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Exiled Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi becomes emotional while addressing Israeli media

Pahlavi became overwhelmed while talking about the response he received from Israelis

Reza Pahlavi, founder and leader of the self-styled National Council of Iran, an exiled opposition group and Minister of Intelligence Gila Gamliel hold a press conference in Tel Aviv on April 19, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

Former Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, near the end of his visit to the State of Israel, became emotional at a press conference as he described the “overwhelmingly warm and welcoming” reception he and his wife received from Israeli citizens. 

“The amount of affection and emotions demonstrated by the Iranian-Israeli community, Jewish community, but also regular Israeli citizens, has been overwhelmingly warm and welcoming, and it has affected myself and my wife very much,” he said, visibly moved and near tears. “And it goes without saying that you can only get emotional about it.” 

As he has reiterated several times during the trip, Pahlavi again referred to King Cyrus the Great of Ancient Persia and the biblical relationship shared by Persians and Jews. He said that many Iranians share his vision of cooperation between the two nations. 

“I know that Iranians and Israelis see how important it will be for our future to be our strategic partners, to work together to address many issues,” he said. 

Pahlavi said Israel should have a role in bringing about that change. 

“It goes without saying that we can all imagine how different the future could be when Iranians are finally liberated and can also enjoy the same freedoms and work together with those who have achieved it,” said Pahlavi. “And how important this alliance and partnership could be to bring about change.” 

The crown prince also expressed a desire for Israel's assistance in dealing with his country’s water crisis. 

“I also have a very dear to my heart the issue of how critical the challenge of the water crisis we face in my country and environmental issues has been,” he said. He blamed the “mismanagement and irresponsibility of this [ayatollah] regime” for creating “massive problems,” but said he hopes Israel can help his country.  

“Part of my trip here is focused on meeting with what I consider the top experts in the field, who happen to be Israeli experts,” he said, “and to be able to work together with them and their counterparts, Iranian experts at home and abroad.” 

He ended his speech by thanking the Israeli government for the opportunity to come as “a voice for my compatriots.” 

Israeli Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel, who hosted the crown prince and his wife on their visit, introduced Pahlavi in a speech praising both the prince’s leadership and the anti-regime protestors in Iran. 

Gamliel said that, as a woman, she was moved by the women shouting out, “Women, freedom.” She said the women of Iran “have conquered my heart.” 

Gamliel thanked Pahlavi for visiting Israel during Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying his visit “is an answer to those who want to destroy us.” 

She said the crown prince’s visit was “to show his identification with the Jewish people” and referred to the reign of Pahlavi’s father, the last shah of Iran, as “times of friendship.” The Israeli minister said she hopes “a day will come in which we will return to be partners and friends.” 

Pahlavi had a busy schedule on his first visit to Israel. He attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony, and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog. 

While Pahlavi had a closed meeting with Netanyahu, photos of the meeting were distributed. Nevertheless, there was no official statement about the content of the meeting. Gamliel declined to comment on what was discussed in the meeting or who initiated it. 

Pahlavi also visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, and the Western Wall, where he prayed and signed the official guestbook, writing, “To peace, to freedom, to security, the dignity of man, and living in unity. I bless the peoples of Iran and Israel.” 

Pahlavi and his wife, Yasmine, also visited Rabbi Leo Dee, whose wife and two daughters were targeted and murdered in a horrific shooting attack at the beginning of the Passover holiday.

During the visit with Dee, Pahlavi and Yasmine Pahlavi signed a book of Psalms for the family. When Rabbi Dee said he hoped the crown prince would be reinstated soon, Yasmine responded, “Let’s pray for freedom.” 

While several in Israel, and even Iranian expatriates, have been critical of Pahlavi and skeptical of his chances to effect regime change in Iran, his visit is the most prominent visit by an Iranian leader to Israel, and therefore, important for showing that Israel stands with the Iranian people, and that there are many Iranians who do not consider Israel an enemy. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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