I felt like in Tehran while I was visiting Israel
They visited Israel's border areas with Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and Syria.25 Juli 2021 11:51
Ahmad Batabi, one of eight Iranian dissidents who visited Israel during 20-22 July 2021. (Ahmad Batabi for Albalad.co)
For three days, 20-22 July, eight Iranian dissidents visited Israel, a country that should be destroyed according to Mullah's regime in Iran. The entourage accompanied by four former US officials during President Donald Trump era.
Those Iranians can travel freely to Israel because they live in the US and this is the first Iranian delegation visit to Israel. One of the participants is Ahmad Batabi.
He was so delighted could be part of the delegation visited Iran. He wishes he can travel to that country again. "Because when I am there, it looks I am in Tehran. But an Tehran, without a demonic regime in the name of the Islamic Republic," said Ahmad Batabi in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp yesterday.
How is your impression after visiting Israel?
As an Iranian born after the revolution 1979 in Iran and released under the Islamic Republic Jewish hate propaganda, this trip was unbelievable. I learned about the history of Israel directly and from first-hand sources and enjoyed the hospitality of the Israel nation.
Also, I had this chance to deliver the peace and love message of the Iranian group to the Israeli people.
From many places you have visited, which one made you so impressed?
All of those. David city, Jerusalem, Golan heights, Lebanon border, etc. Because we know these places from media which most of them have political angle. Now we see there directly.
Are all Iranian delegates are muslims?
Muslim, atheist and Jewish.
How many are muslims including you? Did they take a chance to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque?
To be honest, I do not know. Because that moment, I was busy with interviewing with media. I did not see who was there.
Whose idea and who did arrange this visit to Israel?
A non-profit organisation in the US, the name is Institute for Voice of Liberty (IVoL). A part of this organisation are Iranian-Americans.
So, the idea from Sam Kermanian, director of IVoL?
No, the Idea was for all people who think there is no reason Iran and Israel fight with each other. Sam was one of the organizers who was responsible for setting up the trip.
Why in the delegation there was four former Trump era officials?
First of all, they are personally our friends. Second, they worked on Israeli and other nations' relationships before and have experience with that. Also, some of them, such as Ellie Cohanim, are Iranian-Americans who, like us, believe Iranians and Israelis can be friends. She is one of us.
Is there any selection process for Iranians to be part of the delegation or you requested voluntarily?
We volunteered. Of course, we offered it to some people, but they could not come with us due to personal problems.
Can we conclude this is the first Iranian delegation visited Israel?
Yes. We are the first group of non-Jewish Iranians to face the dangers posed by the Iranian government to our families in Iran or abroad and us. We volunteered to go to Israel to send them the message of peace and friendship.
How did Israelis' view when they know there were Iranians coming to Israel?
They were so kind and we got excited for their hospitality.
Where was the delegation stay?
Why not in Jerusalem?
I do not know.
Who did arrange to visit three border areas with Gaza, Libanon, and Syria (Golan Heights)?
I do not know.
What was your feeling while you were visiting those three borders? Do you symphatize with Israelis who live there?
They were happy there that time we visited them. I hope both side of the border be happy and live next to each others in peace.
Do you think such visit to Israel by Iranian dissidents will be organized regularly?
I don't know. We went there by your decision, If others wants go there, I think there is no any problem.
Who was the highest Israeli official met with the delegation?
Israeli Foreign Ministry officials.
Is there any special message conveyed by Israeli Foreign Ministry officials to the delegation?
Trying to make a friendship bridge between two nations.
Do you have any plan to visit Israel again privately?
I wish. Because when I am there, it looks I am in Tehran. But an Tehran, without a demonic regime in the name of the Islamic Republic.
Did you meet with Iranian Jews there?
What did they tell you about life in Israel as Iranian Jews?
Although they are Iranian yet, but they are so happy there. They say Iran is our mother and Israel is our father.