Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Interesting thoughts of an Israeli diplomat

Still in his 30s, the talented Consul-General of Israel for the Southwestern region of the United States, Ehud Danoch, has been sharing his thoughts with the Iranian Jewish Chronicle: (with thanks: Albert)

Interviewer: Recently I had the pleasure of chatting with Mr. Danoch about his background, the current situation in Israel, his efforts in the Consulate, as well as the Consulate’s outreaching to our community through a new program designed to encourage young Iranian Jews who have never been to Israel, to travel to their homeland. (...)

Q:This past May you spoke at the Magbit Foundation Gala in Beverly Hills about the local Iranian Jewish community being among the ones who have come to admire. Can you please elaborate on why you have such admiration for our community?

A: The Iranian Jewish community is a unique and special community. They are very warm, open, and very welcoming. When I mentioned what I said it was because I know what their families went through, I know what the parents and the grandparents went through. I myself have learned about Iranian history - not only Iranian Jewish history which is very cultural and traditional, I have also learned about the political history of Iran. If you follow the political issues that took place in Iran, you understand that it was not easy for the Jewish people there. There was a time that there were great political relations but after the revolution many of their families left for Europe, Israel, and the United States. When you take a community that is so strongly rooted and very traditional, it’s beautiful to see Shabbat dinners with Persian families. But they are the ones that understand it very well because in 1979 the majority of them came to Israel, now imagine God forbid if there was no State of Israel there. This specific community because they suffered a lot understands very well the importance of the State of Israel and I admire this.

Q: What else can the Iranian Jewish community specifically do at this time to support Israel in other ways?

Something that concerns me is that their children are getting wonderful educations and the parents are investing a lot in them, but I was surprised to see many of the students have not been to Israel. Many people between the age of 25 to 35 in the Iranian Jewish community have never been to Israel. You have to ask yourself what will happen in the future? (...) I am planning and I would like the help of the Iranian Jewish community here for a new project. I would like to arrange a trip for those young students from the Iranian Jewish community that have never been to Israel-maybe 30 students and we’ll do it every year. (...)

Q: Issues of Iran and the Iranian President’s calls for Israel to be “wiped off the map” have been on the minds of many Jews, particularly Iranian Jews here in Southern California. To what extent has Israel taken into consideration the potential reprisals Iran’s regime may take on the near 25,000 Jews still living in Iran in the event of a strike led by Israel or U.S.?

A: Israel will do everything in its power to protect every Jew that is living in the Diaspora. But with it, if you ask me, it’s very simple to come and to say “leave Iran”- but yes, leave Iran. Why are those Jewish people still living there? It’s a bit difficult. I know from people here that they are very concerned about some of their family living in Iran.

Q:Your family is of Yemenite descent and we also see many Iranian Jews in prominent position in Israeli government. How have the lives and opportunities for Sephardim in Israel changed since its establishment?

There is no question of Sephardim and Ashkenazim in Israel. It was an issue 50 years ago but there isn’t an issue today and the proof that it isn’t an issue is that fifty percent of the cabinet today [in the Israeli government] are Sephardim and also in the former cabinet. We have a President, Minister of Defense, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief of the Army, who are all Sephardim as well.

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