Caught between an oppressive regime and the raging coronavirus pandemic, Israel’s Foreign Ministry says thousands of Iranians are requesting help to escape to Israel.
“Thousands of people are asking to come to Israel for medical assistance or to emigrate,” Yiftah Curiel, head of Digital Diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry, told the Jerusalem Post.
“Sometimes the messages are from people who have been forced to flee and are refugees in other countries, or people who had to flee after expressing solidarity with Israel,” Curiel said.
One message from a 31-year-old Iranian told the ministry, “I escaped Iran because of the corrupt regime. I asked for asylum in Turkey, and my wife and 4-year-old daughter and I are in unliveable conditions; there is no one who can help. We have been abandoned and our lives are in danger.”
A message from a man claiming to be a Jewish soldier in the Iranian army said being Jewish was a “political and religious crime, I have to flee Iran. Please direct me how to receive asylum in Israel? Please answer me. My life is in danger and I cannot stay in Iran.”
The ministry’s Persian social media program is run by Sharona Avginsaz, who made aliyah from Iran in 1988. Its Twitter account has 220,000 followers and there are almost half a million on Instagram. The number of requests has overwhelmed the department.
Most Iranians “see Israel as a modern, progressive, democratic country, and that is one of the reasons for this wave of messages to our pages,” Avginsaz said, adding that Iranians these days are more aware because of the internet and those who contact her know that Iran’s anti-Israel propaganda is a lie.