Nearly 200 young local Iranian Jews from the “30 Years After” organization gathered at the Parlor sports bar in Santa Monica on November 4th to mingle and watch the results of the 2008 Presidential election. While a substantial segment of Southern California Iranian Jews were supporting Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, some younger members of the community backed Democratic nominee Barack Obama and this was evident during some cheering that occurred at the announcement of Obama’s victory during the night’s television newscasts. Those in attendance enjoyed drinks while talking politics and the direction of the new Obama administration visa vie Iran and Israel.
During the past year many L.A. area Jews and non-Jews have asked me why Iranian Jews were so vehemently opposed to Obama—but this assessment is not accurate. For the most part, through my reporting I found that a large segment of L.A.‘s Iranian Jews were turned off by Obama’s calls for direct negotiations with Iran’s current radical Islamic regime without any pre-conditions. As a result many backed McCain who encouraged a tougher stance on the Iranian government. Nevertheless there were and still are many younger Iranian Jews who support Obama because of his stances on a whole host of domestic issues—including the economy. While there was no massive jubilation at the election watch party for Obama, young Iranian Jews in attendance were upbeat that the new president-elect would maintain strong ties with Israel and closer alliances with his Jewish advisers.
During the past year, “30 Years After” board members have organized various events to increase Iranian Jewish participation and education in the political process and said they were pleased with the turnout at their election night event. “Regardless of one’s political affiliation, no one can deny that this election represents a historic moment for our country and reminds us that our democracy is our most treasured asset,” said Jon Yagoubzadeh, a 30 Years After board member. “By hosting an Election Watch event, we wanted to provide our community the opportunity to witness this moment together and to discuss the outcome of the election”. Other 30 Years After organizers said they were planning post-election informational seminars on the expected directions and policies of the new Obama administration. Again I applaud their efforts in trying to mobilize the local Iranian Jewish community which has traditionally stayed away from politics as Iranian Jews were prohibited from being politically active in Iran for centuries. Who knows, may be one day soon we may even have Iranian Jews running for state and congressional offices?
Here are some sights I captured from 30 Years After election watch event…