Following spy arrest, Iranian Israelis urge gov't to ban travel to Islamic Republic

iran israeli spy 224 88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
iran israeli spy 224 88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
The recent charging of an Iranian-born Israeli citizen with spying for Teheran should prompt the Israeli government to officially ban all travel to the Islamic Republic, an umbrella organization representing the Iranian-Israeli community said on Monday. "Israel has still not banned travel to Iran and has yet to categorize Iran as an enemy state," said David Motai, spokesman for the Central Organization of Iranian Immigrants in Israel. "Israeli law permits Iranians to come here and Israelis to visit there. There are 250,000 Iranians living in Israel today with family members in Iran, and I call on them not to go there," Motai said. "By traveling to Iran, they are risking their lives and are putting Israel in a problematic situation. There's nothing for them to look for in Iran. Israel is our home." On Sunday, a 55-year-old man was charged with agreeing to cooperate with Iranian intelligence agents in the Iranian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and divulging details about Israeli security system employees. The Tel Aviv District Court agreed to a request by the district attorney to hold a trial behind closed doors. The Israel Security Service (Shin Bet) released a warning last year cautioning Israeli Iranians keen to visit family members in Iran not to enter the consulate in Istanbul to obtain travel visas. "Israeli Iranians must not allow Iran to exploit the weakness of someone who misses their family members, who they haven't seen in decades, in order to get information to damage Israel," said Motai. He described the 25,000 Jews remaining in Iran as "hostages" of the Islamic Republic. "We are shown films of them living well," he said, "but they're being used by Iran to launch verbal attacks on Israel. Iran is an ever-growing threat, but Israel will find it difficult to do something that can endanger our brothers and sisters over there." "This would be the right time to bring the remainder of the community to Israel. But it has to be done with generous immigration benefits, because the funds that Iranian Jews have won't enable them to buy a home or start a business in Israel, and they will become a socioeconomic burden on the state without the right benefits," he said. "If Israel today launched a program to bring the Jewish Iranians to the country there's no doubt that all of them would come," Motai said. Motai said he was skeptical over whether the suspect could divulge any harmful information to the Iranians. "If he is so important, why wasn't he stopped from reentering the Iranian consulate when the authorities found out about him?" He asked. "I have my doubts whether this is real espionage, but the authorities are capable of getting to the truth."