May 18, 2006
Iranian Jews in Israel worry for former homeland
TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Tehran-born Israeli Meir Javedanfar fondly recalls sitting around a television set with his Muslim friends back in Iran drinking copious cups of sweet tea while proudly watching the national soccer team play.
With a growing crisis between the West and Iran over its nuclear program, Javedanfar is among many Iranian Jews living in Israel who fear a possible attack on their former homeland.
"I am strongly against any war with Iran as I do not want to see Iranian people hurt," said Javedanfar, a 32-year-old Iranian analyst, staring at the lapping waves on the beachfront of Tel Aviv, an Israeli city where many Iranian Jews live.
The history of Iran's Jewish community, once over 100,000 strong, stretches back over 2,500 years to the ancient Persian empire. They are sometimes called "Esther's Children" after a Jewish queen of Persia.
Jews faced intermittent persecution in Iran for centuries but flourished with the ascent of the pro-western Pahlavi dynasty in the 1920s.
Since Israel's creation in 1948, more than 40,000 Iranian Jews have moved to the Jewish state, with the last big wave arriving after the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.
Tel Aviv shop owner Siyamak Shirazi, 37, who was born in Tehran and moved to Israel in 1979, said he hoped ordinary Iranians would not be caught up in any military action.
"We are Israelis but we are still Iranians. I hope there are no air strikes," he said. "I would prefer the ruling leadership being removed by U.S. or Israeli special forces. Perhaps then the people there will be able to breathe again." >>>
Sent by Darius Kadivar
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