Feiler Faster

I linked to this article yesterday and there was some confusion about what I wrote, so I’m starting from scratch. One joy of my two trips to Iran in recent years was plunging deep into the Jewish community. At 35,000, the Jewish community in Iran is larger than in any other country in the Middle East outside of Israel. One way Iranians justify this in their own minds is by distinguishing between “Jews” and “Zionists,” a distinction that has become more challenging in recent years as the new Iranian president has intensified his rhetoric against Israel and the holocaust. But Iranian Jews are committed to Iran; if not, most would have followed the hundreds of thousands who fled for the United States, Europe, or Israel after the Revolution in 1979.
That committment was tested in recent months as some wealthy Jews outside Iran began offerring money for Iranian Jews to emigrate. I don’t know much about the origins of this program, though it’s not dissimilar from the aid the Israeli government has offerred Jews who move to Israel for generations. Reports suggest the Israeli government endorsed the program, and I’m sure the Iranian government might have endorsed it, too, if given the chance.
Either way, they were turned down flat.

Iran’s Jews have given the country a loyalty pledge in the face of cash offers aimed at encouraging them to move to Israel, the arch-enemy of its Islamic rulers.
The incentives – ranging from £5,000 a person to £30,000 for families – were offered from a special fund established by wealthy expatriate Jews in an effort to prompt a mass migration to Israel among Iran’s 25,000-strong Jewish community. The offers were made with Israel’s official blessing and were additional to the usual state packages it provides to Jews emigrating from the diaspora.
However, the Society of Iranian Jews dismissed them as “immature political enticements” and said their national identity was not for sale.
“The identity of Iranian Jews is not tradable for any amount of money,” the society said in a statement. “Iranian Jews are among the most ancient Iranians. Iran’s Jews love their Iranian identity and their culture, so threats and this immature political enticement will not achieve their aim of wiping out the identity of Iranian Jews.”

It seems the government even doubled their initial offer and were still turned down. The diaspora, which was invented in Iran 2500 years ago under Cyrus the Great, lives. Bravo.

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