Ahmadinejad, another victory
Photo: Reuters
Leading rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi
Photo: AP
Photo: Michal Rosh Ben-Ami, Tel Aviv University
Professor David Menashri, Center for Iranian Studies
Photo: Michal Rosh Ben-Ami, Tel Aviv University
David Mutai, spokesman of Iranian Immigrant in Israel
Photo: Yossi Mutai

Experts: Iran's Jews to vote for Ahmadinejad

He's denied the Holocaust a number of times, and continues to threaten Israel, but the majority of Iran's 25,000 Jews are still expected to support the current president in Friday's elections. 'They want to be on the winning side,' experts explain

Voting stations throughout Iran will open Friday morning, and 46 million citizens will be casting their votes for their next president.


Several thousand of these eligible voters belong to the Jewish community within the Islamic State, and, contrary to what some may believe, experts estimate that most of these Jews will actually be casting a ballot with current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's name on it.


This, is spite of the fact that he has denied the Holocaust on a number of occasions, threatened the destruction of Israel and continues to move forward with his nuclear ambitions.


There are currently some 25,000 Jews living in Iran, and most of the eligible voters from this community are expected to show up and vote in the country's elections in which Ahmadinejad will be running against prominent reformist rival Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karoubi and Mohsen Rezai.


"They are leaning towards leaving Ahmadinejad in his post because Mousavi is unpredictable," David Mutai, Spokesman of the Central Organization of Iranian Immigrants in Israel told Ynet.


'Vote for the lesser evil'

"This is a vote for the lesser evil. In the past four years the president has mainly inflamed the internal public and infuriated the nations of the world. They feel that they know him and know what he is made of, the fear is of the unknown Mousavi, and the concern is that, instead of talk, he may take action."


Besides their support, Mutai stressed that "ever since the revolution, the Jewish community has tried very hard not to publicly intervene in election propaganda and to keep clear of the political establishment, since the race between the four candidates has entered a circle of actual physical violence and street fights between supporters of Ahmadinejad and Mousavi. They do not participate in support rallies and certainly do not organize any."


Professor David Menashri, Director of Tel Aviv University's Center for Iranian Studies said he also believed that the Jewish votes in Iran are reserved for Ahmadinejad. "The Jews in Iran usually follow the ruling stream in everything to do with internal political power struggles and keep a low profile. They will stay quiet and immediately support whoever wins," he said.


Speaking of the general situation, Menashri said, "The ruler today is Khamenei, who is more supportive of Ahmadinejad. Even though he doesn't say it explicitly, any criticism against the president is directed at Khamenei".


'Jews plan to ensure they are on winning side'

Regarding the Mousavi option, Menashri said he believe the leading rival "is not as extreme as people think. While he was a very radical prime minister, he has undergone a maturity process over the years and now represents a more moderate line of revolution".


The professor cynically added that "four years of Ahmadinejad's presidency has made all the Iranian extremists more moderate compared to him".


Meir Ezri, who served as Israel's ambassador to Tehran until 1975, recalls the election process in the county during a completely different era. According to Ezri, during parliamentary elections, heads of the Jewish community were invited to a meeting with the leadership during which they received a "recommendation" of who to vote for.


So far, as far as Ezri knows, no similar process took place with the current presidential candidates. The former ambassador believes the Iranian Jews will split their votes between the two leading candidates.


"The votes are allegedly secret, but in hindsight are not so secret. So the Jews plan to ensure they are on the winning side. In any case, they have no problem supporting whoever is elected," Ezri said.


פרסום ראשון: 06.10.09, 14:42
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