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Voices of Iranian people: 'Hit them Israel, Iranians are behind you'

(Photo: Social media)

The Iranian people have certainly been called “for such a time as this.” 

That was never more clear than the morning of April 14.

The night before, the Israeli Air Force (IAF), paired with a few allies, our missile defense system –and truly, the hand of the Lord – miraculously intercepted 99% of the over 300 warheads launched from Iran.   

“Dayenu,” as we say during Passover. “That would have been enough.” But the Lord was still on the move. This time, it was a confrontation with the propaganda war – the battle for hearts and minds.

We woke up the next morning (if we slept at all that night) to a bold display of solidarity from the Iranian people. They endued us with support flowing from a sort of courage like that of Queen Esther, ancient Persia’s most famous Jewish queen.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place,” Mordechai admonished Esther, “but you and your father’s family will perish.” (Esther 4:14)

The Iranian people have been suffering for the last 45 years, ever since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 that overthrew their monarchy and modern society. They have lived the evils of the Islamic Republic, and to reframe Mordechai, they find themselves in a similar scenario: Perish under the regime in silence, or take a risk for truth.   

In weighing the cost, the morality of standing with Israel wins out. 

The morning after the attack, the hashtag #IraniansStandWithIsrael trended on 𝕏 (formerly Twitter) and Instagram with over 60,000 posts, according to social analytics site, Talkwalker.

Most of the content, 41%, came from Iranian expats and refugees located in the United States. Yet, despite the Iranian regime’s outlawing online public support for Israel, an astounding 33% of the posts originated from within Iran’s borders. Many used VPNs to bypass the regime’s restrictions on social media platforms.

By comparison, the hashtag #IraniansStandWithPalestine, fell just below 3,000 online posts. 

Their overwhelming message to the world can best be summed up by the words of Iranian attorney and Palestinian activist Elica Le Bon in her viral TikTok post: “Iranians are not the Islamic Republic… We want peace with Israel.”

By “peace with Israel” she means if war erupts between nations, Iranians are on the side of Israel, not the Islamic Republic. 

Many posts following the hashtag displayed images of graffitied walls demonstrating support for an Israeli counter-attack: “Hit them Israel, Iranians are behind you.” 

The voices of the people have moved beyond solidarity to a position that does not follow the anti-Israel narrative. Unlike Palestinian Arabs who believe their problems began in 1948, Iranians recognize that the source of their suffering is the Islamic Republic, and they have a sincere hope that Israel might help to end the regime. 

The bold support from these underground allies has been gaining public interest since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October, but friendship between Iranians and Israelis dates back even further. 

Much further, actually, and even with biblical significance. 

The intertwined history between Iran – or ancient Persia – and Israel dates back 2,700 years, just before King Cyrus allowed the Judeans to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple in the 5th century B.C. Of course, a few generations later, Esther was made queen of the Persian Empire. 

The relationship between peoples sustained and even grew through a modern history that seems almost forgotten today. 

During the Pahlavi Dynasty, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, commonly known as the Shah (or “king") sought to modernize Iran through his 1960s program, the “White Revolution.” After observing Israel’s military success during the Six-Day War, the Shah intentionally sought out an allied relationship, which he preferred over relationships with surrounding Muslim nations that opposed his more secular vision. 

The nations of Israel and Iran formed both trade and military agreements. In 1968, the allies even embarked upon a joint venture to supply Europe with Iranian oil via Israel by building a crude oil pipeline connecting the two nations via the Red Sea. During this era, more than 80,000 Jews lived an upper-middle-class lifestyle in Iran, 60,000 of whom were based in the capital city of Tehran. Relationships were diplomatic and friendly, on both a governmental and popular level. 

Not everyone was happy with the autocratic monarchy, nor the Western vision the Shah brought to a Muslim-majority nation. Increasing tensions eventually led to the Iranian Revolution, which ushered in the era of the ayatollahs and mullahs who have ruled as authoritarian Islamic extremists for the last 45 years – even earning the title of ‘the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.’ 

Since coming into power they have sought to destroy Israel and the United States, for bringing what they call, ‘Western Imperialism’ to the Middle East. Thus, the origin (in a nutshell) of the tandem “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” chants from regime supporters. 

Geopolitical tensions of the last four decades have overshadowed the long-running history of friendship between peoples. Even within Evangelical Christianity and the Messianic Movement, as we recognize the role of Persia in the battle of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38), we may often fail to differentiate peoples from governments. 

The Lord has not forgotten the Persian people, though, and His plan for them is in full swing. 

The Iranian church is considered to be the fastest-growing church in the world despite Iran being ranked 9th globally for Christian persecution, according to Open Doors International. Many former Muslims have come to faith in Messiah Yeshua through a combination of disillusionment with Islamic violence paired with bold evangelism from their neighbors – even at the risk of imprisonment, or worse.

In Iran, it’s not technically illegal to be a Christian. Persecution of Christians is based on the idea that “converting” to this Western belief system undermines the national security of the Islamic Republic. 

The "Morality Police" actively search for Bibles and other Christian materials printed in Farsi, as well as for women who abstain from wearing a hijab, reporting these violations to the authorities. By some claims, the resilience of the underground church in refusing to bow down to what they view as idolatry is leading the way in this new movement to break free from the Islamic theocracy.

If this is the case, it’s more a matter of prayer than numbers. 

Even with such renowned growth, only 1.5% of the population in Iran are Christians, according to a research organization GAMAAN, the Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in Iran. The study indicates that about 40% of the population is Muslim, with the remaining percentages accounting for atheist/agnostic beliefs, or Iran’s ancient monotheistic religion, Zoroastrianism. 

GAMAAN’s data from 2022 proves the validity of the Iranian people's online campaigns. 

An overwhelming 81% of the over 158,000 respondents in Iran are in favor of a democratic government. Only 15% supported the regime and 4% were unsure. Among Iranians living abroad, the preference for a democratic government rose to 99%.

Support for both a regime change and for Israel – issues that are tied hand-in-hand – is found across a variety of worldviews within Iranian society. 

“I call it the holy war between good and evil, between light and darkness,” Iranian journalist and activist Vahid Beheshti told Israeli-American journalist Caroline Glick. “On one side Israel, and the people of Iran, and our allies. And on other side, this evil regime…So you cannot sit on the fence anymore.  You have to choose a side.”

This clarity about good and evil is the witness of Iranian people to the entire world. 

The dissident movement is more than an online movement, however. The people have been involved in protests for decades. In 2009, over 3 million people took to the streets protesting election results that put one of Israel’s greatest enemies, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, into power. The Green Movement, as it is known today, had growing momentum that came to a halt with the Obama administration’s nuclear deal. 

In 2022, another movement took off in response to the prison death of a woman named Mahsa Amini, who was arrested in Iran for failing to wear a hijab. The “Woman Life Freedom” uprising, opposing the Islamic Republic, is still ongoing today. 

Many Iranian dissidents look to the leadership of their exiled Crown Prince HRH Reza Pahlavi, who hopes to see Iran become one of the greatest democracies in the Middle East. In April 2023, Crown Prince Pahlavi even embarked on an unofficial diplomatic visit to Israel, casting a vision for what Iran-Israel relations could be with a future regime change. 

Pahlavi supporters are known for attending pro-Israel demonstrations, flying the Israeli flag alongside the Iranian flag of the Pahlavi Dynasty. This “flag of the people” differs from the Islamic Republic’s flag and is recognizable by the lion and sun emblem in the center – a symbol that dates back more than a thousand years in Iranian culture. It serves as a visual reminder that the people are not the regime. 

Even though Iranian support for Israel has been consistent throughout the Israel-Hamas war, and even prior, their voices attracted attention on a global scale morning of April 14, when Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) took a more direct role in the conflict by launching a strike against Israel from their own soil for the first time in history. 

Prior to that attack, the IRGC had been operating through its vast network of proxies, commonly referred to by Iranians as “the tentacles of the octopus” whose “head” is in Tehran. 

The proxy network is much more vast than Hamas, Islamic Palestinian Jihad and Hezbollah, organizations which are well known for their ongoing attacks on Israel. The list includes 12 known organizations across the Middle East.

The Islamic Republic’s success in building the network is found in its ability to finance and train leaders in organizations that can carry out military goals, all the while denying IRGC involvement in any given conflict. This deniability has kept the Islamic Republic largely unchecked by the international community. 

The April 14 attack broke with the IRGC’s standard policy, and shifted the discussion from dealing with “tentacles” to dealing with “the head of the Octopus” and much of the strong public discourse has been to the credit of the Iranian people. 

The historic strike consequentially meant an impending counter-attack from Israel. Media pundits and policymakers alike fell into autopilot and called on Israel to show restraint, language in line with propaganda-type claims that Israel is militarily heavy-handed and could potentially start a greater regional war. 

Simultaneously, the comments sections on the internet began spinning a narrative referring to the IRGC as the victim of Israeli aggression and war crimes, after the April 1 assignation of multiple IRGC senior officials in the supposed Iranian embassy in Damascus. 

Le Bon was quick to remind the panel on Piers Morgan Uncensored that it was senior IRCG leaders who were killed in that strike, “…who were meeting with Hezbollah …meeting with Hezbollah to do what exactly?” she asked. 

Another popular Iranian-Canadian commentator, Armin Navabi, who has been fact-checking the misinformation campaign on Israel for years has now also addressed the international law involved in an interview. “You do not get to have diplomatic  immunity when you are having military operations or military planning in a building, you do not  get to call that a consulate anymore.”

As these anti-Israel narratives, common to the ongoing Palestinian conflict, were recycled after the Iranian attack, the world did not take into consideration that the Iranian people are not playing the same game as Palestinian Arabs. 

Rather than being concerned that an Israeli response would be disproportionate, resulting in a Persian genocide – or a humanitarian crisis – the Iranian people were immediately clear that they would support an Israeli counter-attack, on the soil of their very homeland. 

In opposition to isolationist criticism, they are not asking the world to fight a war for them. What the Iranian people want to see is the dismantling of IRGC military sites, enough to the point that they could rise up and take over what many believe to be a very weak government. 

Beheshti told Glick that 80 million Iranians are waiting for Israel and the United States to strike the regime. 

“Give the necessary support to the Iranian people,” he said, “and then the Iranian people finish the job.”   

An Iranian shows support for Israel (Photo: Screenshot)

Israel’s initial ‘limited’ counter-attack on April 19 may not have been what the people were hoping for by way of liberation, but it did send both the Islamic Republic and anti-Israel critics a strong message: Israel has what it takes to dismantle the IRGC’s nuclear program, and it can do so without a single civilian fatality. The hope of the Iranian people might be more practical and possible than the international community realizes. 

Time will tell how the cry of the Iranian people will be answered, and if we might experience a brief season of peace between governments once again before prophetic history unfolds. 

Until then, Iranians have given us a picture of the courage necessary to stand with Israel, even in the face of intense government persecution. For that, they deserve our gratitude, support, and our prayers.  

Callie Mitchell has called Jerusalem home since 2009, where she has built a life as an immigrant family with her husband, four children and shetland sheepdog. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Cincinnati, along with a certificate in Christian Apologetics and training in Antisemitic Studies. She is the co-leader of the biggest, longest running ministry to moms in Jerusalem. She loves teaching, making art, baseball, dogs and horses. You can find her regular updates on Israel at her YouTube channel Callie Mitchel - I Will Not Keep Silent.

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