Iranian Dissidents to Visit Israel

By Erfan FardJuly 26, 2021

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 2,105, July 26, 2021

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: At the end of July 2021, a delegation of eight Iranian opposition members will visit Israel to take part in cultural and political meetings planned by the Institute for Voices of Liberty (IVOL). These meetings could lay the basis for a future relationship between Israel and Iran after the collapse of the ayatollahs’ dictatorship.

At the end of this month, eight Iranian members of the opposition will visit Israel to participate in a cultural-political mission planned by the Institute for Voices of Liberty (IVOL). The institute’s goals are to promote democracy, human rights, and freedom in Iran after the prospective collapse of the Islamist regime. One member of the delegation said, “Together we will make history…as my fellow Iranian dissidents and former political prisoners mark a historic first with this visit to Israel in solidarity with the Jewish state and the Jewish people.”

The visit will demonstrate the Iranian opposition’s support for Israel in its constant battle with terrorist groups Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, all of which are sponsored by Iran.

The Islamic Republic’s support for terrorism, primarily driven by the IRGC, has a long history. The IRGC-Quds Force (QF) and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) are the clerical regime’s primary arms for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad. The IRGC-QF and MOIS are active in clandestine operations across the Middle East and have designed and carried out terrorist attacks in most of the world.

The Iranian regime prefers to avoid direct confrontation, opting instead to use its terrorist proxies to conduct attacks. Since the regime’s founding in 1979, it has been directly involved in setting up, funding, and facilitating the global activities of terrorist organizations including Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PKK, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Houthis, and more. Tehran also plays a major role in supporting terrorist groups in Africa and Latin America. It uses its wide array of terrorist proxies to assassinate Iranian dissidents, commit acts of violence against civilians in countries it deems enemy states, and export Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution around the globe.

During their visit, the eight Iranians will meet with representatives of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and IDF units as well as with security experts to discuss the various threats facing Israel, particularly from Hezbollah. The delegation will visit Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip and the northern border as well as Jerusalem.

While the Islamic regime is implacably antisemitic, a portion of the new generation of Iranians is open to friendly relations with Israel. Public opinion among young Iranians does not wholly coincide with the ideological propaganda of the radical Shiite theocracy.

Israel is the most powerful developed state in the region with modern technology and a modern political system. Friendship between Israel and Iran has a historical basis that has been obscured by the mullahs’ genocidal rhetoric since 1979.

The delegation to Israel will describe the reality of life under the Iranian regime and emphasize the differences between that regime and the Iranian people. They are looking for Israeli support for the new democratic movement inside Iran. One member of the movement said, “We organized this historic mission to Israel to show the solidarity of free Iranians with the people of Israel and to separate freedom-seeking people of Iran from the criminal, inept and corrupt regime that has forced itself upon them.”

Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, and new Chief Justice, Mohseni Ejei, are both hardline fundamentalist members of the Iranian regime. Their ascent will likely bring about a new wave of terrorism in the region and oppression inside Iran.

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Erfan Fard is a counterterrorism analyst and Middle East Studies researcher based in Washington, DC. Twitter: @EQFARD

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