Israel is a Trip (1)

My primary interest in this trip will be to find out how our Iranian Jews have fared in Israel culturally


Israel is a Trip (1)
by Ari Siletz

Part 1 - Part 2

Consul General Jacob Dayan is the senior representative of the State of Israel in Southwestern United States. He runs a busy consulate and I certainly hadn't expected to meet the top man when I contacted his office with questions about who was paying for my journalism trip to Israel. Yet, the charismatic diplomat whose youthfulness contrasts pleasantly with the responsibility of his office, graciously offered his time to answer some questions. Along the way, I also asked if Israel had anything to do with the recent killing of two Iranian nuclear scientists.    

I won't keep you in suspense, Mr. Dayan referred to Hillary Clinton's repeated cautions: "The United States is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons."  He also cited the motto, "a nuclear Iran is not an option."  The current Iranian regime armed with nukes would affect the US leadership role, straining important agreements with the Arab nations. The shift in the balance of military power right on top of the world's source of energy is an issue of utmost global seriousness. "It is not an Israeli issue; it's an American issue, it's a world issue!" Dayan insisted. The diplomat's firm responses directed me to re-frame the assassination question in my mind: did a collective international concern converge to a consensus to take action?  Perhaps Israel played a part, I thought, but it is unlikely that she was acting in isolation from the US and other nations who wish to slow Iran's nuclear progress. This strong impression is as close to an answer as you can get from a diplomat on such subjects. And Mr. Dayan did not mince words when I used the phrase, "the perception of a nuclear weapons program."  He was adamant that Iran's intention to acquire nuclear weapons is not a mere perception but a matter of reality. He cited suspicious activities by the IRI, which I took not so much as airtight proof but as an emphasis that in the context of the Islamic Republic's intensely hostile rhetoric, Israelis can't indulge the luxury of a doubt. Israel has made up its mind that Iran is going for nukes, and she is proceeding accordingly.  Seriously!  

Yet, despite being convinced that the IRI is the greatest threat to the world right now, Mr. Dayan says that Israel has no intrinsic conflict with the Iranian people. After all, only three decades ago the countries were friends going back 25 centuries. He is also upbeat about Iran because he thinks that of all the Islamic countries in the region Iran has the highest potential for a democracy. He attributes this to Iran having a real middle class, without which a democracy cannot grow. Sadly, Mr. Dayan observes, the IRI is eroding Iran's middle class, and therefore the nation's chances for a democracy.   

I asked the Consul General if Israelis watched Iran's last elections with interest, and whether they were hoping Ahmadinejad would lose. He didn't take sides with any candidate, but what impressed him most during the Iran election was seeing the desire for freedom in the Iranian people--a people, however, that in Mr. Dayan's opinion do not have an accurate picture of Israel.   

Briefly I took the Consul General literally and tried to imagine an accurate picture of Israel.  But the boundaries kept shifting and settlements cropped up here and there frustrating my attempt to form a stable image of the country. Mr. Dayan thinks most land problems will be resolved once the Palestinians stop questioning the concept of Israel as a Jewish democratic state on its own piece of land separate from a Palestinian state. Israel is willing to make what Mr. Dayan views as serious compromises on the post 1967 land map to accommodate this two-state solution--even agreeing to settlement land swaps for Palestinian geographic contiguity. But the main deal buster continues to be the right of return issue: Palestinians who became refugees after the 1948 -1949 Arab-Israeli war want to go back to their ancestral homes inside Israel. Any Palestinians still alive from the original refugee crowd would be at least 60 odd years old and therefore not of much concern; the catch is that several million descendants are claiming the same right of return-- as in no more Jewish democratic state on its own piece of land separate from a Palestinian state.   

For me, the Israel-Palestine dilemma is a moral balancing act between the right of Jews to live in their own land free of persecution by a non-Jewish potential majority, and the right of Palestinians to continue living on the property of their ancestors. For others, history should decide the matter--some Israelis citing various independent Jewish kingdoms and states that have appeared on and off throughout history. With Chanukah just behind us, Mr. Dayan mentioned Israel's 2nd century BCE Hasmonean dynasty that ruled for a hundred years or so after the Jewish rebellion that the Chanukah celebration marks to this day.  For others I have spoken to in the past, the issue goes beyond the ethical and historical. To them it is a matter of worshipping God, and each side would fanatically push the fight to Armageddon. This is the primary reason nuclear weapons and the Middle East don't mix. There was not enough time to get into a discussion about a nuke free Middle East with Mr. Dayan, but there will be plenty of time to discuss the matter with native Israelis during my trip to that country. Mr. Dayan says I should feel free to approach anyone on the street or in the shops and cafeterias to talk about any issue whatsoever. Though he cautions that if there are three Jews, I may find four opinions. His way of saying his country is a democracy where Israelis don't fear expressing their views.       

Which brings us back to why journalists, artists, politicians, business people, community activists, etc. from all over the world get invited to go to Israel. Mr. Dayan says many guests are transformed by the experience of this journey. I'll stay open to that; one revealing experience I have had already is the story of how the trip came about. Iranian-American Jewish businessmen, George Haroonian and Bijan Khalili had an idea that some of their non-Jewish compatriots should learn more about Israel.  Mr. Haroonian's ancestors go back four generations in the Kashan carpet weaving and export business--as in during the Ghajars--and Mr Khalili is a well known publisher of Iran related books. They knew that Israeli consulates sometimes offer assistance in organizing and funding such excursions, so he approached Mr. Dayan's office. As a result of this initiative by two members of the Jewish Iranian community, a cooperative machinery kicked into action to accommodate the brainchild of these two community activists. The visit may even include seeing President Shimon Peres of Israel who has tentatively made time to meet with the small Iranian group Mr. Haroonian is hosting. What is noteworthy here is how members of the Jewish community have ready access to their country's communal resources, including political and high ceremonial institutions. In our Iranian mythology, access to the powerful is a sign of a just rule; today it is a key indicator of democracy.   

My primary interest in this trip will be to find out how our Iranian Jews have fared in Israel culturally. Do Iranian-Israelis compare favorably to Iranian-Americans in keeping our traditional art, music and literature alive and growing. How many have achieved worldwide scientific distinctions? But I will also be asking how it is that Israeli journalists do not go to jail for asking, "Is this any way to treat the Palestinians?" or how it is that an Israeli political protester, unlike his Iranian counterpart, is not tortured or raped in prison even though the country feels under constant threat. The Palestinian conundrum notwithstanding, how do the Israeli Jews maintain a democracy among themselves inside a turbulence of discordant opinions, lifestyles, and values?   

Since this is an internet forum, feel free to ask your own questions that may lead to constructive answers towards an Iranian democracy. I'll see what I can learn and share. For Israel critics who suspect America's generous military aid to Israel indirectly reimburses the cost of such trips, the incentive to ask useful questions and engage in constructive discussion has an extra component: this could be your tax money, use it well >>> Part 2


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more from Ari Siletz
Multiple Personality Disorder

Anat Kam, an Israeli journalist under house arrest

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

Hi Ari,

I looked up the name of the Israeli journalist who is under arrest in Israel.  I found the information in Wikipedia.  If you're interested to read up on it, or use the information for your trip, which by the way I wish you great success.

Here it is:



The Anglican vicar and the Santo Daime

by Aryana-Vaeja on

I'm so sorry for your condition, Alborz, really. You have my sympathies. Here's a Xmas wish for you to have a home and a big tub of icy cold water to sit in :)

The sarcasm aside, you Haifan Bahais live in glass houses and continue to throw at others. I found it quite hilarious when your sidekick here instanced an Anglican clergyman praising your Haifa-Disney hanging gardens of Babylon. I had seen the segment before and found it rich beyond words, and then Faryar comes along  and links the video trying to score points in an argument. LOL! That was great :D

Anyway, the good Anglican vicar went to Brazil and even hung out with the Ayahuasca Santa Daime church:


May we be amongst those who are to bring about the transfiguration of the Earth - Yasna XXX 9


To cast a stone...

by alborz on

... you have to be homeless!

To have to be smoldering!



Oh, yes, the reverend Anglican clergyman

by Aryana-Vaeja on

Who genuflected to your Haifa Disneyland. This was shown here in OZ sometime ago. It does not surprise me that an Anglican clergyman would praise your Twilight Zone hanging gardens of Babylon in Haifa - while lambasting against Muslims, Jews, Druze and non-Anglican Christians in the same program - since after all your cult is their pet. All he was doing was promoting for Her Majesty's Royal Britannic investment on Mount Carmel, Israel. This segment was such a transparent piece of British pro-Bahai propaganda that I laughed for days afterwards that your British petmasters aren't even pretending anymore to be your leash-holders. It doesn't get any more obvious than this. What an idiot you are, Faryar, that you don't see it. LOL!

But the Israelis, whose country it is, rightfully think you and your organization are a kooky cult, and the documentary/travel brochure that Israelis (not the British) make of you casts your organization in its true cultist light. I'll take the Israeli one over the British one any day.


May we be amongst those who are to bring about the transfiguration of the Earth - Yasna XXX 9


You call a preconceived agenda, "independent" and unbiased?

by faryarm on

You call a preconceived opinion "independent" and unbiased?

They start the film with a nutty preconceived notion, an agenda bent on the idea that there is someting shidden and inister, going on in these buildings..They then go on a wild goose chase trying desperately to find something, anything to prove their point...

Every time they realize they are going nowhere  , they jump on to something else.. resorting to shameful and dishonest tactics, to force a point.

It could really pass as a spoof to showcae and ridicule those with conspiracy theory mindset, the kind that you Nima Hazini/Wahid Azal/Aryana have made a career out of with your 24/7 sunrise to sunset internet sessions.

It is currently a favorite of the Islamic Republic's Anti Bahai Campaign.; consistent with every lie and accusation they have manufactured against Bahais.

I am sure that if at anytime you lose your current means of support, they are standing by; all you have to do is to contact their nearest...

Wouldn't it be amazing ,if Nadeem Khan returned your call?

I hope Ari will the time and opportunity to come back with a viewpoint; with a great opportunity for you to conjure up something really juicy, like accuse him of something you don't like, like a Bahai.




This documentary is part 39 of a series by a Christian Clergyman travelling the world.




by Aryana-Vaeja on

You call an independently made documentary film about your cult by Israelis (and not the IRI) "paranoid" while internal propaganda peddled by your own cult is labeled 'balanced', 'first hand' and 'unbiased'.

Yes, Ari, by all means do visit the Haifa-Disney Twilight Zone with its meglomaniacal religious hanging gardens of Babylon on Mt Carmel where up is down and down is up.

May we be amongst those who are to bring about the transfiguration of the Earth - Yasna XXX 9


Yes, Ari :)

by faryarm on

Please do visit;

A more balanced, first hand and unbiased and altogether less paranoid opinion would be welcome.




Ari, What a great opportunity to see & report first hand...

by faryarm on

Dear Ari,

What a great opportunity to see and report first hand what most of us are not able to do..

I look forward to reading your first hand opinion and impression.

As Alborz has already suggested, if you have time do try and arrange a visit to the historic Prison city of AKKA (Acre) and Haifa.

Your insight and unique impression would no doubt be greatly appreciated.



Bon Voyage...

by Golinedairani on

"چون ايران نباشد تن من مباد" Na gaza  na lebannon Janam fadaye Iran...



by elhrac on

I believe the stamp is a reference to Operation Magic Carpet, the IDF operation that rescued the Jews from Yemen and brought them to Israel.


Ari jan, I hope you're joking

by Q on

I'm familiar with that story. But do you honestly think there is a human being on earth who hasn't lost "36 people" from some ancestral grouping in the last 300 years? Muslims, Turks, Afghans, Martians... you name it. The Spanish Inquisition was still being practed at that time!

If that's the argument against living with Palestinians, what is the majority Ashkenazim's excuse? The worst Arab-hating zealots in Israel today are from the US and Russia where they didn't even go through the Holocaust, and certainly could not point to any hostility with Muslims in their historical background. Many seem to be having no problem living and traveling to traditionally antisemetic countries like US, Spain, Germany and Russia, let alone Iran which houses the biggest jewish population in the Muslim Middle East. Yet all the vitriol is reserved against Muslims (and now Iranians). Doesn't that ever make you think? There are maybe 150,000 jews living in Moscow today, after all they have done to Jews, by your argument that should be unacceptable.

These are just excuses! People who promote hate and make money on it (which includes the rulers of Israel) have an agenda on who it is you are supposed to be "hating" this week, complete with historical footnotes and racial undertones. I don't want to see you and your Mashhadi buddies falling for it, but it sounds like you have. This is exactly the problem! I was talking about just this!


It is easy to be over charmed by likes of Jacob Dayan ...

by reader1 on

It is easy to be over charmed by likes of Jacon Dayan whose job is to get the best for Jews of Israel and  not necessarily for those who live within its borders.  Now that you have allowed yourself to be sucked into one of the biggest and the most sophisticated PR machinery ever known to man,  I hope you will find  a chance to escape from the set protocol and meet with victims of this unholy machinery and those decent Israelis who oppose occupation  and suppression.

Good luck and I  look forward to reading your report.

PS  Cannot wait to read the story about Mashadi Jews  -  I have added it to  the  list of presents for the holiday season.


"Is real?" or "Unreal?"

by Demo on

Is not the so called historical Zionists' & Immigrant Jews' claim to the land called "Israel" as "illusive" as the "Solomon's Magic Carpet" depicted on their "dreamlike" stamp @ the top of the article???? 


Yes, Ari

by Aryana-Vaeja on

Do visit the creepy Disneyland religious theme park on Mt Carmel. Alborz will see to it that you have access to all the sites and sounds others don't normally get to see. His senior position in the Haifan Bahai officiocracy will see to that.  Before you go, though, here is an independently made Israeli travel brochure to the Bahai wholly places in Haifa and Acre for your perusal.


May we be amongst those who are to bring about the transfiguration of the Earth - Yasna XXX 9


Do visit Haifa and Jaffo...

by alborz on

... if you have a chance.

Jaffo's bazaar is primarily run by Iranian shopkeepers who run their business just as their ancestors did in Yazd, Isfahan and elsewhere in Iran.  During slow times, they spend their time playing backgammon and employ the same tactics of making a sale of another era - including "ghabel nadare".

Even though you are focusing on Iranian Jews in Israel, it may be appropriate to visit the Baha'i holy places in Haifa and Akko.  You may be able to get to see some of the places that tourists don't see, by contacting the Information officer , in NY, in advance to make the necessary arrangements.

Safe Travels,



Ari Siletz

Hooshang Targol, English web source

by Ari Siletz on

The attack and forced conversion happened in 1839. The event is called Allah daad in history. Here's a google book that's a great browse on the subject of Mashahdi Jews, their coming from Gilan via Ghazvin to Mahshad, Nader Shah's motives, British, Russians, Ghajars etc.


Been following the comments and suggestion folks. Thanks.



by Rea on

Curious to read the rest, the after trip.


Hamsadeh, you master of Rhetoric!

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

But I take the bait anyway. I think in Abarmard & co's universe to be qualified as oppressed, one needs to:

a)Be an Arab, not any Arab, but one with full Hizbullah/Hamas membership.

b) Dislike the Jews.

We dont have many, if any of them in Gilan, But I'll look, while looking for pino_Q's Zionists!

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."

hamsade ghadimi

don't forget to visit the victims, part 2

by hamsade ghadimi on

gilani, i thought you're going back to iran in response to arabmard's advice: to visit the oppressed.


heard the joke about Jewish/Rashti guy and his kalleh Mahi???

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

Neither Have I. But  as a Gilani, I am proud to say that support for Islamist regime is minimal in Gilan. Nor am I  aware of a significat Zionist movement in that province! But in my next trip back home I'll double check and report back, just to put pino_Q's seinal mind at ease!

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."


Jewish Jokes

by Faramarz on

Have a Safe Trip Ari.

One of my Jewish/Israeli friends of Yemeni heritage told me that Iranian Jews are famous among other Jews to be extremely tight and stingy! And they are actually the subject of Jewish jokes by the other Jews.

Can you do a quick survey and find out if that's true and how it started? Also, a few Jewish jokes would be much appreciated!

Hoshang Targol

The last Kabbalist of Rasht!

by Hoshang Targol on

Aghay Ari, thank you for all the info on Rashti jews, I didn't know any of this history, was wondering if the source for this was in English or Farsi?

There is also the same story of forced conversion with Jews in Iberia, I haven't read "The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon" but it deals with the same phenomenon during or right after Inquisition. I once read that the largest mass conversion of jew to islam in Iran (which occured in Mash'had) was around 1870's , does that sound accurate to you?

It's really heart warming to see our own resident little jojeh-inquisitors on these pages.

On the serious side there are a number of wonderful palestinian-israeli labor organizations, mainly amongst israeli palestinians. Your schedule is probably too croweded already but.....


I just couldn't resist, hope you all like it:

The Spanish Inquisition



بسیار جالبه


که در این سایت صدها مقاله درباره ایران و ایرانیها هست.  آقای Q فقط و فقط تک و توکی برای آنها کامنت میذاره و وقتی‌ هم کامنت میذاره برای تائید و دفاع از جمهوری وحشی اسلامی است.  اما همینکه یک بلاگ یا مقاله‌ای درباره فلسطین و اسرائیل پیدا میشه Q فورا سبز میشه و و به اندازهٔ یک کتاب اراجیف مینویسه.  حالا دیگه خودتون قضاوت کنید که برای این شخص چی‌ مهم است، ایران یا فلسطین. 


Good luck

by MRX1 on

and while you are on your way take these tazi arabo omati palestenian worshipers with you and drop them in Gaza , west bank or where ever they feel at home!


Ari jon, have a safe trip and do not mind the

by Cost-of-Progress on

arrogance of the satirical hypocrite AN-tellectual bache akhoond bazaari poster residing in LA. 




Ari Siletz

Q, my travels to Rasht

by Ari Siletz on

I’ll go to Rasht on the imaginary trip you set me on, but let me go to the time period of my own choosing. I pick circa 1740 when Nader Shah (Sunni) relocated a group of Jews from Rasht and other Gilan towns and moved them to Kelat near Mashad to help him run his finances (and also to break with the Safavid Shiite intolerance). After Nader Shah was assassinated, these Mashadi Jews (mash Jews?) were left defenseless against Shiite anti-Semitism. The persecution peaked during Mohamad Shah Ghajar when a crowd attacked their shops and homes, burned their books and synagogues, killed 36 of them and forcibly converted the rest to Shiism. These Rashti origin--now Mashadi--Iranians led double lives as Shiite Jews(!) until briefly during Reza Shah they could surface as who they really were. But as soon as WW II started they were labeled as spies responsible for Iran’s war troubles. They were mobbed and attacked again, so they moved to Tehran. These Rashti origin, Mashadi Jews of Tehran residency took a break from their travels during Mohamad Reza Pahlavi, but after the 79 revolution they finally had enough. So they up and left Iran altogether. Guess where they went? A good many of them now live in Israel (and New York and Milan). And this story has been repeated for the ancestors or parents or even selves of almost every Jew that now lives in Israel.


 Now you want me to go tell the Mashadi Jews in Israel, “Don’t worry yourselves; you will safely live in harmony as one nation here with Muslim Palestinians for centuries to come.” I actually sincerely believe that; but that’s only because I’m woefully naive.


Wow, that's a disappointing answer...

by Q on

You're welcome to do what you want in your own government sponsored trip. But contemplate this question:

What if you were given the opportunity and the free ride to go to Iran to study the plight of the Rashtis of the Gilan province?

Would you accept  the invitation? If you did, would you keep your mouth shut about every other group or the crimes against humanity that are taking place elsewhere? Would you not ask about stoning or Bahais? Would you keep your mouth shut if you met Ahmadinejad and just say "my primary concern is Rashtis".

Let's think about what would happen to you on IC, if you did such a thing, what would be the reaction of the proud "nationalists" on this board? I'll give you the visual: kheshtaketo paeen mikeshand!

I'm not saying refuse the trip or spit in Shimon Perez' face when you see him (as the aforementioned types demand you do on a similar Iran trip), but why not ask him these very pertinent questions when you have a chance?

You say these are not relevant to Iranian and security of the region, I disagree wholeheartedly. This is an issue of peace, the absense of which is the single greatest threat to Iranians and Israelis.

First is the fact that the constant racism and injustice against palestinians are great indicators of what the Israeli-bred attitudes and policies toward Iranians are. (for example, just like Gaza, they think Iran will submit like animals if food is taken away by sanctions).

But second and more importantly, just think a little more wholistically about what is going on in the region. How did it come to this? Where would things would be today if Israelis treated Palestinians as equals with dignity? Where would Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be, if there was peace in Palestine with a significant majority of Palestinians happily co-existing with Israel? Where would Hamas and Hezbollah be? Where would these "security issues" be if Israel had given up its nuclear weapons or at least undergone the same monitoring that is ready to bomb Iran for? Where would the Avigdor Lieberman's of Israel be if it was truly independent of Uncle Sam and felt even modestly like its beligerant actions had some consequences?

What is the incentive for peace, if there is plenty of money and no down side to war? Why bother when uncompromising hostility is working out just fine for Israeli ruling elite? Isn't this the real reason why Iran's pathetic nuclear program is worth starting WW3 for them?

The questions I raised are absolutely related to the direct well being of Iranians and possibilities of violent outburst in the region.

I repeat once again my strong suspicion: this is all about immigration which is the only thing really hurting Israel and threatening it's continued domination. This is what everybody has observed that Israel is spending serious bux on these days. The point is to make Israel seem safe and stable for immigration. Both Iranian jews and American jews are targets of the propaganda offensive. 

Ari Siletz

Thanks Yolanda for the article

by Ari Siletz on

This passage about why the US did not give a green light for an Iran attack makes me think:  "...US concern over Iran's likely retaliation, which would probably include a wave of attacks on US military and other personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan..." Here's why it makes me think:The recent elimination of two Iranian scientists would involve calculating a "likely retaliation." So some decision makers must have thought the cost of escalation is now worth the higher stakes. A shift in the situation for the worse! 



by yolanda on

I am just curious if Shaul Mofaz is still hawkish......he is the former Israeli defence Minister.......he is a Persian Jew born in Tehran....

 Here is an excerpt from a UK Guardian article:

A few days later, Israel's deputy prime minister, Shaul Mofaz, told the paper Yediot Ahronot: "If Iran continues its programme to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The window of opportunity has closed. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no alternative but to attack Iran in order to stop the Iranian nuclear programme."


Enjoy your trip! Look forward to read your report!



by Wellwisher on

I doubt that “the dangerously hostile anti-Israel rhetoric coming from the IRI” has anything to do with the stated goal of your trip (“how our Iranian Jews have fared in Israel culturally”), or with the emigration of Iranian Jews, or non-Jews, per se. I will however, be interested in reading your travelogue and views about the book I suggested.

There are a lot here in the IC about the merit and demerit of the dangerously hostile anti-Israel rhetoric coming from the IRI”.  If you are not already nauseated, I’ll be happy to review them with you, when you are back.