Close to 400 Southern California Iranian Jews, Muslims, Bahais and Christians united at a Beverly Hills hotel on November 24th for a magical and surrealistic evening to honor Menashe Amir, the Iranian Jewish journalist and host of Radio Israel’s “Voice of Iran” Persian language news program. The event was organized by the Los Angeles based “Iranian Jewish Cultural Organization” (IJCO) as a show of appreciation to Amir for his 50 years of work in broadcasting accurate information to audiences in Iran and worldwide through his program. In addition to providing daily news to radio listeners, Amir has also taken calls from average Iranians living in Iran who struggle daily to live under repressive social and political circumstances in their country.
With the rise of the current radical totalitarian Islamic regime in Iran 30 years ago, accurate and unbiased news has been unavailable in Iran to average citizens living in the country. Amir’s daily three-hour program based in Israel is special because it has become one of the very few truly trusted resources of Persian language information for folks in Iran to rely on. State-run news programs in Iran have been chalk-full of one-sided anti-Israel and anti-American propaganda instead of fair and balanced coverage of various news stories. Likewise, Amir’s program has been an invaluable outlet for Israeli leaders to directly outreach their message of peace to the people of Iran despite the Iranian government’s pledge to wipe Israel off the map. During the event George Haroonian, a board member of the IJCO, perhaps best expressed the Iranian Jewish community’s sentiments about Amir when he said; “He (Amir) is the voice of freedom, the lone voice of hope for millions in Iran seeking knowledge about the outside world and what is going on in their country”.
With his fluency in French, English, Persian and Hebrew languages, over the decades Amir has also become one of Israel’s and the Iranian Jewish community’s most respected ambassadors of peace when tapped as a expert to discuss Iran issues for various international media outlets. Amir emigrated to Israel at the age of 20 and has developed a remarkable career in broadcast journalism which has proven to be an asset for those living in free world and seeking to reach the masses living in Iran. The outpouring of support for Amir from Southern California’s non-Jewish Iranian media personalities was remarkable at the gala event. Iranian Muslims at the event expressed their sincere admiration for Amir and his work because through his program he has been seeking to bring all of his countrymen in his former homeland together. Amir’s concurrent love for Israel and the nation of Iran are perplexing for many individuals nowadays to understand considering the regime in Iran has repeatedly declared its desire to annihilate Israel. Yet Amir’s message of tolerance and co-existence between Iranians of various faiths worldwide has really resonated with his listeners.
The mood of harmony among Iranians at the event was also prevalent through out the evening when “Hatikva” and the “Star Spangled Banner” as well as the old Iranian patriotic national song of “A-Iran” were all sung for the guests in the audience. The feeling of camaraderie among those in attendance was indeed unique because nowadays one does not come across very many communities with different religious backgrounds coming together in harmony this way. I personally believe the Iranian American community in Southern California, which members have by in large great relationships together, is an ideal example of how people with different faiths can live together with close friendships. Often times it takes special individuals like Menashe Amir to bring the Iranian American community together in such events to demonstrate their incredible harmony. From one Iranian Jewish journalist to another, I salute you Mr. Amir for your five decades of remarkable work and your exemplary representation of our community. Mazal Tov!