An Elal Boeing 777 aircraft at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Neda Amin, a Turkey-based Iranian dissident and blogger threatened with deportation to Iran for writing critically of the country’s autocratic regime, was granted an Israeli visa by the Interior Ministry on Thursday.
Amin, a 32-year-old freelance journalist who blogs for The Times of Israel’s Persian site, was greeted at Ben-Gurion Airport by the website’s founder and editor-in-chief, David Horovitz, formerly editor of The Jerusalem Post.
During a press conference at the Times of Israel
’s Jerusalem headquarters, Amin, who lived as a refugee in Turkey since 2014, thanked Horovitz and the Israeli government for expeditiously aiding her in her relocation before possibly being deported and executed.
“Turkey told me they would send me to Iran, and I was in so much danger and my life was so difficult, and eventually the State of Israel gave me this place,” she said in Persian via an interpreter. “The only country that really acted rapidly was Israel... I am also thankful to David for his help.”
Amin continued: “As opposed to all the things that are being said – especially in Iran about Israel violating human rights – I saw that Israel took steps to keep human rights, to save the life of a human being. I was saved, I was rescued. If the Israeli authorities will give me permission, I would love to live here, with all my heart and soul. If not, I will respect their decision.”
Amin added that although her paternal grandmother was Jewish, her father was considered Muslim. Still, she said she has long supported Judaism and Israel, despite numerous family members excommunicating her for her support.
“My roots are somewhat connected to Judaism,” she said. “I have loved Israel since my youth [and] never accepted all the regime’s anti-Israel slogans. I always dreamed that I will somehow get to Israel... Most of my family broke off contact with me because of my connection to Israel.”
Meanwhile, Horovitz said when he learned of her perilous situation two weeks ago, he immediately contacted government officials to intervene.
“I felt that we had an obligation – the Times of Israel
in particular, and the State of Israel in general – to help someone who is in trouble partly because of her connection with Israel,” he said.
“There was a choice: Do nothing, or see if we can save her. I don’t think I could have lived with myself if I had found out that she was on a plane back to Iran.”
Horovitz praised the Israeli government for taking quick action.
“Somebody’s life was potentially in danger, and the Israeli authorities did far beyond what would be expected [of them], in my opinion,” he said.
“They made sure that she was able to leave.”