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Sabra Express | A Princely Pursuit

Carrie Keller-Lynn, Times of Israel, April 19th, 2023


Recap:

Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran’s deposed monarch, met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog. He is the most senior Iranian personality to ever come on a public visit to Israel [1].


The Context:

· Under Pahlavi’s father, Iran and Israel enjoyed economic and military ties but have had no diplomatic relations since the 1979 revolution ushered the Islamic Republic to power. The regime relentlessly advocates the elimination of Israel and is a state sponsor of terror through its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah.

· Pahlavi expressed hope that Israel and Iran will return to being “strategic partners.” Based in the US, Pahlavi has tried for decades to cast himself as the key to changing the Islamic Republic from an extremist, theologically led, human rights-transgressing regime to a democratic and secular government [2].

· After protests erupted across Iran in mid-September following the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the country’s morality police, Pahlavi visited several countries and met with American & European politicians [3]. Iran's foreign ministry dismissed his visit to Israel, saying "neither the person you've mentioned, the purpose of this trip, nor the place he wants to travel to are worthy of discussion [4].”

· This week, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi threatened to level Tel Aviv and Haifa during a speech delivered during the country’s National Army Day parade that also fell on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day [5]. At Israel’s national Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony, Netanyahu linked the Nazi’s final solution to Iran’s threat to annihilate Israel by saying, “the victory of the past does not alone guarantee the victory of the future [6].” Iranian leaders are among the most vocal Holocaust deniers [7].


Conversation Points:

· How can the son of an exiled ruler gain legitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian people?

· Why is the timing of Pahlavi’s visit to Israel significant?

· Can mass strikes and protests alone bring an end to the Iranian regime?


Notes:

1. ‘Our nations can live in peace,’ son of Iran's Shah says in Israel visit, TOVAH LAZAROFF, Jerusalem Post, APRIL 17, 2023

3. Ibid.

4. ‘Our nations can live in peace,’ son of Iran's Shah says in Israel visit, TOVAH LAZAROFF, Jerusalem Post, APRIL 17, 2023

5. Iran will destroy Tel Aviv, Haifa at slightest Israeli action - Raisi, TOVAH LAZAROFF, Jerusalem Post, April 18th, 2023.

6. Ibid.

7. ‘Our nations can live in peace,’ son of Iran's Shah says in Israel visit, TOVAH LAZAROFF, Jerusalem Post, APRIL 17, 2023

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