Orly Azoulay's recent reports of her visit to Iran have caused quite a stir in the Islamic Republic, which has come out against Ynet's print-publication Yediot Ahronoth's "Zionist emissary who managed to enter the country under the noses of the authorities."
Armed with a visa issued by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, and without making any efforts to conceal her identity, Azoulay went to Iran as part of a delegation organized by the New York Times - and was warmly welcomed by her hosts.
Orly Azoulay in Iran (Photo courtesy of Orly Azoulay)
After leaving the country, she described her visit in a report published over the Passover holidays, telling of her time in Tehran, her visits to a synagogue in Isfahan and the tomb of Queen Esther in Hamedan, and various other experiences in the country.
The report has now sparked an outcry in Iran, with the media and social networks filled with discussions on how and why Azoulay received permission to visit the country.
The members of the Jewish community of Isfahan won't discuss Netanyahu's speech to Congress and are adamant in their loyalty to the state. 'We don't talk politics,' they say. On Tuesday, the Lenziran video website published an extensive report on the subject of the "Zionist journalist," charging that Azoulay's reports are false.
"She has no business here other than espionage," said one Iranian member of parliament who appeared in the Lenziran report. "The question is: where is our intelligence system?"
The report also described how the various Iranian government ministries are trying to blame one another for the "oversight." And according to the report's presenter, "Azoulay's entry into Iran is like a virus entering the human body."
Orly Azoulay finds herself watching Netanyahu's Congress speech from the lobby of an Iranian hotel, and encounters a country desperate for a deal that will free it from crippling sanctions.
In response to Azoulay's article, the spokesman for the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Hossein Nooshabadi, said she had "entered Iran on an American passport, she didn't have a press card and came in as a tourist, an American resident with an American group – the Foreign Ministry and intelligence services must therefore provide an answer."
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Video (Hebrew) shows Orly Azoulay visiting the tomb of Esther in Hamadan where 15 Jews remain, and the synagogue in Isfahan where one member sings a song wishing for peace between the peoples of Iran and Israel.