Expert: Declaring Iran an enemy state could be dangerous

Many Iranian expats who visit are arrested, tortured, and even prevented from returning home.

iran satellite map 298.8 (photo credit: Courtesy)
iran satellite map 298.8
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Declaring Iran an enemy state could endanger lives, according to Menashe Amir, an Iranian affairs analysts who works for Israel Radio's Persian-language service. "Such a move would mean that any Israeli traveling in Iran for sightseeing or visiting relatives could be kept there as a hostage, and this would create a very dangerous situation," he said Tuesday. Amir said there have been many cases of Iranians living abroad who traveled to Iran and were arrested, molested, tortured and prevented from returning home. The most prominent recent example, he said, was Parnaz Azima, who holds dual US and Iranian citizenship. She works for Radio Farad, a Persian-language service operated by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty that is funded by the US. When she arrived in Teheran in January, her passport was seized and she has not been let out of the country. Amir strongly advised Israelis of Iranian descent from trying to visit Iran. Such visits were rare, he said, but there have been some disturbing incidents in recent years. Amir said some Israelis had gone to the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul claiming they wanted to visit relatives or the graves of family members in Iran. Consulate officials took their Israeli documents and provided them with a laissez-passer to enter and leave Iran. Amir said he was unaware of any case of recruitment of Israeli Jews by the Iranians. But he said the Iranian authorities were very interested in what was happening in Israel. "Iran considers Israel today as their main enemy and they try to gather information about Israeli society, the military and the economy," Amir said. "It is natural that they will try to recruit not only Israeli Arabs and Palestinians, but also Jews of Iranian origin."