The number of Iranians asking Israel for help has spiked in recent months, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

“Thousands of people are asking to come to Israel for medical assistance or to emigrate,” according to Yiftah Curiel, head of Digital Diplomacy at the Foreign Ministry.

The requests have arrived mostly through private messages on the Foreign Ministry’s social media accounts in Persian, as well as from e-mails. Some have been made openly, in public comments on social media, but by accounts using pseudonyms.
Curiel said many of the messages are serious asylum requests.

“Sometimes they 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,” he stated.

One of the messages they received was from a 31-year-old man who said he “had to escape Iran because of the corrupt regime. I asked for asylum in Turkey, and my wife and 4-year-old daughter and I are in unlivable conditions; there is no one who can help. We have been abandoned and our lives are in danger.”

Another is from a soldier in the Iranian army who said he is Jewish: “Because of my 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.”

Sharona Avginsaz, who runs the Foreign Ministry’s Persian social media accounts, told Channel 20 that the Iranians sending messages “see Israel as a modern, progressive, democratic country, and that is one of the reasons for this wave of messages to our pages.”

Avginsaz moved to Israel from Iran in 1988, and said she thinks Iranians see Israel much differently than they did then, when they could only hear about Israel from official regime propaganda channels.

“Today, there is the Internet and our platforms, and more awareness,” she said. “These messages prove the Iranians see that anti-Israel propaganda is a lie.”

She used to answer every message the Persian accounts received, but now there are too many to respond to all of them.
“I try to answer as many as I can… but we don’t really have the ability to help them. I try to answer positively and wish them luck,” she said.

The Foreign Ministry’s Persian accounts are among their most successful, with a higher rate of engagement than some of their English channels, Curiel said.

“We have a very receptive audience,” he said. “There are lots of Iranians in Iran and in the Diaspora that support Israel, reject the regime and want to see a different future between the two countries.”

The Foreign Ministry has accounts on five social media platforms at its Jerusalem headquarters – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and YouTube – in English, Hebrew, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Persian. The Persian Twitter account has 220,000 followers and there are almost 500,000 on Instagram.

Posts on the popular Instagram account vary, from announcing the opening of beaches in Israel this week to recommending The Spy, the Netflix series about Israeli agent in Syria Eli Cohen.

Source » jpost

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