For the first time a delegation of Iranian dissidents has visited Israel. During their visit they were welcomed to an IDF base on the Lebanese border where they declared: “The Iranian people love Israel. The Iranian regime glorifies death and IDF soldiers value life.”
“As someone who grew up in Iran, I was raised to hate Israel and its army,” their spokesman said, “but when I visited an IDF base, I met real Israeli soldiers who treated me like a family member. It made me shed a tear. These young men and women soldiers appreciate life unlike the Islamic Republic, which glorifies death.”
The speaker is Ahmad Batebi, an Iranian political activist and journalist who served 15 years in prison in Iran as a political prisoner and was sentenced to death for opposing the regime of the aytollahs. Born in the city of Shiraz, Batebi was one of the leaders of the 1999 student protests against the regime that shook the country and was violently suppressed. As a result of leading the demonstrations, he was arrested and sentenced to death. A photo of Batebi’s wearing the bloody shirt of another demonstrator was published all over the world and became a symbol of protest. In the end, Batebi managed to escape from the Iranian prison and receive asylum in the US. He is currently wanted in Iran, dead or alive.
Batebi made his first visit to Israel as part of a delegation of six Iranian Muslim expats and dissidents who traveled from the United States as part of a joint initiative by the Iranian Jewish Federation of New York, the Friends of the IDF in the United States (FIDF), and the Institute for Voices of Liberty.
The delegation toured Israel and visited an IDF base on the Lebanese border. They also visited Lebanon and Hezbollah positions, and were briefed by IDF commanders in the region.
Among the delegation members was Foad Pashai, general secretary of Iran’s Constitution Party; Khosrow Beitollahi, a former pilot in the Iranian air force and a senior adviser to the Iranian Constitution Party; and Dr. Amir Hamidi, director of the Institute for Voices of Liberty.
Batebi added: “The Israeli soldiers told me that while the Iranian regime wanted to harm Israel, they knew it did not represent the Iranian people. They asked me to send a message to all Iranians that they have great respect for the Iranian people and the rich Iranian culture. I really hope that one day the Iranian people will be able to visit Israel and they will be able to see the truth with their own eyes. We love you. Distinguish between us and our demonic regime. We have nothing against you.”
For more on this historic visit, see: Delegation of Iranians and Former Trump Officials Visits Israel