Podcast: Iranian Jews on Obama and McCain

More than 300 young professionals members of the local Iranian Jewish “30 Years After” organization gathered at a private residence in Beverly Hills to encourage political activism in the community on June 25th. Our blog’s podcast caught up with a number of young professionals at the event who shed light on how Southern California’s Iranian Jews will most likely be voting in the 2008 presidential race.

Iran is indeed an issue during the election this year and it is particularly important for local Iranian Jews because the majority of them have suffered at the hands of Iran’s regime during or after the 1979 revolution. Obama’s calls to negotiate with Iran’s current regime does not sit well with older Iranian American Jews because many had their assests confiscated by the regime or were terrorized by the regime. So they do not want to see the Iranian Ayatollahs rewarded by any American administration’s welcoming gestures that will legitimize their rule in Iran. Some of Obama’s foreign policy advisers are also former Carter administration advisers who older Iranian Jews and other Iranian Americans blame for helping to bring the current Islamic fundamentalist regime to power in Iran nearly 30 years ago. My article published in the Jewish Journal regarding Iranian Jews views of Obama and McCain can be found here.

Emotions were running high and excitement was in the air among Iranian American Jews in their 20’s and 30’s at the event who expressed a desire to outreach to elected officials in order to get issues important to them addressed. “The tremendous turnout at this event shows that something special is brewing in the Iranian American Jewish community,” said Jonathan Yagoubzadeh, a 30 Years After co-founder. “Whether it’s protecting Israel, improving the economy or solving the energy crisis, Iranian Jews now realize that the decisions our leaders make have a lasting impact on our community and our country”. From my own perspective as a journalist covering the local Iranian Jewish community, I felt the gathering was unique because you don’t typically see such a large turn out of Iranian Jews to a politically-related event…to the contrary, most young Iranian Jews in the L.A. area attend different fundraisers for Jewish or Israel causes in order to meet potential spouses or to network for business purposes. One could say “30 Years After” has created a lot of buzz in the Iranian Jewish community, hopefully they will receive the financial and moral backing of other Iranian Jewish groups who are often uncooperative with one another.

The event’s keynote speaker, L.A. County Sheriff Leroy Baca encouraged young Iranian Jews to volunteer as goodwill ambassadors for the Sheriff’s department. “I am really impressed and inspired by the young members of the Iranian Jewish community’s desire to becoming more involved in Los Angeles as a whole,” said Baca. Other community leaders on hand included L.A. DWP General Manager H. David Nahai, California Assembly member Mike Feuer, former Assembly member Paul Koretz and Beverly Hills City Councilmember Jimmy Delshad. Below are some images I captured from the gathering…

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