Thousands of Iranians Seek Asylum in Israel

May 20, 2020  

Caught between an oppressive regime and the raging coronavirus pandemic, Israel’s Foreign Ministry says thousands of Iranians are requesting help to escape to Israel.

By Yakir Benzion

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem said Wednesday it has seen a huge increase in the number of Iranians asking Israel for help as that country suffers from the brutal regime and the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Thousands of people are asking to come to Israel for medical assistance or to emigrate,” Yiftah Curiel, head of Digital Diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry, told the Jerusalem Post.

“There are lots of Iranians in Iran and in the diaspora who support Israel, reject the regime and want to see a different future between the two countries,” Curiel said.

 

Iranians have been contacting Israel by email and private messages sent to the ministry’s Persian-language social media accounts, or by posting open messages on social media, but using false names to avoid being arrested by the authorities who ban any contact with Israel.

Many of the messages are serious requests from Iranians seeing asylum in Israel.

“Sometimes they are from people who have been forced to flee and are refugees in other countries, or people who had to flee after expressing solidarity with Israel,” Curiel said.

One message from a 31-year-old Iranian told the ministry, “I escaped Iran because of the corrupt regime. I asked for asylum in Turkey, and my wife and 4-year-old daughter and I are in unlivable conditions; there is no one who can help. We have been abandoned and our lives are in danger.”

A message from a man claiming to be a Jewish soldier in the Iranian army said being Jewish was a “political and religious crime, I have to flee Iran. Please direct me how to receive asylum in Israel? Please answer me. My life is in danger and I cannot stay in Iran.”

The ministry’s Persian social media program is run by Sharona Avginsaz, who made aliyah from Iran in 1988. Its Twitter account has 220,000 followers and there are almost half a million on Instagram.

Most Iranians “see Israel as a modern, progressive, democratic country, and that is one of the reasons for this wave of messages to our pages,” Avginsaz said, adding that Iranians these days are more aware because of the internet and those who contact her know that Iran’s anti-Israel propaganda is a lie.

The number of requests has overwhelmed her department’s ability to answer each message.

“We have a very receptive audience,” Curiel said.


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