for a Free and Democratic IRAN
January and February 2012
Chair: Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Director- General, Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs. Discussants: Dr. Josef Joffe, Publisher-Editor, Die Zeit, Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Marc & Anita Abramowitz Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Mr. Robert McNally, President, Rapidan Group, Mr. Ash Jain, Visiting Fellow, Washington, Institute for Near East Policy, Dr. Oded Brosh, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Policy and Strategy, IDC Herzliya, Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Dr. Jean-Loup Samaan, Faculty Adviser, NATO, Defense College (NDC), Mr. Amir Abbas Fakhravar, President of Iranian Freedom Institute, Dr. James Woolsey, Former CIA Director, Dr. Irwin Cotler, Member of Parliament; Former Canadian Justice Minister, Robert Zoellick, World Bank President, Ambassador Uri Lubrani, Israel's former ambassador to Iran and current Iran Advisor to Israel's Deputy Prime Minister.
Jerusalem Post: 'Help Iranian people separate from ‘fanatic’ government. January 31, 2012By Lahav Harkov
Iranian dissident Amir Abbas Fakhraver tells Knesset members the Iranian people are not like their government. Iranian dissident Amir Abbas Fakhravar visited the Knesset on Tuesday to meet with MK Shai Hermesh (Kadima) to call on the world to help the Iranian people. “It is a great opportunity to visit the center of democracy in the only democracy in the Middle East,” Fakhravar, founder of the Confederation of Iranian Students (CIS), said. CIS, describes itself as a pro-Western independent student movement, with more than 8,000 members in countries across the world. Fakhravar has been in Israel since last week, and also visited opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima). The dissident discussed the undemocratic practices of his home country, saying that elections in Iran are “totally for show,” and that the parliament in Tehran does not represent the people. Although it took time for the world to realize that Iran is a threat, Fakhravar explained, it has been an issue for the Iranian people who do not support “the small group of fanatic mullahs ruling the country,” for decades. Fakhravar, who now lives in the US, said the main message he seeks to relay when meeting with government officials is that the Iranian people are not like the Iranian government.
Unlike the leadership in Iran, which calls the US the “Great Satan” and Israel the “Little Satan,” most Iranian people love the US, according to Fakhravar. He also said that he would like to have closer ties with Israel, where he could spread his campaign to help the people of Iran. Fakhravar cited biblical examples of the ties between Jewish people and Persians, such as Esther, the Jewish queen of Persia, and Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jewish people to return from exile to Israel and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. “Don’t offer to rebuild the temple – there’s a limit,” Hermesh quipped. He assured Fakhravar that nearly everyone in the Knesset – from the far right to the extreme left – supports his cause. “The six million Jews in Israel are behind you,” Hermesh said. The Kadima MK said he is certain there are secret ties between Israel and the opposition within Iran, but that as a Knesset member in the opposition he has no way of knowing. Hermesh also discussed sanctions on Tehran, saying they are helpful, but insufficient in stopping the Iranian nuclear threat. He criticized the fact that European sanctions on oil will not begin until June, and explained that on a recent visit to Brussels, he was told that the reason is so gas prices do not spike during the cold winter. Following the meeting, White, an Israeli film inspired by Fakhravar’s experiences in Iranian prison, was screened. Fakhravar spent five years in Iranian prison after participating in July 1999 student riots, where he was subjected to “white torture,” which involves extreme sensory deprivation and isolation.
Visiting Iranian student Amir Abbas Fakhravar: Attack will bring ayatollahs, allies, public legitimacy. An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be a blessing for the ayatollahs and would permanently silence the opposition to the Islamic Republic, a visiting Iranian dissident told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “An attack would be a blessing for the Islamic Republic, a gift from God for them because then they could use this type of attack to play the victim around the world,” said Amir Abbas Fakhravar of the Confederation of Iranian Students (CIS). Fakhravar added that an Israeli attack would not bring about a regime change in Tehran, and instead would bring Iran new sympathetic allies and would give it legitimacy in the eyes of the public it lost after the contested 2009 presidential elections. “After 2009 and the [pro-democracy] Green Movement they lost their legitimacy in the country. It’s not hard to regain this legitimacy after an Israeli attack,” Fakhravar said. He added that for a regime devoted to paranoid conspiracies blaming Israel for all of its peoples’ hardships, an Israeli attack would be all the proof that Tehran needs to focus the eyes of the public on Israel, effectively silencing dissent within Iran.
On Sunday, they toured Jerusalem, Bethlehem and a number of other historical sites. Fakhravar said he interviewed Israelis he met for a weekly TV show he produces, to show Iranians “that Israelis are normal human beings, lovely people, and to show that we should have relations with them.” Kasraie said she has been intrigued by Israel so far, and said, “I came to this country because I wanted to help bridge the gap and build bridges between people.” She also said that in Iran the state-run media has spent years “brainwashing the people to believe that Israel is such a monster and these days, everything the government has made forbidden the Iranian people want to question why. So I think our visit is important in helping break that taboo.” When asked what she thinks about an Israeli military strike on Iran, Kasraie did not mince words. “We want to make the message very clear that a military attack will not help the opposition get rid of the mullahs,” she said. “There’s a much cheaper alternative to war, to that kind of military interaction, and that is an oil embargo, which would just take some brave world leaders standing up to say, ‘Don’t buy Iranian oil.’”