Just as a Christian group admits its scheme to offer a $10,000 stipend to new immigrants from Iran has failed, a record number of Jews arrives at Ben Gurion airport, Haaretz reports. (With thanks: Lily)
“A group of 40 new immigrants from Iran touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport on Tuesday, the largest since the fall of the Shah and Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The immigrants, from Tehran, Shiraz, and Isfahan, each received a $10,000 grant from international Jewish organizations.
Relatives screamed in delight and threw candy at the newcomers as they emerged into the airport reception hall after a long bureaucratic procedure.
Two brothers, Yosef and Michael, said they were glad to be in Israel. They declined to give their family name in order to protect relatives.
“I feel so good,” said Yosef, 16. “I just saw all of my family. You can’t put that into words.”
Michael, 15, said he told all his friends where he was going, and they wanted to come along. “I was scared in Iran as a Jew,” he said. “I would never be able to wear a skullcap in the streets there.”
Others said they felt safe in Iran, discounting warnings that Jews could become targets.
The brothers arrived with their parents and a sister and were greeted by their grandparents, whom they had not seen since the grandparents left for Israel six years ago.
“I’m in heaven,” gushed Avraham Dayan, 63, waiting for his son, daughter-in-law and grandson. He said he had not seen his 38-year-old son in 11 years, missing his son’s wedding and the birth of his grandson.
A total of 200 Iranian Jews have immigrated to Israel in 2007, compared to only 65 in 2006.
The immigrants who arrived Tuesday flew to Israel through a third country, although which country cannot be published at this time.
There are an estimated 25 to 28,000 Jews currently living in Iran. The Islamic government does grant them relative freedom of religion, although they are prevented from learning Hebrew and face certain emigration restrictions.”