The Persian Jewish Community of Beverly Hills

In Israel there are jokes from every conceivable origin, for Israel is a country made up of a diversity of Jews. They returned from the Diaspora and joined the few that have been here throughout time. The Persian community is thus no different than any other. These jokes have a grain of truth and help us laugh at ourselves and at the variations we all bring to this melting pot of Israeli society.

The Persian community is characterized, in my mind’s eye, by three traits: close-knit, the value it places on education and its staunch support of Israel. From celebrating holidays, to gathering as a protector when a disaster befalls, the Persians are very family- oriented. Second, parents would do anything to provide the very best education to their children. Academic achievement and the aspiration to become lawyers, doctors, architects and other professionals are engrained in the community and form a very strong value.

Then comes Israel. The Persian community outside of Iran (first and foremost in my hometown of Beverly Hills, where one third of the community is Persian, and then in London and elsewhere) has a very soft spot for Israel. When Israel is attacked, members of the Persian community open their homes and their wallets, and the money flows. There are no questions asked, no need to elaborate on anything but routes to help. This extraordinary support stems from the same family values – the Persians feel Israel is a very important member of their families, thus they would stop at nothing when the need arises.

According to different estimates, there are 25,000 – 30,000 Jews in Iran today. I, for one, do not understand why they are still there. Clearly they are not being held hostage, for everyone else is able to go in and out. A friend was employing a young, religious Jew from Iran who went back from the States to Iran last year to marry. Being true to my natural curiosity and what I consider journalistic obligation and integrity, I would have taken a flight to Tehran to personally inspect, witness, investigate and report. In the case of Iran, though, I am afraid.

If I were to do that, I likely would be taken prisoner, either as an American spy or a Zionist agent-conspirator. My devotion to the profession is noble, but my obligations to myself and my family are greater than risking being used as a parade icon by the Iranian regime. Thus, I am left wondering about the fate of the Iranian Jews and reminisce about the beautiful places in Iran, from the Caspian Sea to Shiraz and Isfahan, the bazaars and the palaces, the rug and metal industries (not the missiles type though) and the vast deserts – all places I saw in person thirty-some years ago.

The Persians never considered themselves Middle Eastern Arabs. Their history, culture and language all point to a more sophisticated people. This must always be lurking in the back of their minds, separating them from the rest, elevating them to a different status. We must also be cognizant of it at all times, as we are too often quick to dismiss the Iranian threat. Iranians are much more sophisticated and technologically advanced than we realize or want to admit. The threat is real.

Let us make no mistakes: The threat is not only Iran militarizing its nuclear powers. There are many other ways to inflict harm, from chemical to biological warfare, from cyber-terrorism to electro-magnetic pulse, from creating ecological disasters with long-term implications (such as setting oil fields on fire or closing the Straits of Hormuz and contaminating the water via oil spills) to other unthinkable “technologies” only Iran was able to fathom and perfect. Iran has mastered all these techniques and has a few more up its sleeve (including armies of homicide bombers, human carriers of biological agents, etc.).

Iran has sent her best and brightest to study in the USA. There is currently no reliable figure of all “true Iranians” (as opposed to those who sought refuge after the fall of the Shah in 1979 and the rise of Khomeini). They are still here, doing their doctoral or post-doctoral studies. Many others work at technology or scientific companies at the forefront of research and development. All is done complements of – and in – the United States of America.

Thus, when Iranian President Ahmadinejad warns Israel and America, I listen very attentively. These are not just empty words or idle threats. They are a statement of action to be carried out at Iran’s timeframe and convenience. For us the horizon is much closer, time units much shorter, everything has to happen here and now (much like all else in our daily lives and the expectation of immediate gratification). The case with Iran is diametrically different.

I was thus moved by the loyalty not only of Iranian Jews but Muslim Iranians living outside Iran today who responded to my December 1st Report from Israel (“The Advancing Storm”). When Christians, Muslims and Jews can stand together as a barrier in the face of the ever-increasing Storm of the Century, one knows that times are desperate, that we fathom the dangers and that we can rely on one another to fight together (albeit for different reasons altogether).

May the Almighty who blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walk with us at this time. May we have the courage to proceed, the strength to hold to our beliefs and truths and the wisdom and power to win in a way that will ensure we can continue occupying this plant called Earth. May G-d Bless Israel.

Re: Creation of volunteer Iranian Relief Organization for Israel

Dear Ari,

Your honest truth about what is in store for Israel has greatlydisturbed all of us. I have had discussion with our small group and sure many Iranians will feel the same.

Please think about this idea and let us know.

Proposal: Creation of Iranian War relief Volunteers Organizationfor Israel

Basically the idea is simple. We willrecruit volunteers from the exiled Iranian community to assistthe people of Israel if any hostility breaks out.

This is a civilian, humanitarian group regardless of their fate,to come to Israel and lend hand any way possible to reduce the burden of our fellow Israeli brothers and sisters.

The recruits will be wide range of volunteers. Doctors, Nurses, Engineers, Civil Servants, Cooks, drivers Etc.

If a school teacher is calledto service, there will be volunteer as His/Her substitute. If a building is hit by a rocket, we will be there to help clear the debris.

If there is a need for a cook in community centers we will be there to give all we got.

The funding for this Corp. can be gathered within our community and other relief organizations.We aresure there are countless Iranians who feel the same way we do. They will volunteer to help in any way possible.

In addition to above, the formation of this group will be hard slap on the corrupt face of the killer Mullah’sruling Iran by force! Just imagine the publicity!

The creation of this volunteer group will give a clear message to the world that Iranians and Israeli population have no animosity towards each other. It is the shameless regime for their survival are trying to make us enemies.

Please check with the decision makers to see if we are allowed to do such a thing and get their inputs as well.

One thing for sure. You already have 10 volunteers!

Good luck and God Bless our dear friend.

[Written by a Muslim Iranian. This Postcard is in his tribute.]

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