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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Persian Jews about Immigration to Israel: Hell no, we won't go

What is behind the strange reluctance of Jews to leave places where they are in obvious danger? Iran is ruled by a Holocaust -denying bigot. It is not a got place for ethnic Persians to live. It can't really be a good place for Jews, yet Iran's Jews are apparently obstinate. Why do Jews always wait until it is too late?
Text of report by web version of Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv on 8 July

[Report by Eli Bradenstein: "Israel to Iranian Jews: Immigration At Any Price"]

Israel is trying to find new ways of encouraging immigration from Iran in the wake of a lack of desire on the part of thousands of Iranian Jews to leave. In order to do this, an expatriate group of Iranian Jewish donors, which is behind a special fund to encourage aliyah from the land of the ayatollahs, is now offering approximately $60,000 to every Jewish family that comes to Israel, which will be in addition to the regular absorption basket.

Only a few months ago, the fund decided to grant an incentive of $5,000 to every new immigrant, but this did not persuade Iranian Jews, many of whom are comfortably off, to leave.

The fund has now decided to double the sum for every new immigrant, and to offer $10,000 in the hope that it will persuade Iranian Jews to come to Israel.

If the Jews do decide to come to Israel as whole families, they will also receive thousands more dollars: $2,000 for a head of family and $1,500 for a mother and each of her children. More than $1 million has been invested in the fund, and it is operated by means of one of the major aliyah organizations in Israel. Unconnected with the grants, the new immigrants also receive the regular absorption basket like other immigrants, as well as mortgages on easy terms.

The news of the grant has been published on an Israeli Internet site in Persian, which has been launched in order to convey vital information on the process of aliyah. It has also been reported on Israel Radio's Persian-language service, and is being passed on by means of various organizations and relatives to Jews in Iran.

Some 20,000 Jews live in Iran, mostly in Tehran. It is the largest remaining Jewish community in the Arab states. According to reports, many of them are comfortably off and free to practise their religion and provide religious education for their children. Given that, most are not interested in leaving Iran. However, Iran's Jews visit Israel a lot to see their relatives, and Israelis of Iranian origin pay family and business visits there. Iranian Jews who live in the United States also make frequent visits to family in Iran.

"In contrast to the previously laughable sum, we are now talking about a sizeable sum, and if a whole family decides to make aliyah, they will receive tens of thousands of dollars - a serious sum that could really persuade Jews to leave there and come to Israel, and assist in their absorption here," Ma'ariv was told by sources that are dealing with Iranian immigrants.

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