lived and we were raised in Iran. We love Iran, because Iran was good to us. Most of the Jews lived over there very, very comfortably and very, very safely.”
Born in Tehran, Barkhordar left Iran for Israel at age 16, and got a degree in electrical engineering from Technion University in Haifa. After then returning to Iran for one year, he immigrated to the United States. In 1995, he moved to Israel permanently.
Today, Barkhordar hosts a weekly political radio programme on Radio Radisin, a private Farsi-language radio station that was established four years ago near Tel Aviv. Broadcasting online and on satellite radio, the station often receives calls from listeners in Iran.
“They complain about the current situation in Iran: how bad it is, how expensive the things are, how unstable everything is. They say that when they wake up, they don’t know what the price of the bread will be because it can change overnight.”
“This radio station is trying to make a bridge between the two nations. We are not talking about the regime because we know that the regime is not the nation in Iran. We love our brothers and sisters in Iran. We are with them.”
For months now, the Israeli news cycle has been dominated by talk about an “Iranian threat” and whether or not Israel would strike Iranian nuclear facilities. Many analysts have predicted that Israel would attack Iran before the American presidential elections in November, when public condemnation would be politically costly for US leaders.
Last week, Israel submitted a letter to the United Nations Security Council arguing that “complacency in the face of Iranian hate speech and incitement (against Israel) is dangerous” and that action must be taken. In turn, Iran’s deputy envoy to the UN stated that Israeli threats to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities violate the UN charter.
In Israel, the response to a potential Israel-Iran war has been mixed. According to a July opinion poll conducted by Tel Aviv University, known as the Peace Index, 61 percent of Jewish-Israelis don’t think that Israel should attack Iran without help from the US.
The survey also found that 60 percent of respondents believed that Israel should accept that it can’t prevent Iran’s nuclear programme, and should instead change its policies to reflect that it may soon no longer be the only nuclear power in the Middle East.
While the Israeli government has never officially acknowledged that it possesses nuclear weapons, and maintains a policy of “nuclear ambiguity”, Israel has long been suspected of being the region’s only nuclear power.
Israel has also refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
“The (Israeli) government is trying to terrorise its own people and to make them believe that there are no options. But we know that there are options and this war is the worst scenario that we can have,” said Israeli activist Guy Butavia, during a small demonstration against an Israeli-Iran war held in front of Netanyahu’s home in Jerusalem.’
“The crucial thing is to pressure from inside and outside. From inside, I don’t think it’s going to make the difference. But from outside, I think it’s very crucial: from the US and from the Europeans. Not only this war, but all the policies that this government is doing,” Butavia explained.
Earlier this month, the Israeli army’s home front command began distributing gas masks to Israeli citizens free of charge. The first such distribution took place in Israel in 1990, on the eve of the first Gulf war in Iraq.
For Parviz Barkhordar, while he hoped the people of Iran wouldn’t be hurt by an Israeli military offensive, he said he had faith in Israeli political and military leaders to make the right decision.
“As soon as Iran will have the atomic bomb, they will threaten not just Israel, but any other free country in the world and they will try to dictate their rules and regulations,” he said. “We don’t have to attack the innocent people, of course. We never want to do anything like that. We won’t act that way.”
LEHTIKUVA / AFP PHOTO / AMIR KHOLOUSI