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Young Persian Jews cool, not cold, on Obama

by Rob Eshman

November 6, 2012 | 11:47 pm

Michael Yadegaran, vice president of 30 Years After, at the election evening party. Photo by Rob Eshman

Michael Yadegaran, vice president of 30 Years After, at the election evening party. Photo by Rob Eshman

When the networks projected President Barack Obama’s re-election victory Tuesday night, most of the young, partying crowd at The Parlor bar in West Hollywood erupted in raucous cheers.  Except for one section.

There, a crowd of more than 100 young Persian American Jews remained mostly quiet—at least three-quarters of them had clearly been hoping for victory for Gov. Mitt Romney.

“I think Obama will be spineless when it gets to dealing with Ahmadinejad,” said Michael Hiller, a thirty-something Persian American Jew, echoing a primary reason so many of his friends and family had voted for the Republican. “Romney’s better for Israel.”

Just a few cheers punctuated the silence.

“Maybe there’s 10 of us,” Sam Yebri, founder of 30 Years After, shouted over the din.  He meant Obama backers.

But the quiet that overtook the lively crowd as a bank of giant TV screens announced state after state for Obama didn’t tell the whole story.

When CNN reported victories for a Colorado initiative legalizing marijuana use, the group erupted in applause.  They did so again when Maryland’s initiative for gay marriage passed.

Young Persian Jews, said 30 Years After executive director Tabby Davoodi, lean conservative on economics and foreign policy, but are socially liberal.

But their alliances are more fluid than they seem, or sound.

“I voted for McCain in 2008 and Obama today,” said Michael Yadegaran, a vice president of the group. “I realized Republicans were using Israel as a partisan issue.

Navid Soleymani also switched to Obama.

The 38-year-old lawyer said Sen. Mitch McConnell’s declaration that his job was to unseat the President “put politics above country.”

“To me it’s not about Romney,” Soleymani said. “It’s about the Republican brand that’s been damaged.

“The most important thing,” said Sanaz Meshkinfan, 29, “is 30 years after their parents came from Iran, this generation of Iranian Americans is engaged in civic duty.”

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