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  • Caught In The Middle? Iranian Jews In Israel Worried About Nuke Deal

    Members of the Iranian Jewish community in Israel say Iran’s most skillful negotiators will deceive U.S. and Western leaders over the nuclear deal.

    From The Washington Post:

    “We are the Persians,” Avi Hanassab, a cook in a Tel Aviv market where many Iranian Jews sell spices and dried fruit, warned darkly. “We know how to negotiate.”

    Avi told WaPo reporter Adam Taylor:

    “They sent their best negotiators to negotiate with the States and Europe,” he said, adding that the Iranians would surely dupe the world powers. “The Persians are very smart.”

    He is part of the same Iranian-Israeli family interviewed by BuzzFeed News during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress in March.

    Molouk Hanassab and her husband own Shamshiri, a popular Persian eatery in Tel Aviv. During the Buzzfeed interview, Molouk bemoaned having to hear Netanyahu speak about the Iranian threat again. “He’s [Netanyahu] more popular in D.C. than he is in Jerusalem these days,” she said.

    The restaurant owner told BuzzFeed she still cares about Iran and has a sister living there- adding the nuclear program isn’t the only aspect of the country.

    Israel’s Jewish Iranian community typically holds conservative views in line with Netanyahu’s Likud Party, according to an analyst who spoke to Taylor. Therefore, support for Netanyahu’s position on Iran is little surprise.

    Israel sees Iran as an existential threat, Netanyahu warning U.S. leaders about the risk of a nuclear Iran in March. Iran does not recognize the state of Israel, and its leaders have repeatedly threatened to destroy it.

    Avi expressed concern over Iran’s intention to Taylor:

    “What the Nazis have done, Iran are saying that they will do.”

    U.S. and European leaders reached a framework for an agreement with Iran over limiting its nuclear capabilities in exchange for the eventual lifting of economic sanctions, announced in early April.

    Shortly afterward, Iran’s supreme leader challenged the terms of the deal, saying sanctions must be lifted immediately, rather than as Iran complies with the agreement’s terms. This throws into question the ability for leader’s to arrive at a final deal by the self-imposed deadline of June 30.

    Jews of Iranian descent in Israel number 250,000 by BBC estimates.

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