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Spotlight on Iranian Jews in Israel

As tension between the two countries escalates

Stephanie Butnick
February 08, 2012

NPR has a report today on Iranian Jews living in Israel who find themselves in the uncomfortable situation of feeling deeply concerned for Israel’s security while also worrying about relatives in Iran as tension between the two countries escalates. “Some 250,000 people of Persian descent live in Israel, and that migration continues,” the article states, also noting that Iran has the second-largest Jewish community in the Middle East.

In November, Pejman Yousefzadeh, an Iranian-American Jew, articulated a similar sense of widespread concern in Tablet Magazine:

And, finally, there is Iran’s conflict with Israel. It’s an issue that torments Iranian Jews, who care deeply about what happens to Iran but are not willing to see the Islamic regime harm Israel’s security interests or the lives of innocent Israelis—many of whom are émigrés from Iran. Were it a conflict with any other country antagonistic toward Israel, Iranian Jews would have significantly less hesitation—if any—in endorsing a military response to any threat to Israel. But in this case, the country antagonistic toward Israel is Iran, to which Iranian Jews naturally and obviously continue to feel a deep tie. As such, Iranian Jews are faced with a revolting choice: endorse military strikes against Iran that may—or may not—set back the nuclear program but may also kill scores of Iranians, or do nothing and gamble that Israel will not be consumed by a nuclear conflagration.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.