Tuesday, September 27, 2011

American hiker is son of Iraqi-born Israeli

Josh Fattal greeted with a hug in Muscat, Oman on his release from Evin prison, Tehran, Iran

The story can now be told. For more than two years, relatives of Josh Fattal, one of the two American hikers freed from prison in Iran last week, managed to hide a vital piece of information from his captors: Fattal's family is Israeli, Haaretz reports. But what took a man like Fattal, with his Iraqi background, into the heart of darkness? The answer is that as a universalist with a penchant for alternative lifestyles, his Jewish identity sounds rather dilute. (With thanks: Lily)

Jacob Fattal, Josh's father, immigrated to Israel from Basra, Iraq in 1951. He lived with his parents and siblings in the Kiryat Ono transit camp, and later in Pardes Katz. After his military service, he left for the United States, where he studied engineering and raised a family. Today, he is the publisher of a high-tech magazine distributed in the United States, Europe and Asia.

"We're very happy; it's the greatest gift we could have dreamed of receiving for Rosh Hashanah," Jacob Fattal told Haaretz yesterday.

Jacob's two sisters and his brother, who live in Israel's central region, knew about the arrest from the first day.

"The problem was their being American, not Jewish," Fattal said of the freed hikers. "The Iranians used them as a political weapon for two years."

To avoid drawing attention to the family's background, Josh's brother and mother led the campaign to free him, while Jacob refrained from giving media interviews.

"I want to thank the media in the United States and Israel for cooperating with us," Fattal said.

Now that his son is back home in a Philadelphia suburb, Fattal can contact the family of another Israeli captive.

Read article in full

Long piece in the Jewish Exponent

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thank God for that
Now what we want is Gilat Shalit's liberation. But is he still alive?
suzy vidal