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A Jewish journalist from Tehran: Iranians have no problem with Israel

Larry Cohler-Esses was the first journalist from a pro-Israeli Jewish publication to be granted a journalist’s visa since 1979

Published: Updated:

An American journalist who works for a Jewish pro-Israel newspaper said that Iranians have no problem with Israel in contrast to what is known.

Managing Editor for news at the Forward, a national US newspaper, Larry Cohler-Esses said that he is the first journalist from a pro-Israeli Jewish publication to be granted a journalist’s visa since 1979, he wrote.

While Cohler-Esses was in the country, he said he heard “high-placed dissent” against the country’s official policy against Israel. “Far from the stereotype of a fascist Islamic state, I found a dynamic push-and-pull between a theocratic government and its often reluctant and resisting people,” he said.

The journalist had tried to obtain a journalist visa to Iran many times over the years. He had lived in Iran for a few years before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when he worked as an English teacher.

But once the seven-day visa was granted, Eisner said, the newspaper was eager to report on issues divisive in the Jewish community – like the impact of the July 14 nuclear agreement and what Iran’s present and future role in the Middle East would be like.

“I truly did not know what he would find – he did not know what he would find,” she said. “That’s why we’re journalists, not to do reporting to confirm our suspicions, but to do reporting that enlightens us, wherever it falls.”

In an editorial published on the Forward, Cohler-Esses wrote that while there is widespread criticism in Iran of Israeli government policies in its relations with Palestinians, he said he found little proof that Iran and its citizens sought the destruction of Israel.

Journalists at the Forward said that they had been trying to obtain a visa to Iran for two years, according to the New York Times.