Nearly a dozen Iranian activists opposed to the Islamic regime in Iran – from northern and southern California as well as Europe – traveled to Israel last month in an effort to raise awareness among Israeli political leaders, academics, non-governmental agencies and the media report on average citizens who have suffered repression from the Iranian regime over the past few months during their heightened public protests.
The 10-day trip called “Mission Shoshana” was organized by the Persian American Civic Action Network (PACAN), a non-profit group that works with various Iranian-American activists to advocate for an end to human rights. the man. abuses perpetrated by the Iranian regime as well as for a secular and democratic government in Iran.
“Our group went to Israel because it is the only country that has consistently spoken out against the Islamic regime in Iran,” said PACAN President Zohreh Mizrahi. “Our goal was to raise awareness of the suffering endured by the Iranian people at the hands of this regime that has not been covered by mainstream American media. We also went to strengthen collaboration between Israelis and Iranian opposition groups and build relationships between Israelis and Iranian activists who want to one day help rebuild Iran when the current regime is overthrown by the Iranian people.
Mizrahi said that during their trip, the PACAN group met with current and former Israeli members of the Knesset as well as Israeli Foreign Ministry officials to ask them to urge US leaders to reject any kind of “deal that would only enrich and embolden the Iranian regime instead”. to help average Iranians.
“We wanted Israeli officials who have the ear of the American leadership to let them know that the Islamic regime does not have the best interests of the Iranian people in mind and to ask for their help in eliminating the regime’s false narrative in world that it represents the Iranian people,” Mizrahi said. “This regime only seeks to promote its own perverted version of Islam to the world and send the wealth of Iranians to terrorists such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Venezuela.”
PACAN’s trip to Israel was not the first time that Iranian-American activists have reached out to Israelis on issues relating to Iran. In 2019, the organization first took a group of 10 Iranian activists to Israel to better familiarize themselves with Israeli society and learn how they could best advance their own public outreach efforts against the Iranian regime.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, PACAN board members decided to suspend travel to Israel, Mizrahi said.
Last year, six Iranian dissidents from the United States also visited Israel on a week-long tour organized by the Southern California-based group. Freedom Voices Institute (iVOL) with the aim of connecting Iranian opposition activists with Israeli experts in water, agriculture and technology.
Dr. Amir Hamidi, a former US diplomat at the US Embassy in the United Arab Emirates who led the PACAN delegation to Israel, said much of the group’s efforts were aimed at asking Israeli government leaders and the media to differentiate the Islamic regime in power. in Iran from the Iranian people when he talks about issues relating to Iran.
“We came to Israel to tell Israelis that the vast majority of Iranians have no hatred for them and we know this firsthand when we hear them protesting and chanting slogans such as ‘not Gaza, not Lebanon, I will only give my life for Iran’ or ‘our enemy is not America or Israel, our enemy is here!’ »
Mizrahi, who is Jewish herself, said nearly all of the mission’s activists were non-Jewish Iranians who had never visited Israel before but were impressed by the warm welcome they received from various Israelis.
“Our group spoke at a conference at Ariel University attended by nearly 100 students and scholars who were very interested in what we had to say because we are immersed in all of Iran – so we offered them unique insights and insights into the enormous hardships Iranians face today with reduced wages, food and water shortages, and the regime’s shutting down of the internet” , Mizrahi said.
Hamidi, who is also a former official of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, said that many who attended his lecture at Ariel University were particularly surprised to learn of the Iranian regime’s efforts in international drug trafficking for 40 years.
“I spoke for an hour and took questions from the audience for another hour – they were totally shocked to learn that the Islamic regime in Iran is running a multi-billion dollar mafia narco-terrorism enterprise whose reach international movement stretches from Kabul in Afghanistan to Caraccas in Venezuela!” says Hamidi.
Professor Ronen Cohen, an Iranian expert and president of the Center for Middle East and Central Asia Research at Ariel University, said those who attended the PACAN participant lectures were particularly interested in learning more about the deep historical ties between Iranians and the Jewish people.
“The real surprise was to hear the message from the delegation that talked about the real connection between Iranians and Jews or Israelis even today and not just from 2,500 years ago,” Cohen said.
Other PACAN activists, such as Nazenin Ansari, editor of the London-based Persian newspaper Kayhan, said they were pleasantly surprised by the reception their group has received from Israelis of Iranian descent.
“The commitment of the Persian Jewish community in Israel to its Iranian cultural heritage and its preservation is astounding! Ansari said. “We met many people who had immigrated to Israel as children, but who were still fluent in Persian. On a few occasions, we encountered people who were not first or second generation Iranians, but still made an effort to trace their roots in Iran.
Hamidi said reporters and editors of the Israeli media he spoke to were unaware of the strong support for Israel and the sense of friendship that Iranians in Iran feel for Israelis.
“Iranians know that Israel, with its advanced technology and water expertise, is best placed to help them rebuild their country after overthrowing this criminal regime.” – Dr. Amir Hamidi
“Iranians know that Israel, with its advanced technology and water expertise, is best placed to help them rebuild their country after toppling this criminal regime,” Hamidi said. “Since my return, about 99% of the private messages I have received from Iranians in Iran about my trip to Israel have been positive and wish to join me next time in Israel!
Len Khodorkovsky, former senior adviser to the US Representative for Iran during the Trump administration, congratulated the PACAN delegation for their visit to Israel. Last year, Khodorkovsky proposed the “Cyrus Accords,” a potential future peace agreement between the Iranian people and the Israelis based on increased interactions between the two peoples.
“The warm relations between the Jewish and Iranian peoples go back to Cyrus the Great,” Khodorkovsky said. “This is another encouraging step towards the era of the Cyrus Accords, when a free and democratic Iran and the Jewish State of Israel will live in peace and mutual prosperity.”
Mizrahi said PACAN leadership plans in the near future to bring other Iranian-American activists and journalists to Israel in hopes of strengthening Iranian-Israeli relations.