Passover has always served as a symbol of salvation, a festival that commemorates those who want to commemorate the freedom of the Jews and to deliver salvation. For Neda Amin, a Jewish-born Iranian writer in Tehran, his holidays and themes have a special resonance.
Although she was only 34 years old, she had a series of harrowing experiences involving the trial of the Iranian Revolutionary Court, the detention and interrogation of Turkish intelligence officers, and the avoidance of her deportation to the clutches of ayatollah.
As a journalist who criticized the Iranian regime, he was forced to flee Iran in 2014 and lived for three years has led to neighboring Turkey, eventually came to Israel at the end 2017’n the beloved dog.
Due to a visa in his hand, he is not allowed to enter a formal transformation into his work or Judaism and finds himself in a bureaucratic variation.
In an interview with the magazine, he described an unusual and often painful journey; it combined stability and fearlessness in the face of an almost insurmountable possibility.
I understand that your grandmother is a Polish Jew who escaped from the Nazis. How did he get to Iran?
I was born in Tehran in 1984 and grew up under the ayatollahs in a half-Jewish, half-Muslim family.
My mother is Muslim, but she is not religious and does not believe in anything.
My father was Jewish, and his mother, my grandmother, was a Holocaust survivor from Poland. 1000 Polish Jewish children who fled from the Germans to the Soviet Union were one of the children of Tehran and then went to Iran. My grandmother was 14 years old and was sent to the orphanage in Iran. An Iranian Jewish couple adopted her and grew up with them. Originally from Warsaw, he was buried in the Ashkenazi Jewish Cemetery in Tehran.
We were raised as Jews in Iran because it was decided by the father in Islam and my father was Jewish. My grandmother was religious, prayed three times a day, and sometimes we would celebrate the Passover and Rosh Hashanah, and I learned Jewish culture and grew up with her.
Did you experience growing antisemitism in Iran?
I had a problem at school. As a child, I didn’t have a lot of friends and I remembered that many of the other children called me a dirty Jew. Not all people in Iran, there are some people who believe that there are Jews and the Bahamas. dirty. So when I first married in Iran, my ex-husband was Baha; therefore it was considered ”double dirty.
At what point did the Iranian authorities have problems?
I went to university in Tehran, where I studied music and Persian literature and translated from Spanish to Persian. I started writing books and talking about human rights and animal rights.
When I was 17, three men from the Basij militia, part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, detained me and raped the gang because of activism. They put me in a cell in the police station and beat me badly, you didn’t recognize my face. I remember they took me out of my hair and hit me on the wall. As a result, the right side of my face does not work fully even today.
I was arrested a few times after that; when I published my second and third books, I was arrested again and tried before a Revolutionary Court. They were seven years and seven months imprisoned. I was scared because I knew they would hurt me, beat me and rape me. I knew that because I had experienced it before. So I decided I had to run away from Iran.
How did you manage that?
My alleged crime was not a crime, it was political. I just wanted to help people and animals, so I wrote about protecting their rights.
However, my lawyer told me that after knowing the court’s decision and staying in Iran, I would face more than seven years in prison, and I knew I had to leave.
I was advised to leave the country by train or bus rather than by plane because there was less security. I was told that 50% of my chances of stopping or being arrested were trying to escape. So I decided to do it.
Where did you go?
I went to Turkey because of my mother. Turkey is a democratic country and my book will be able to visit Turkey, Iran said that I could see my mother and I could write there. He came to visit me, and I continued to work and I’ve had more than three years in Turkey.
While there, I learned to hate the Turkish government and did not want to stay there. I hate dictatorship and did not know that Turkey is not really democratic. I began writing about Israel, Israel wrote Times Times website in Persian.
What problems did you encounter in Turkey?
At a certain point, Turkey has decided they want to deport me and they threatened to send me back to Iran. They had a problem working as a journalist and writing that I was writing for the Times of Israel, and they said I was an Israeli spy.
The Turkish intelligence service called MIT to question me several times. They asked me why I was working with an Israeli news agency. I told them that I love Israel very much, I’m a writer and a journalist and it’s my job.
The intelligence officers told me Israel killed all our brothers. I told them that it wasn’t right and they shouldn’t think about it.
Then they asked me why I supported Israel, and I told them that it was because I was Jewish, that Israel was my land, and that I liked it because I was a Zionist.
The MIT officer called me “dirty Jew” and brought me back to my childhood memories when other children called me.
What happened then?
Finally, after calling me six times to inquire, the Turkish intelligence officers told me I had to work for them and said if I hadn’t worked for Israel, they would pay me. They said We cannot allow you to work for Israel in our country. “
I asked them if they were legal and they said that if it was legal to work for Israel, they didn’t like it and I had to stop.
Then he said to them, “Thank you very much. I thought you were a democratic country, but you’re the same as the Iranian regime. ”
Then they threatened to drive me to Iran. I told them they couldn’t do it because I got political refugee status from the United Nations, but they said they didn’t care and could do what they wanted.
My Iranian passport will expire in two months and I don’t know what to do. That’s why I went to the UN office. I went to the Consulates of Europe and the US, British, German, Swedish, Norwegian [Consular] and others. They all said the same thing: Your problem is linked to Israel; We can’t help you, so go to Israel.
You must be so scared. What did you do?
I was worried and confused because at this point my passport ended in only a month, and I wrote what was happening on my Facebook page. I knew I would end if I was sent back to Iran.
Then my friends, Rachel Avraham as many countries, friends and journalists ask me. They wrote about me and created awareness about my situation.
I spoke with Hillel Neuer at UN Watch. Along with his colleague, Dan Smith was very helpful. They contacted the Israeli government; and also, David Horovitz, editor of Times of Israel, called me and asked for my status and said he would find a way to help. [The Jerusalem Journalists Association also helped.]
On August 6, 2017, when David called me, he told me to go to the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul to pick up my visa. I was shocked and asked how it was possible because I didn’t have the right documents to prove that I am Jewish. David said it wasn’t necessary, everything was set. I just gotta get there and he gets me a ticket.
I was in a city called Eskişehir between Istanbul and Ankara and I was driving seven hours from Istanbul. I left immediately and arrived at the Israeli consulate at 11:00. They were very kind to me. David Horovitz bought me a ticket and e-mailed it to me and told me I had to come to Israel.
But that wasn’t the end of the story, was it?
No. I was stopped by the police at the Turkish airport and said that I could not leave the country. They said that they were not allowed to go and I had to check them.
That’s why I had to go back to Eskisehir. I went to the police there and showed them that I received an Israeli visa, so they should look at their high schools in Ankara and I have to come back tomorrow.
The next day, when I got back, they said the computer system was off, so I had to come back the next day. I went to the police station three times and they wasted my time.
I didn’t know what to do, so I called the Israeli Consulate. There was a lady there and I told her what happened. He said he’d look into it. Three days later he called and told me that I had to go to the police station to sign the police station and then I could leave. I have no idea what he did and how he did it, but it worked and I came to Israel.
What do the Iranian people think about ayatollahs?
Certainly, at least 70% of Iranians hate the Iranian regime and demand regime change. In the past 10 years, we have seen various demonstrations in Iran, but they have all been suppressed.
How does it feel to be in Israel? Are you happy here
I feel like I’m home … and I love Jerusalem. I don’t want to go to another city; When I get out of Jerusalem, it drives me crazy because I want to go back to Jerusalem.
But I have a lot of problems because I want to work and need it, but my visa doesn’t let me do that. I want to read Hebrew but I don’t have any money, bills, insurance – all paid by a friend; If it wasn’t for him, I’d live on the street.
I want to go to Judaism … but I can’t do this because of the type of visa I have. I applied for Aliya, but they give me a lot of problems because they only have copies of documents proving my father is Jewish. I can’t get the original documents, because they’re in Iran …
But I love Israel and I’m still glad I’m here because I know it’s going to be all right.