Israeli radio transmits Farsi message of peace to Iran

jerusalem  |  While Israeli leaders increasingly are sounding belligerent warnings of a potential military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations, a group of Israelis of Iranian descent are transmitting a different message.

Radio Radisin, a private Farsi-language station based in Tel Aviv, airs Iranian music, poetry and current affairs shows aiming to spread peace between the Israeli and Iranian people — regardless of who is in power in Tehran.

“We, the people in Israel, are a peaceful nation and not an enemy, or the ‘little Satan’ as we are described by the Iranian regime,” said Shay Amir, the station’s 42-year-old CEO, who left Iran for Israel after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. “For 32 years, the regime has poisoned its people against Israel. We are here to tell the truth.”

Before the revolution, Israel and Iran were close allies. Today some 100,000 Jews of Iranian descent live in Israel, many with fond memories and strong ties to friends and relatives in their homeland. An estimated 25,000 Jews live in Iran, the largest Jewish population in a Muslim country.

Israeli broadcasters for Radio Radisin, a private Farsi-language radio station based in Tel Aviv, on Feb. 5. photo/ap/dan balilty

But now Israel considers Iran its most dangerous foe because of the Islamic Republic’s support of Palestinian militant groups, its repeated threats to destroy the Jewish state and its nuclear program.

Israel, like the West, believes Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear research program is for peaceful purposes only.

Radisin broadcasts 24 hours a day via the Internet, satellite and cable TV. It says 100,000 listeners tune in daily, including an undisclosed number from Iran, where the Internet is slow and many sites, including those of political opposition groups, are blocked.

It’s not the only Israeli media directed toward Iran. Israel’s state-run radio station has been broadcasting in Farsi for 50 years from a spartan studio off a narrow Jerusalem alleyway. It chats with Iranians as well — via a switchboard in Germany to get around a ban on calls from Iran to the Jewish state. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has even named the “Zionist broadcast” as among those behind civilian unrest in his country.

Radisin relies mainly on anonymous sponsors and donations and it airs some commercials. It takes calls from Iranian listeners who often criticize the regime in Tehran and express affection for Israel.

Others in Iran have been less enamored with the Israeli broadcast.

“Twice from Iran, they hacked our website and caused damage, and because of this we decided to switch and air via satellite,” said Amir.