For the past decade, I’ve covered authoritarian regimes like China, Russia and Iran as both a journalist and an activist on my own social media platforms, in particular as it pertains to women’s rights.
It is no surprise therefore, that when protests erupted nationwide in Iran, I began speaking out across my social media platforms about the plight of the Iranian people and echoing their demands for regime change.
The fact that I am an American-Israeli makes me uniquely situated to deeply understand the reality of two worlds: the optimism and idealism of the West, and the harsh reality check of the Middle East. It is precisely for this reason, I believe, that the Islamic Republic has been targeting me directly with threats and attempts to silence me. I won’t let them.
As a feminist, an Israeli, an American, and a journalist, I am the epitome of everything the Islamic Republic despises and wants to destroy. Even more problematic for them, their own people are standing with me, not them – because I am speaking up for the people of Iran globally, and the Islamic regime is doing the opposite.
Over the past six months, I’ve amassed a following of over 70,000 Iranians inside Iran, and thousands more in the Iranian diaspora as well. These Iranians are coming from all communities – religious, secular, Persian, Balochi, Kurdish, Baha’i and from a wide variety of political viewpoints. This has enabled me to have a unique insight as to what the people of Iran are looking for internally and externally.
For 44 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has ruled over its population with an iron fist and a brutal theocratic and bloody agenda. But this generation, after the killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, had finally had enough. I began speaking out because I know too well that the consequences for so many Iranians inside and outside of Iran can be deadly, and I owe it to those brave women, to be their voice when the Islamic Republic silences them.
Almost immediately, my activism was met with opposition from regime supporters, including the Islamic regime’s cyber army. I received numerous hacking and phishing attempts, I was contacted by “academics” inviting me to conferences that didn’t exist in Europe, and other bizarre phenomena.
On social media, my first video about the Iranian uprising, with nearly 3 million views, was spontaneously removed from Instagram despite the fact there was no violation – a phenomenon that also occurred with many Iranian celebrities posting anti-regime content.
As it turned out, the regime had been paying off social media content moderators behind the scenes to remove content and even deactivate accounts in some cases. I spoke out about this outrageous violation of my free speech and continued to build connections with the people of Iran, reaching over 30 million people in October 2022 alone.
Since then, I’ve spoken out through social media to both the West and the people of Iran about what was happening on the ground – from strikes to military threats to executions to foreign lobbying mouthpieces of the Islamic Republic, such as the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and the cowardice of the West in facing the reality of what the Islamic Republic really is.
When I exposed the organization NIAC, whose activists and leaders such as Trita Parsi and Jamal Abdi have parroted the same talking points as the Islamic Republic itself for years in their policy positions, my video received millions of views. Then the online smear campaigns began and I began to receive death threats.
Not only did Parsi, Abdi, and other NIAC affiliates immediately jump on the antisemitic bandwagon – insinuating conspiracy theories that I am acting on behalf of the Jewish state – but I also received hundreds of messages from inauthentic accounts with the flag of the Islamic republic or photos of regime officials, pledging to destroy Israel, “bomb” my house in Tel Aviv, as well as a variety of sexual threats.
Shortly thereafter, along with leaders in the Persian-Israel community, I organized the solidarity protest for the Iranian people in Tel Aviv. I participated in and spoke at rallies around the world, and I began working with Iranian-American Hooman Khalili to produce murals of support for the Iranian people across Israeli cities – a symbolic and powerful display of solidarity from historic allies.
Yet with everything happening, and the West still discussing a return to negotiations for a nuclear agreement, in early 2023 I began more aggressively meeting with elected officials from around the world to push for the IRGC to be recognized as a terrorist organization. Since December, I have discussed Iran policy with lawmakers in the US, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, the Netherlands, Australia, the UK and more. I will continue until the West has recognized the Islamic republic for what it really is – but the threat from the regime is also increasing against me.
In the last month, the regime’s newspaper has written about me repeatedly, accusing me of being a “Mossad spy” who is trying to “unite the Iranian people.” I have also been receiving messages and posts of my photos with targets on my face from bot accounts. Some of the threats were even in Hebrew – another known tactic of the Iranian cyber army.
I am aware that I am one of the most prominent Israeli voices, working to build bridges between the Persian community and Israel. For 44 years, the people of Israel have been cut off from our natural allies in Iran – the people. The same people we had thriving relations with before the 1979 Islamic Revolution when Iran was taken over by a theocratic, misogynist dictatorship.
The community I have built with Iranians in Iran proves that the mission of the Islamic regime to indoctrinate their people with hatred against Israel has failed – and that’s the real reason that the regime can’t stand me. I stand proud of who I am as an Israeli, as an American, as a feminist, and as an ally of the Iranian people who are rising up against the regime. There is no amount of bullying from the Islamic Republic that will silence me.
First published: 09:52, 03.19.23